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Philippe Starck Reworks L’Air du Temps Bottle

A modern designer tackles the mythic flacon, originally created by Marc Lalique and Robert Ricci.

L’Air du Temps by Starck.

PARIS — For his first fragrance-related project, Philippe Starck reworked the mythic L’Air du Temps bottle for Nina Ricci.

This story first appeared in the September 3, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

It was a natural move, given he long has been a fan of the scent, which he wears. “There is no difference in making a rocket, a hotel, a motorbike, a museum or a fragrance because the actual object is of no importance,” explained Starck in a video. “What’s important is how it’s going to affect the person who lives in that place or with that object. So for me, a fragrance, and above all, L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci, is a matter of vibration. It’s getting the air to vibrate in a way that suddenly moves us.”

L’Air du Temps was launched post-World War II, in 1948, and its bottle, created by Robert Ricci and Marc Lalique, had doves engraved in its stopper. Three years later, they introduced another L’Air du Temps bottle with a pair of doves kissing, which remains the fragrance’s iconic flacon.

The design of L’Air du Temps’ bottle for the eau de toilette, meanwhile, underwent numerous iterations. What linked them all was that each featured the kissing birds.

Margerie Barbes-Petit, brand director at Parfums Nina Ricci, which is owned by Puig, called them a universal message of peace, love and freedom. She said the collaboration with Starck was meant to “reinvent this unique symbol.”

Rather than keeping the dove motif at the top of the bottle, the designer extruded it to comprise the entire flacon.

“He treated the doves’ kiss as a sculpture,” explained Barbes-Petit, adding it recalled a phrase Ricci liked to say, which was, “Each of my fragrances must be a work of art.”

The new-look bottle “permits us to put L’Air du Temps in l’air du temps,” said Barbes-Petit, using the French expression meaning “in the spirit of the times.”

The L’Air du Temps by Starck flacon will be sold as a special edition starting in mid-October in Europe, Canada, Asia and their corresponding duty-free markets. It is not yet decided whether it’s to be carried only for a limited time period.

The 45-ml. edt spray bottle will retail in France for 69 euros, or $88.40 at current exchange.

Barbes-Petit explained the L’Air du Temps by Starck project is meant to combine luxury and accessibility.

“That’s fundamentally in the DNA of the [Nina Ricci] brand and also in Philippe Starck’s approach,” she said.