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Bringing fragrance back: Four French companies reviving heritage brands

Katie Nichol
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Bringing fragrance back: Four French companies reviving heritage brands

A slew of recent launches has seen a trend for the revival of fragrances that had their heyday during perfumery’s golden age. We take a closer look at these brands and how their packaging is reinterpreting classic design codes.

Bienaimé 1935

Entrepreneur Cécilia Mergui’s chance find of a vintage Bienaimé compact online led her to purchase the dormant fragrance brand (founded in 1935 by perfumer Robert Bienaimé) in 2019 and relaunch it last November.

Creating refillable, Art Deco-inspired products that celebrate French craftsmanship was key to the revival of the brand. Its bespoke fragrance flacons that can refilled by unscrewing the pump – Aptar Beauty + Home’s La Petite model – are created by French glassmaker Waltersperger using semi-automatic production.

The brand opted for screenprinted labels and shell-shaped golden caps. The cylindrical paperboard boxes used for the secondary packaging are designed to be kept and repurposed. Bienaimé 1935’s scents also feature in the brand’s liquid soaps, which come in glass bottles with white plastic caps. Aluminum refills are used for both the liquid soaps and fragrances. Future launches in the pipeline for the brand include a candle and a hand cream.

Spoturno 1921

Spoturno 1921, the first fragrance from Véronique Coty’s company La Cité des Parfums, is a revisited version of a scent composed 100 years ago by her great-grandfather François Coty.

The extrait de parfum’s packaging embraces French craftsmanship and was designed by interior architect Tristan Auer. Waltersperger made the bespoke, crystal flacon, which is the result of semi-automatic production.

 

The stopper, with its inlaid blooming lily, was torch-blown by glass artisan Adrian Colin, and the flacon sealed with a gold thread using the baudruchage technique. A gold, embossed aluminum label (DB Groupe) adorns the facing.

Several French artisans worked on the “altar box” – a curved coffret with double doors. Emporte-pièces des Mauges (EPM) created the metal structure, while Atelier l'Etoile was behind the emerald crackle effect with white gold kintsugi detailing on the exterior, and Ateliers Gohard adorned the base and doors with gold leaf. Bespoke mirrors on the inside of the doors were made by Benoît Bertron, a glass artisan at Kopper Glass. The wooden, rectangular travel boxes (Dardel) are satin-lined, sheathed with paper from Winter and hot-stamped in gold with the Spoturno crest. Dardel also created the wooden presentation boxes, which are lined in goatskin and covered in paper (Winter).

AB 1882

Recently launched French brand AB 1882 has years of history behind it, and was co-founded by Marie Giffo, great grand-daughter of French perfumer Alexis Biette, and Marielle Ravily, a chemical engineer specialized in fragrance. With the intent of reviving the original fragrances created by Biette, the two partners worked with an independent perfumer, Sarah Baron-Abrioux, to rework the original scents.

Aiming to create elegant, eco-friendly products, the brand debuted with a collection of refillable solid perfumes, convenient for on-the-go use. Made with between 96% and 100% natural raw materials, the fragrances come in customizable, galvanized zamak cases (Metapack) with a possibility of choosing the color of the leather adornment decorating the top of the case.

Valorizing sustainability, the brand sources its dead-stock leather from French leatherworker Mauve et Fauve, which is then cut to size and decorated. The company opted for suede-effect cotton pouches (PforPack) rather than a traditional paper-based secondary packaging.

Aside from the fragrances, AB 1882 offers a range of soaps, which are made by hand via hot process in France's Vendée region.

Cherigan

Originally founded in 1929, Cherigan was once considered a brand for “VIPs and the jetset”, and is now stepping back into the spotlight under the guidance of Luc Gabriel, CEO of The Different Company. Gabriel acquired the brand in 2016 and officially debuted its revamp at Italian fragrance trade show Pitti Fragranze in September 2021.

Aiming to recreate its historic perfumes, the brand revamped the packaging, designing bespoke, rectangular heavily Art Deco inspired fragrance flacons (Bormioli Luigi). JPM Décors applied lacquer to the flacon’s base in order to achieve a “play with light and color” effect, with each new fragrance sporting a different shade.

The flacons are enameled in genuine gold on the facing and equipped with Aptar Beauty + Home’s invisible pump. Topped with polished zamak caps bearing the brand’s logo, the bottles come in rigid boxes that are embossed and hot-stamped in gold.

The brand launched a recreated heritage scent, Fleur de Tabac, and six contemporary scents. Plans are underway to expand its historic perfumes range housed in bespoke flacons for launch later this year.

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