Monday, October 17, 2011

Orangina and Opium??

Ever wonder what lies behind those fabulous bottles full of enticing scents that adorn our dressing tables and bathroom shelves? And what about the enticing packaging of these scents that entice us in boutiques and department stores?

There are two major perfume bottle designers who have dominated the industry for the last 50 years or so. Serge Manseau and Pierre Dinand.
Pierre Dinand is virtually a living legend in the world of perfume bottle design and packaging. Creating some of the most iconic and recognised perfume bottles of our time, the man has created over 500 concepts and designs for perfumes that have been in production at some stage or another. To put it plainly he has created over half the bottles produced in the last 40 years. Almost single-handedly he has optically enriched our appreciation of fluted crystal, innovative shapes and the art of bottle design.
Quantity is fine, and one would think that with such an output that one would lose any sort of innovation, and treat each commission with less enthusiasm from the last. Not so with Dinand. Each creation is different from the last. If anything the underlying feature of his work is the architectural quality that unites them all. Working closely with the perfumer he spends time with the noses, and tries to exchange views on the project. It is always better that the bottle and juice are worked together.

His first bottle for Rochas’ Madame Rochas released in 1960 is a classic and in Dinand’s words the story of its creation goes something like this. I was working in 1958 and 59 as Art Director in an advertising agency, which had clients involved in luxury goods, including champagne, cognacs and fashion. One of the companies, Marcel Rochas, liked my new graphic approach, and knowing of my architectural study background, asked me if I had any ideas for the shape of a new perfume that would carry the name of a beautiful woman, Helene Rochas. That was new to me but very challenging; I decided to spend time with Helene Rochas, falling in love with her. I got inspired by a collection of antique perfume bottles she had at home. The problem was to produce industrially something that was originally handmade. It worked and was an enormous success.
I was immediately requested by many other fashion designers, Pierre Balmain, Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. I always thought this would be the last and I would have to design some other things, but it kept going, increasing demands from all over the world…

Another classic project which has stood the test of time is the bottle and packaging for Dior’s Eau Sauvage. ‘The box design, taken from the inside of a Rolls Royce, was more difficult than the bottle, printed with 7 colors to achieve this precious wood look.’

Dinand is the first to bemoan the fact that now creativity is now dead and that marketing and sales have taken its place. ‘Creativity is less important nowadays, now that marketing studies end up with the exact same recommendations, whatever the company. The result is leveling the design to the base, cutting everything too low like cutting grass in your garden, and then the little flower blooming in the middle has no chance to survive thanks to the powerful P&G Marketing Gurus, invading the world of parfumerie. C’est la vie, or I should rather say c’est la mort. It is the death of creativity”

Pierre Dinand has also enjoyed great success as a mainstream, consumer product container designer. One of the most famous packages he crafted is the world famous orb bottle for the popular soft drink Orangina. The ubiquitous Orangina shape is renowned around the world and is further proof that this design giant digs deep to understand the needs of every client he services.

I am sure that you will recognize some of the other iconic bottles he has designed pictured here!


  1. Wonderful!

    In the midst of all my worried rantings about the environment, I enjoy art, art history, information and just joie de vivre enormously. You present all four of them and make my day on a regular basis.

    Thank you!

  2. so interesting.

    My favorite bottles are from Comme des Garcons, and their scents too. I love the pebble shape that lays down rather than stands. Brilliant.

  3. Great designs, David, and it sounds like a dream job. I was recently gifted with a bottle of Bleu de Chanel, and the one thing I really enjoy about the bottle is that it has a magnetic cap. No unscrewing or tugging; the bottle just releases the cap and then, when you're finished, snatches it back.

  4. not two weeks ago i opened a bottle of opium at an antique mall, just to recall what i'd like back then. and, if i'm not mistaken, coriandre was another fave of mine, the cologne, NOT the spice.

    cilantro, feh.

  5. Another very informative post. Thanks, David. I still remember that Opium was the perfume of the day back then. Never really liked the smell, though.

  6. They are like little sculptures, real art, the Orangina one being a worthy representative of pop art too!
    Nice to have you back in full strength.

  7. Great post, very interesting as always.
    These bottles are so lovely.
    I love Dior, eau sauvage.

  8. So great desings! but for me Azzaro have a very special fragance!


    Adrien Loren

  9. Thanks for yet another interesting and informative post. Really enjoy reading this and glad to have you back!

  10. Very interesting, I have never ever given a thought on the designer behind the bottle itself. I love Eau Sauvage by Dior, the fragrance the box and the bottle I love them all.

  11. I forgot to comment that my mom has exactly the same opium bottle in her bathroom. It's so old... I only can remember that it was very expensive and that my dad bought it for my mom's birthday. But I have no idea when it was... But the bottle is still wonderful :-)

    My mom found the stone on the beach and it has so much energy. Since she gave it to me I burst with creativity. Really amazing. I believe in the power of stones.

  12. I must say that even though I know that packaging is part and parcel of selling the whole experience of scent, I never thought about who was behind the bottle designs. Interesting post as always!

  13. Nice to see the Opium bottle first. I was such an Opium Girl back in the late 70s, early 80s (I think). It's a design and fragrance that's very much of it's time.

    Love the comment about creativity being dead, and that it's all about marketing. I find it very strange (and frankly annoying) that companies put so much store on focus testing, these days. They ask the average person what they like and want. These people don't know what they like and want until someone creative show them something new!!!

  14. It's amazing how many niches there are available to creative and artistic people. As a designer I love that when it comes down to it, design has such an influence on how a product is perceived.

    Glad you are feeling better!

  15. Hmm.... now I'm just plain thirsty.

    ps... Estee Lauder Pleasures was my first perfume. I was 14 and I got it for my birthday. I wore it until I was 18 when I bought Nina Ricci's Premier Jour and have been wearing that for the last 10 years.

  16. For some reason I am repulsed by heavy cologne smells. I love orange and bergamot together though. I love how Marc Jacobs packages fragrances, so clean and simple.


  17. It is interesting to note some old favourites here amongst my readers!

    Norma, I still wear Coriandre to this day!

    I see there are a few Opium girls out there. The modern re-formulation is nothing like the original

  18. I used to wear Magie Noire...maybe I should give it another try. I'd forgotten about it.

  19. Je suis Guy Dinand le neveu de Pierre Dinand.


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