Behind the Rise of Artist-Designed Perfume Bottles – SURFACE

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Creative collaborations between art- and design-world skills and perfume homes have lengthy elevated mass-produced items to the standing of paintings. The likes of James Turrell and the Yves Klein Archive are constructing upon a convention everybody from India Mahdavi, Frank Gehry, and Salvador Dalí have taken half in: designing uncommon fragrance bottles.

by Jenna Adrian-Diaz

November 11, 2022

James Turrell’s fragrances and decanters, designed for Lalique. Photo: Courtesy of Lalique

In some corners of the design world, collaboration fatigue has, understandably, set in. One sort of inventive partnership that reliably drums up pleasure amongst even the most jaded aesthetes can be one of the least predictable: artist-designers and perfume homes. According to magnificence skilled and Smell Ya Later perfume podcast co-host Tynan Sinks, one of the earliest examples of crossover between the perfume and artwork worlds occurred in 1908, when avant-garde artist and theorist Kazimir Malevich was commissioned to design a Severny Cologne bottle earlier than shaping the future of summary artwork along with his brilliant, cubist work. The semi-opaque glass bottle he created includes a polar bear perched atop an ice block as its stopper, with the the rest rendered as an ocean-worn block of ice.
In 1937, nonetheless far earlier than the phrase “collab” existed, the Surrealist painter and designer Leonor Fini created the curvaceous bottle for Elsa Schiaparelli’s beloved ‘Shocking!’ perfume, drawing inspiration from the Italian couturier’s costume kind, or model, for Golden Age movie star Mae West. (In 2018, Kim Kardashian’s KKW Body perfume raised eyebrows for its conspicuously comparable packaging design.) Schiaparelli additionally labored with Salvador Dalí, commissioning him to design the bottle for her ‘Le Roi Soleil’ perfume, which debuted in 1946. Schiaparelli ran in the similar social circles as Fini and Dalí; she thought-about them mates, attended events with them, and admired their work earlier than tapping them as collaborators.

Left: Shocking! Bottle design by Leonor Fini for Maison Schiaparelli. Right: Le Roy Soleil bottle design by Salvador Dali for Maison Schiaparelli. Credit: The Schiaparelli Archives

Fini’s bottle for ‘Shocking!’ represented an uninhibited celebration of femininity: “The form of the model was impressed by the curves of the actress Mae West, the Hollywood intercourse image of the time,” in accordance with the Schiaparelli archive. “The bottle was positioned below a glass globe in reference to these by which late-Nineteenth-century brides preserved their floral wreaths.” Dalí’s design, which was launched 9 years later, was a celebration of postwar Paris. It referenced the Place Vendôme, the place Maison Schiaparelli was based mostly at the time. The Place had additionally as soon as hosted a statue of Louis XIV, the perfume’s namesake. The bottle itself was comprised of Baccarat crystal and featured a stopper in the form of a flaming solar atop a bottle evocative of rocks rising from the ocean.
The more moderen previous has seen James Turrell staff up with French glassmaker Lalique in the kind of two obelisk-like crystal decanters that recall Asian stupas and pay homage to the Range Rider and Purple Sage fragrances they maintain. The two prismatic bottles mark the famend Light and Space artist’s inaugural foray into perfumery—and the first time he has created work on a small scale.
Then there’s Guerlain’s particular launch of L’Heure Bleue with the Yves Klein Archive, which has additionally charmed the design world. For the a hundred and tenth anniversary of its L’Heure Bleue perfume, the model labored with the Yves Klein Archive to problem 30 bottles painted in International Klein Blue, utilizing the late artist’s similar pigmentation processes. The impact of such a matte, monochrome coating on the curvature of the Waltersperger glass crystal is wondrous to behold.

Guerlain’s particular version of L’Heure Bleue, with a bottle painted in International Klein Blue in partnership with the Yves Klein Archive. Credit: Guerlain.

Also price mentioning is Dries Van Noten’s current partnership with the famend Nineteenth-century French perfume glassmakers at Stoelzle Masnières Parfumerie, which yielded a chromatic array of luminous glass bottles. And, in 2021, India Mahdavi’s reimagining of Dior’s iconic J’Adore perfume and Frank Gehry’s sculptural crinkled cap for Louis Vuitton’s Les Extraits fragrance assortment.
“Artist-designed fragrance bottles are a little bit more durable to return by than artists designing limited-edition deco on current parts,” Sinks tells Surface. “Perfume homes usually have their very own bottle designers, who’re artists in their very own proper, of course. To me, that’s not the similar as an artist who works in their very own medium, be it in sculpture or in any other case, being introduced on for the particular objective of designing a fragrance bottle.”
In a crowded retail panorama, the place collab tradition feels more and more like a meme of itself, these fewer and farther-between launches really feel newsworthy when introduced. The technique behind formulating, launching, and advertising a perfume is so calculated that bringing in an outsider—even one of the artwork or design world’s greatest—might current quite a few dangers. But in these instances, that’s the place the magic occurred. In reality, we wouldn’t be mad if extra artists left their signature stamps on fragrance bottles.

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