You're once, twice, three times a label...

Posted on June 22, 2017

Who doesn’t know the classic old song “Three times a lady” by Lionel Richie? This song has got to be one of the worlds all time favourite love songs, and when (like me) you’re crazy about interesting and eye-catching wine labels, this song can’t help but stimulate my peculiar little bloggers mind...

Wine labels are often designed or described in a multitude of ways, be it old school, modern, contemporary, minimalist, industrial, traditional, you name it, but often we look at inanimate objects (especially cars and boats) and give them a female gender connotation.  Why exactly?  - I’m yet to understand this, but there are most likely ongoing debates as to why certain objects are decidedly more female gender based than male – for instance men love to name their cars by female names or refer to them as “my baby” or “she”. If fact women too often refer to their cars as being female.  I understand this, because my car is so reliable – but my dodgy PC for instance... definitely male.

With this in mind, I decided to look at a few wine labels that clearly fall into the “female” gender based category. The initial design of a label would obviously incorporate various important aspects within the producer’s style-guidelines, such as symbolic references, brand specs, colour codes, themes, etc.  But surely the ‘final look’ is also considered before printing – especially since ones market analysis is one of the most important criteria when designing your label in the first place! After consideration of all of the key influences, there must surely be a thought spared to think about how people (men and women) will visually “see” this label because that is what will ultimately have a huge impact on whether the consumer will buy it or not?

Let’s have a look at a few examples of what I would call “typically female” labels.

The labels of the Botanica range of wines instantly strike me as “glamorous women” – which are possibly as feminine as you can get. Magnificent flowers adorn a dark black label on a dark glass bottle and you would certainly not class them as “entry-level” or anything below a meritorious or prestigious class. These are stunning designs that immediately give you the impression of quality and sophistication.

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In fact there’s more to these labels than meets the eye – in a marvellous story about how these lovely labels originally came into being. The inspiration for their name and design was gathered upon a trip to the Yale Centre for British Art – where an exhibit by Mary Delany displayed a marvellous collection of botanical collages, beautifully compiled of hundreds of little pieces of paper!  With special permission and licensing of course, the producers were able to bring her art into the focus point of their labels.  These works of art were created by Mary in the late 1700’s.

Another fabulous label that comes to mind are those delightfully colourful and playful designs on the Juno wine range by KWV wines.   There were quite a few in the range if my memory serves me correctly, and each wine had its own unique lovely lady (referred to as the Cape Maidens) displayed in a somewhat whimsical style upon its label.  These impressive, bold and colourful artworks were done by the highly acclaimed artist Tertia Du Toit. (Who happens to also be responsible for the beautiful Douglas Green “Saint Series” and the stunning Berg River Beer range, amongst others) Now these I would obviously class as “female” labels – but who do you think they would more likely appeal to? - and thus would be more inclined to buy them? Interesting when you think about it that way.  It is however a great pity that these wines have seemingly been discontinued, but let’s hope we might see them again soon.    

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A few more very typically “female classified” labels that come to mind are those by La Bri wines - with their delicate floral designs and the famous Protea range by Anthonij Rupert Wines which have those gorgeous white “doily-like” designs all around the bottle.    

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Then there’s a range of labels that really had me amused – called The Fishwife, by the Fishwives Club, a boutique winery in Cape Town. Their labels again display images of women – so one would without hesitation class them as “female labels”  - but these however I believe would be equally visually seductive to both men (first) and women!

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Though these labels may easily provoke moral questioning or even lift an eyebrow, it’s their rather mischievous connotation together with their slightly shocking images that grasp ones attention!  The content of the images consists of absolutely beautiful woman (perhaps rather promiscuous) in very sexy gowns and lingerie sitting gracefully on top of large fish! (I realise that what I’ve just written sounds horrific and quite provocative – so thank goodness I have images to share with you instead!) But these labels are a genius design and I in fact can’t think of a better gift for some of my favourite girl friends! (the story behind these labels is equally fantastic – and one well  worth reading too, so grab a glass of wine as they say, and have a little read here: http://www.thefishwivesclub.co...

Here’s to all those daring artists, producers and designers. Continue doing what you do – we (your market) love to be entertained by your creative displays and wine would simply be boring if it didn’t play with divergence!

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