Monday, July 26, 2010

L'Air du Temps is Rocking: New Design by Phillipe Starck

Celebrated French designer Philippe Starck has given L’Air du Temps, the classic Nina Ricci fragrance which the 61-year-old admits to wearing himself, a new look.
The design is unusual, very sleekened and gadgetry-like, yet not linear. The famous doves that denoted world peace after the end of WWII when the perfume was introduced take a new tougher, silhouetted line that is "rock n'roll". One could argue that the new design is distanced from everything which historically and emotionally we have come to associate with L'Air du Temps: The open wings of the doves in flight are stylised yet they're still kissing (see their beaks unite at the very very top), but one could almost see a cattle skull in profile, a boomerang or a shark's fin at one side's point.
According to Osmoz, the limited-edition item has two goals: "offering collectors an exceptional bottle, and proving that more than 60 years after its launch, the fragrance is still modern and… totally in “l’air du temps” (i.e. the zeitgeist, or the spirit of the times)".
L’Air du Temps by Starck, 1.5 oz/45ml.: 69 euros. Available from mid-October.

Then again, like a proper classic, L'Air du Temps, the flagship of Nina Ricci, at least optically has always been on the vanguard, offering myriads of permutations to reflect the times: Watch some of them on this previous Perfume Shrine article.

photo via buybuy


  1. Anonymous15:27

    Dearest E,

    I spent a few minutes this past Saturday night trying to capture a bat that had slipped in my parents' house at twilight (mission accomplished and bat safely back in its natural nocturnal habitat) so the distinctive shape of a bat in flight was uppermost in my mind when I first saw this image of Starck's flacon. Finally, I thought, something for one who could never come to terms with the peaceful, sweet image of doves kissing; bats are far more sympathetic to me so perhaps I could get past the packaging and try the juice again (it has been years). Way to burst my bubble, E. It is STILL doves kissing! Well, at least that dangerous looking wing is a bone thrown to those who would rather stay in the shadows thrown by a dove's wing.

    Gorgeous work either way. I love Starck.


  2. Well that isn't what I would expect but that's probably a good thing- Starck is a great artist of the interiors and I like his work. I'm glad to see L'Air De Temps getting some attention- I am very fond of it and worry it is thought of as old fashioned when I think it is lovely and should always be of the times.

  3. Anonymous21:04

    It wouldn't matter what fragrance this bottle held: I think it is one of the ugliest bottles I have ever seen.

  4. Mimi Gardenia22:37

    A very strange looking bottle- not sure it fits L'air du Temps !

  5. Natalia,

    ah...bats. They can be special, if you know how to handle the "eeek" factor. I haven't really managed to do that muself, but I do enjoy seeing them fly over the bright halos of street lights on summer nights...

    I think you're right on, it does look a bat! (Hey Batman, here's your scent!)

  6. K,

    thanks for commenting, I think you pronounce what many think: "Great designer, I'm not entirely convinced on this one".
    Hmm, I will pronounce a theory: I think L'AdT suffers from an oversentimentalist association (probably cemented by those "ah l'air du temps, c'est la vie enchantee" commercials I had linked in the past with the Laura Ashley impersonators with the curly auburn hair by the lake...). In order for it to be taken seriously by a new generation it might require some "toughening". Without removing its emotional pounce of course or meaning.

  7. Anon,

    it's remarkably close actually to the design of the kissing doves as seen from a bird's eye view when you hold a typical L'AdT bottle. It's not that far removed.
    Then again, I can see how it "reads" in several ways, like that quiz with the young and the old lady: which do you see depending on how your brain is wired. I'd like to think that that kind of thought went into creating it. I trust it did, at any rate, myself. Not that I find it particularly beautiful, necessarily.

  8. M,

    hi there, darling, how are things?

    Like I said above, it's not that far removed from the actual bottle in rotation! (strange as it might seem at first). I pronounced a theory on my second comment as to why they designed it that way. It might hold some water. ;-)

  9. Anonymous03:50

    now, if only they would make the perfume the way it smelled back in the '70s, it would really be rock n roll. they neutered this one so badly it makes me weep. this used to be a signature for me, up into the early '90s. then, somewhere along the way, it lost its cojones.

    and if they brought back farouche in its original form, that would be amazing. that was even more me than l'air.

    the new bottle looks like a metal beak instead of a wingtip. but still fun.

    cheers, minette

  10. Dead Ugly Helg and I think it will be the death of that famous perfume sadly.

    There - I have said it and now I am running. Starck is very over-rated ! Keep him away from Guerlain! :)

  11. I love it. I also damn loved the black bottle... alas, it's for sure going to be totally outside of what I'd be willing to spend.

  12. Mimi Gardenia01:32

    Hello E sweetie

    All is fine here- hot as hell in CA ! *LOL*
    I see your point re. L'air's image- a re vamp . In that case, all is good ! :)

  13. hotlanta linda16:53

    Methinks the cap could be a matte finish, off-white plastic, maybe w/ a slight imprint of a doves` wing feathers.This would help alleviate the cattle skull look, yes??

  14. Haha! Even great designers can screw up. I'm not afraid to say it looks like a dinosaur bony toenail. I collect vintage perfume bottles and I guess my perfume bottle taste could be considered "Old Fashioned", yet I am also an artist myself and love modern design, just not in perfume bottles apparently! Humm, maybe it looks better in person?

  15. This looks like an ugly chicken beak! Or maybe an eagle. Neither beak is ugly - on the natural wearer - but in this iteration?




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