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PARIS — The art world is having a brush with beauty. Yves Saint Laurent Parfums, L’Oréal and Givaudan are among the companies hosting or sponsoring art exhibitions here.
Yves Saint Laurent Parfums is feting the 30th anniversary of the introduction of Opium, its best-selling women’s scent, with an Opium den — a 3,767-square-foot exhibition in Loft Sévigné in the Marais district here. Dubbed “Opium Express,” the exhibit explores the controversial fragrance launched in 1977, which is still forbidden in Saudi Arabia and China. Sources estimate some 100 million bottles of Opium have been sold since its launch.
“Opium is one of those fragrances that everybody has heard about and has an opinion about,” said a spokesman for the company. “But even for women who may think they know it, they can rediscover it.”
Rather than create a retrospective, the company recruited six contemporary French artists, including photographers Seb Janiak and Tanguy Loyzance, to reinterpret different aspects of Opium. A modern, graffiti-style mural depicting a “parfum de dépendance” (an addictive perfume, in English), for instance, is next to a poem penned by designer Yves Saint Laurent for Opium’s introduction.
Visitors can also enjoy a massage or makeover in an oriental-style Opium den, watch films in a space designed like a plush carriage or nose through drawers in a curiosity shop. One drawer, for instance, triggers a mechanism releasing the Opium scent note by note. Opium Express will run through Jan. 19.
At the Musée de l’Homme, L’Oréal is sponsoring “Women of the World,” an exhibit by artist Titouan Lamazou. It depicts women from wide-ranging backgrounds. There’s Zanouba, a refugee from Darfur, and Linda, a fish merchant in Indonesia. Altogether, Lamazou painted, photographed, drew or videotaped 200 women from 15 countries that he interviewed over six years. He asked questions such as “What makes you wake up in the morning?” and “Do you think you’re pretty?” The exhibition, which runs until March, is among L’Oréal’s first partnerships through its new Corporate Foundation, established in October.
Meanwhile, Givaudan perfumer Antoine Maisondieu captured the scent of a sports car’s leather interior for the exhibition “Les Années Folles” (“The Roaring Twenties,” in English) at the Musée de la Mode here.