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The World’s Greatest Flacon Designer – Pierre Dinand

by: Geoff Ficke

I was most fortunate to work as an executive in the cosmetic and perfume industry in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the “Golden Years” for creativity in that wonderful business. That was the era before the immensely destructive wave of retail consolidations and corporate mergers and buyouts that has severely crimped innovation in the years since. My experience was blessedly timed to coincide with an explosion of entrepreneurial activity.

The beauty industry gave me an opportunity to work with retailers, artisan craftsman and component vendors from all over the world. One of the most rewarding and enjoyable collaborations I experienced was working with Pierre Dinand to create an original perfume flacon for a new scent I was launching.

In the world of perfumery, Pierre Dinand is a living legend. Over half of the perfume units sold around the world to this day are packaged in customized, crafted bottles designed by Mr. Dinand. He has uniquely sculpted over 500 flacons for some of the most successful and famous perfume brands in the world. Opium (Yves St. Laurent), Eternity (Calvin Klein), Fendi, Valentino, Azzaro Pour Homme, Rochas, Armani, Guerlain and Givenchy are only a tiny sample of the brands he has designed for.

Pierre Dinand works in a light, airy atelier in Paris. When Mr. Dinand accepts a commission to create an original flacon he initially receives a sample of the scent to be contained in his creation. He interviews the perfumer, seeking to ascertain the notes and moods the perfume is meant to convey to the consumer. Dinand lives with the scent until his mood has been piqued and he forms a creative template for the initial silhouette he imagines.

Mr. Dinand is an internationally acclaimed sculptor. He uses favored sculpting techniques to generate initial concept pieces. The production of molding tools for the glass and the manufacturing process must be considered when crafting the prototypes. After drawings, clay models and initial acrylic pieces are sculpted the client is brought in to critique and review the early prototypes.
The process is continued until all issues regarding aesthetics, design, tooling, production and breakage are satisfactorily addressed. The closure is often the most difficult, detailed component in a perfume flacon. The closure must have the most exact tolerance to contain the liquid (which is prone to leakage) and can add significant costs to the bill of materials.

Mr. Dinand remains involved in all aspects of the packaging of the scent until the product is on counter. He appears at press presentations, will attend key trade shows for launch purposes, meet with major buyers and lend his considerable personal network of associations whenever necessary to assist a brands success in the international marketplace. He is a true professional and the roster of hugely successful brands he has creatively inspired is testament to his genius.

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.

The world of high-end perfume is populated with artisans that demand the highest levels of quality, craftsmanship and creativity. Corners are never cut in the pursuit of delivery of the perfect scent. Closure, bottle, box and coffret graphics, tester units, sales collateral, sampling and signage are all absolutely essential elements necessary to present the scent in the most exclusive presentation possible.

I have launched a number of fragrances, skin care lines, hair care programs, color cosmetics, bath and body ranges, nail care, hand and foot care brands over the years. Collaborating with top craftsman is essential in order to properly position and differentiate new products. Working with an old-world artisan such as Pierre Dinand is rewarding, and refreshing in a modern world where attention to luxury, detail and styling is almost a lost art.