Thursday, August 21, 2008

Optical Scentsibilities: bottle design, part 2

Bottles get fairly often copied, er...*cough, cough*..."inspired" by other bottles it seems. After all we highlighted some on a previous post. Maybe the bottle designers/sculptors are just a handful (which they are, actually)and the rights for use are rather...liquid.

Witness these latest examples:

The scarce Japanese Y perfume has an elegant bottle that seems like a drop. Or a figurative swan's neck made of crystal, if you contort to a mental pretzel position for a bit.

Roughly evoking the similar bottle of bestseller Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan.
Jennifer Lopez is full of energy, producing not only twins and singing albums, but also fragrances to fill malls across America. Her latest is Deseo (desire in Spanish), which takes a novel approach of an irregular shape, bluish colour (not the usual choice for a passionate fragrance) and an offbeat cap.
Somehow I think we have seen this idea executed more competently in L by Lolita Lempicka. Another passion-potion in a blue-ish, irregularly shaped, vaguely heart-like bottle.

Balmain has Ambre Gris displayed everywhere in France. It just now made it to some online stores worldwide. Striking and hefty bottle, isn't it, with its big, sherical cap!

And guess who had made a similar bottle looooong ago? Coty for his seminar L'Origan.

Parfumerie Générale goes the way of niche: austere sturdy bottles, uniform design throughout the line, empasis on what's inside rather than frills, serious approach, emblematic labels.

Imagine one's surpise to find somethig similar enrobing the comparatively lowly Denim by Elidda Gibbs!

Then of course there is jewellers's brand Van Cleef & Arpels, who have issued many fragrances in jewel-like bottles. Féerie is their latest in an elaborate crystal flacon with silvery stems, shaped like a ripe fig.

If only Pierre Dinand hadn't already designed the lovely fig limited edition bottle for L'artisan Parfumeur's Premier Figuier...

Jessica Simpson tries hard with all the desperation of a has-been. So hard that she actually sanctions a quite pretty and expensive-looking bottle for her new perfume, Fancy (fancy that!)
Then again her target audience is 15-35 years old (nothing wrong with the upper end of the margin, plenty of wrong with the bottom end of it though: how could a modern 15-year-old get away in her entourage with anything elegant without atracting ridicule? To be answered in the hazy distant future).

Eerily reminiscent of the limited editions for the bell jars of the Serge Lutens fragrances for Le Palais Royal, like this one for Mandarine Mandarin.
Now cut it out, Jessica, please! This isn't funny!!

Pics via aedes, artcover, ausliebezumduft, ambregris, autour de serge, scentaddicts, luckyscent, parfumflacons.


  1. stella polaris14:37

    Thank you for presenting these similarities in bottle design! The appearance of the bottle is such an important part of the total experience of applying perfume.
    Just a comment on the first couple that you compare: Yes, the Y bottle really is elegant, but Casmere edt bottle I find rather ugly, disproportioned as it is and quite strange in form (actually seeing it gives me a faint feeling of pain).
    The first one makes me think of these crystal gnomes, popular in Norwegean houses during christmas:

  2. Here's another one to add to it, I think this is getting a whole lot of inspiration from Hermes and The Different Company http://www.mimifroufrou.com/scentedsalamander/Essenza-del-Tempo.jpg

  3. Dear S,

    you're very welcome. I like bottles, beautiful, inidvidual bottles, although I could take a great perfume in a milk carton for all I care.
    I prefer the Y to the CM as well: it's more delicate, although it is taking the idea from them, I gather.
    Hadn't thought of the gnomes, though! I always found them rather peculiar. Thanks for providing the link: hours of fun in the colder, dreary days that are coming.

  4. Good point, J!
    I can see some such "inspiration" behind this.

  5. Y and Cashmere Mist are similar to the La Prairie fragrances, where one is glitzy and the other silver.

  6. In design, nothing is created, everything is re-elaborated :-)
    check the new moving buildings - they look like the first bottle of your post.
    regards, Simone

  7. Adding on...there is the simple water drop of Alfred Sung Shi, which extends the realm of complexity presented by the stylistic "Y" and the stylized Cashmere Mist.

    I always enjoy a visual essay...thanks.

  8. I like it when bottles pay homage to a beautiful bottle from the past. My favorite example of this is the LouLou parfum bottle which directly copies the Richard Hudnut "Le Debut" bottle.

  9. Good point, Karin: seems like they either shared a designer ;-) or else they run out of ideas...

  10. MQP,

    thank you for stopping by and commenting! Hope to see you often here :-)
    Very succinct: indeed no parthenogenesis.
    Architecture and design share many common traits.

  11. S,

    see, there' more to it than meets the eye, you're right: I do recall the Shi! (and Sha was quite like it too, I think?). Thank you!

  12. stella polaris14:45

    Ps; this seems to be in the same group as the first pair:


    I found the image accidentally via reading an article of the chemist Robert Hoffman where he cites an add for the perfume Catalyst for women by Halston, in NYTimes magazine, in 1993.

  13. Anonymous05:06

    Just wondering, why is it okay to say things like "how could a modern 15-year-old get away in her entourage with anything elegant without atracting ridicule?" but not okay to describe a fragrance as "old lady"?

  14. S,

    thank you for the pic. Interesting find and much bigger pic than I have ever seen on this (those on shopping sites are tiny).
    Halston had an unfortunate destiny regarding his brand :-(

  15. Anon,

    that's actually a good point!

    1.Old is old: I don't get vexed by it, because I don't give it a qualitative nuance myself (isn't the English language funny in that regard: we say "he's 5 years OLD!"
    Then again I am not old -yet!- so I try to respect other people's sensitivities, in case some day I find out I become bothered by it. ;-)

    2.Peer pressure is strongest when young, thus young people wear en masse (with select exceptions) what companies and their marketing teams churn out. [See this too!]
    Right now, that's boring, derivative fragrances with tooth-aching sweetness. Little before that it was marines, decades ago it was chypres and aldehydics, even before that it was rich orientals. It's just fashion!

    3.The young have the advantage of their youth. That makes them invincible, so not chapped much with above statement, I figure. :-)

  16. Anonymous04:24

    Thanks for clearing that up :) I'm 17 and have stopped wearing celebuscents coz I'm sick of smelling them on everyone else! I still love sweet fragrances but I'd rather get it from Un Bois Vanille than Fantasy. Wheeee! Bring on the Lutens! :D

  17. You're welcome :-)
    Like I said, they're always exceptions and it's good to map out one's own path in life early on.

  18. Anonymous01:11


    hmmm... similarities? :D
    y and enigma by oriflame !!


    and btw, can u tell me please who is the producer of y? can't find anywhere ;/

    keep warm :)

  19. Anon,

    great eye!! I saw that Oriflame bottle much too late, it seems. It's probably the same glass producer producing different hues bottles out of the same mould.

    Unfortunately I don't recall who produced Y, it was very arcane, no known niche we hear of often; that I can tell you for sure. Maybe this is why a big company like Ori was able to use that bottle design in the first place?


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