Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kenzo's Matrioshka: limited edition collectible for Flower Xmas 2009

In a quite early exhibit of limited editions for Christmas (a time when companies issue their most lavish special flacons in the hopes of collectors splurging on themselves and those they love), the flagship fragrance of Kenzo in terms of sales, Kenzo Flower, gets the Matrioshka russian-doll treatment. Matrioshka/Matryoshka is perhaps the most characteristic Russian souvenir, a wooden nestling doll, its Russian name (Матрёшка) deriving from the Russian female first name Matryona; often erroneously referred to as babushka (which actually means grandmother), it can depict young people or men as well. With its alleged history being that Sergei Maliutin admired a set of Japanese dolls that represented Shichi-fuku-jin (the Seven Gods of Fortune) and wanted to interpret it ruski-style around 1890, is it any wonder the Japanese are returning the compliment over a century later?


  1. Maria13:42

    I see a new victory of my native culture, LOL. I'm already looking forward to know how quickly this will be sold. To my Russian eyes the bottle looks weird. Matryoshki - that's plural - are nothing but tourist specialties... though I did have a couple of sets as toys, but it isn't usual for Russian kids to play with them, especially now, or for families to have them at home, for that matter. And, if I remember the smell correctly, doesn't it feel irrelevant? Or was it intended? Or maybe it doesn't look like a mismatch for people from other countries? I'd really like to know! Is it just for "look how fun it is, what a nice present for a person you don't know what to give for X-mas"? I wonder what was the logic behind that design...

  2. Maria,

    thanks for commenting on what is a familiar subject to you!
    I can't say I find Matrioshki any exotic, as I recall seeing them as souvenirs (and cheap ones at that) as a child (my grandmother had business beneath the Iron Curtain; and no, not shady business, LOL). I am perfectly sure Russian children don't play with them. Regarding why they chose them, I believe it has to do with "Lehz Americainz" who in the eyes of French companies (Kenzo I believe is French-owned, isn't it?) are seen as hungry for "cultural innuendos" (We have something similar here, which is rather an insult to the tourists' intelligence I always thought, but I digress...).
    I hadn't thought of the correlating smell, funny you should mention it, you could be very right, you know!

  3. I think .... it's adorable. And I think Flower smells pretty good (if not particularly remarkable) ... if the price is right, I might consider getting one of these. I'd be happy to find it in my stocking :)

  4. A,

    there you go! There is definitely an interest in special flacons and exactly because it's a popular perfume (for a reason, perhaps a review or something should be conducted at some point), I don't think they've not calculated this carefully.
    Hope you find it in your stocking, A!!

  5. Maria14:43

    your info concerning prices is way outdated! :-))) Ushanki with red stars, matryoshki, Lenin's busts - all the 'cultural innuendos', as you perfectly put it, are an insult both for tourists' intelligence and wallets these days...
    Thanks for "Lehz Americainz"! It explains so many things... And that's how I'll feel if/when I see this limited edition sold here. Faced with a cultural innuendo to who we are in the eyes of a French-owned perfume company. Though, in terms of perfumery, they may be right...

  6. They have raised those prices heniously, eh? I was sure everything is not as I recall as a child, but I stand corrected once again. To be perfectly honest I never buy souvenirs of that kind, exactly because I see it as "copy-paste" of what a certain culture is perceived to be (you can't escape the Mozart chocolates in Vienna and Salzburg for instance), but I realise not everyone thinks that way.

    I definitely see this as a smart and careful move on the perfume front (Flower is very popular and I think it sells quite well in Russia) and it's an intriguing one aesthetically- and commercially-wise in relation to international markets: I doubt this will ever circulate within Russia and the former USSR democracies, that is. Don't you?

  7. Maria15:21

    I hope it will not! We'll know for sure soon, in just a few months.

  8. LOL, indeed we will. I count on you to keep me informed on that score :-)

  9. Maria15:35

    Promise! :-)))

  10. Helg, tourists ARE stupid. Or, a good majority of them. I lived in very touristy places and could observe them on daily basis.

    Lehz Americainz, I'll take the liberty to use it, it's too good to be fogotten. I suspect that people travel a lot for reasons I don't really understand, just to be somewhere without having any idea about the place and then they mix up various preconceptions. I lived in Prague and I never really understood why that much fake Soviet army paraphernalia, matryoshkas and other Russian-like stuff is sold... and actually bought. Apparently, for a good part of people, all the post-commie countries are moreless the same, something like Russia, or rather idea of Russia perpetuated by the media.

    As for the bottle itself, well, why not. It may be a silly multicultural mix without any particular meaning but it's cute. Cute in the superficial way - it's nice if there are deep ideas everywhere but at a certain point, it gets overwhelming.


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