It is up to the designers (and their partners) to shape the glass, enhance the stopper or add a special decoration so that the bottle “speaks” to consumers. The best examples will do so for generations—think of the exotic shape of Shalimar on grandmother’s dressing table, or the simple, opaque white bottle of Old Spice aftershave.
But now, with more online beauty transactions, fragrance bottles must draw attention instantly on e-commerce sites and social media platforms like Instagram.
“One of the disciplines that we apply to all of our packaging design projects, especially fragrance, is around thinking ‘social first.’ This means understanding your consumers’ interests and designing to those interests first. It also means thinking of how your design will look next to the other brands in their life,” explained Enoch Palmer, a founding partner and creative director of Case, New York City-based integrated agency that has worked with brands like Ouai, Summer Fridays, Pepsi, Herman Miller and Clinique.
“We always look for ways to create something simple and photogenic enough to fit in a consumer’s lifestyle, while still giving it a twist to be memorable (and stand out in social). With the growing trend of ‘shelfies,’ it’s important to consider how the packaging will appear through the lens of a phone and show up on social,” he said.
A fragrance’s ability to stir up memories is well known, and industry experts contend the entire package plays a key role.
“Fragrance packaging should be memorable through its design and the tactile, sensory experience of unwrapping emotion. Picking papers and substrates that are unique, begins a memorable, luxurious story, which is the type of thinking we apply to our fragrance projects,” added Palmer.
How are today’s companies using bottle and packaging design to sell fragrance? Here’s a look at some of the newest launches that incorporate a range of elements designed to attract the eye of the consumer long before they take a whiff of the juice inside.
Lancôme’s feminine fragrance Idôle is a new musky chypre floral fragrance housed in an über slim bottle designed by Chafik Gasmi, an architect and industrial designer. The Idôle bottle is arguably one of the slimmest in the world at just 15mm thick, according to Lancôme. Available in several refillable formats (25-, 50- and 75ml), Idôle will be accompanied by a perfume fountain at selected points of sale.
Tommy Bahama Maritime Journey, distributed by Parlux Ltd, is a new scent inspired by the original Maritime fragrance. The new juice is said to embody the energizing power and seduction of the open sea with notes that include “brisk, sparkling apple and an aromatic heart suggesting the allure of uncharted lands that dry into a reassuring, masculine woody base.”
The bottle is topped with a nautical rope wrapped around a metal cleat and anchored on a lotus wood. The glass silhouette with its crisp sea blue tint reflects the masculine and powerful nature of the scent, according to the brand.
Only The Brave, Diesel’s signature fragrance for men, is marking its 10th anniversary this year with a flanker called Spirit Of The Brave. This new scent was created in close collaboration with Brazilian soccer star Neymar Jr., and marks the first time Diesel Fragrances said it has teamed with a “prodigy from the world of sports.” Like the original Only The Brave, Spirit Of The Brave comes packaged in a bottle shaped like a clenched fist; the new iteration comes in black and gold and features a print of the lion that is tattooed on Neymar Jr.’s fist.
Viktor&Rolf has added Spicebomb Night Vision for men, a flanker to the original Spicebomb, which debuted in 2012. The fragrance contains notes of green cardamom, green mandarin essences and a Granny Smith accord that lift black chili accord and the dark virility evoked by black pepper, clove and nutmeg essences. A roasted almond trace warms the scent into its addictive side with tonka bean absolute and woody notes. The iconic bottle has a new green hue–no doubt a nod to the view through night vision goggles and scent’s “green” accords.
Also taking its cue from color is the package design of White Diamonds En Rouge, a new flanker fragrance from The House of Taylor. Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s bold, iconic red lips, the sensual floral oriental was created by Givaudan Master Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux and features bold top notes of pink peppercorn, mandarin and raspberry entwined with a robust floral bouquet of rose, jasmine and orange flower. It finishes with vanilla bean, vetiver, amber and patchouli. It has a red and gold package design, with a transparent rouge bottle that features a sparkling diamond-like collar and gold cap.
Indie fragrance maker Bond No.9’s newest scent is Hudson Yards. The scent is described as a “luminous mélange of dewy petals piled upon petals” that starts with lily of the valley, mingled with freesia and pink peppercorns. Middle-range notes include a dewy floral bouquet of peony buds, Bulgarian rose and lychee. The base notes include woody-citrusy orange flower, iris absolute, and white musk. The company’s well-known bottle has been re-interpreted with a neon-like, iridescent chartreuse color. The glass surface is laser-etched with an overall network pattern of the Bond No. 9 circular signature token, and when held up to the light, it reveals lace-like glimmerings of transparency, according to the company.
While consumers hold onto many bottles of perfume for nostalgic reasons, the current drive for sustainability in personal care has pushed more consumers toward refillable products. While the concept is gaining popularity in fine fragrance, there isn’t a level playing field, according to one industry player.
A Better Way
“Refilling an empty perfume bottle sounds nice but, if you really think about it, a refill doesn’t speak to whether the perfume is clean and conscious or if the bottle itself is recyclable. I applaud brands who do it right but, unfortunately, many of these refill offers are deceptive and not eco-friendly but econo-friendly (good for the wallet) and generate more wastage especially when linked to a requirement to purchase new bottles in order to get a refill in an existing bottle,” Kierin NYC co-Founder Mona Maine de Biran said in a statement. Her Orangeburg, NY-based niche fragrance company offers recyclable, opaque bottles, made from recyclable glass, using only natural paints, with a diffuser and cap that are also easily recyclable by consumers themselves, she insists.
Whether designed to be a keepsake or rinsed and recycled, fragrance bottles will always need to strike a balance between function and emotion.