The name Pierre Dinand may not ring a bell, but chances are that you have spritzed yourself with one of his perfume bottles.
The French native has created some of the world’s most iconic perfume bottles over the course of his more than 50-year career, including creations for Madame Rochas, Yves Saint Laurent, Moschino, Paco Rabanne, Givenchy, Armani, and Calvin Klein, among others.
Dinand studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts, a fine arts school in Paris, but admits he “wasn’t good enough”.
Dinand soon found a job in the automobile industry. “I was a test driver, but they discovered I didn’t have a driver’s license…” Pierre was fired and ended up working for a chemical company. The firm was about to launch a new product. “But the package was hideous. I decided to re-design it myself”. The boss was delighted. Dinand was promoted to chief advertising executive and his wages tripled.
He was later hired by an advertising agency, and specialised in luxury goods. One of his clients was the Rochas perfume company. The brand was on the lookout for a new bottle design.
When “Madame Rochas” hit the shelves in 1958, something stood out. The stopper was not made of glass but rather, entirely of plastic and metal. The perfume was a success. Dinand joined Rochas, and designing perfume bottles became his profession.
For Dinand, the design process is a natural progression. He spends time with the noses, and works closely with the perfumer to ensure the smell of the fragrance and the design of the flacon are in sync. “This process is gradually changing,” says Dinand, “I usually don’t know how the fragrance smells now. But, I make it a point to ask the perfumer questions to ensure we’re on the same page”.
500 Bottles and Counting
Having created 500 perfume bottles, does Dinand have a favourite? “Of course, I have favourites,” quips Dinand. His best five include Opium for Yves Saint Laurent (1977), Eternity for Calvin Klein (1986), Calandre for Paco Rabanne (1968), Eau Sauvage for Dior (1966), Verveine for L’Occitane (2000), and all eight flacons for Vilhelm Parfumerie (2016).
The designer, however, believes there has been a gradual decline in the creativity in bottle design. “There is very little creativity left. People are copying designs,” the timbre of his voice conveying disappointment.
With marketing studies throwing up the same results for all brands, most flacon designs are not memorable, resulting in a short shelf life. But with Dinand continuously pushing the boundaries of design, there is still hope.
An exhibition of Dinand’s work will be on display from October 17 till November 19 at Le Grand Musée du Parfum in Paris.