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Three years after the original Annette Green Perfume Museum closed in New York, its collection of nearly 2,000 perfume bottles came out of hiding last week 3,000 miles away at a new home in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles.
Robert Nelson, director of FIDM’s museum and galleries, maintains the school now boasts the country’s only perfume museum. The collection spans more than a century and includes perfume bottles from more than 165 international fragrance houses ranging from the unusual, like an antique De Vigny perfume called Le Golliwogg, to the most well known: Chanel, Lanvin, Ralph Lauren, Estée Lauder and Dolce & Gabbana.
“Of all the colleges and universities, the Fashion Institute was chosen — I still can’t get my head around that mentally,”; said Nelson. “It just has been a wonderful gift to the [Beauty Industry Merchandising and Marketing] program and to our students at the college.”;
The museum, named for the president emeritus of the Fragrance Foundation, was first opened at the Foundation’s Manhattan offices in 1999. But the ninth-floor location was problematic, according to Green, because it was virtually inaccessible to the public. Instead, she wanted the museum to be approachable, especially to students studying the beauty industry. “One thing led to another and here it is,”; she said. “It was a dream of mine to have a museum. My goal was to elevate the subjects.”;
For the curtain-raising, the bottle collection is being featured in two exhibits. “Fashion Makes Scents”; is a temporary exhibit that runs until Dec. 2 at FIDM’s 10,000-square-foot ground-floor museum and mixes 300 bottles with garments, shoes and jewelry from the school’s in-house stock of 10,000 fashion pieces. On FIDM’s second floor, a smaller permanent space houses 165 bottles.
The temporary exhibit streams through several rooms, each of which was assigned to a different curator, who chose fashions and perfume bottles to represent the stylistic themes Art Nouveau, Orientalism, Streamline Moderne, Space Age and Sportif.
At the permanent installation, whose pieces will be rotated, Nelson said items were carefully selected for their age, shape, historical import, packaging and uniqueness. A standout piece is a Helena Rubinstein bottle from 1940 sculpted to look like an opera singer decked out in feathers.
This story first appeared in the October 18, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
One of Green’s favorite pieces is a 1936 fragrance by Elsa Schiaparelli called Shocking, with a miniature mannequin bust bottle in Mae West’s dimensions. As Green explained while recounting the story of Shocking’s creation, Schiaparelli had a whimsical sense of humor. “She wrote Mae West a letter requesting her measurements. She [West] thought it was for a corset, but was sent back a bottle,”; Green said.
Selective Beauty’s U.S. Unit
NEW YORK — Selective Beauty SA, a Paris manufacturing and distribution company, has established a U.S. subsidiary at 594 Broadway here with Sylvie Ganter as president.
The new unit, Selective Beauty Corp., will manage the national distribution of brands that already are under license, including Sonia Rykiel, Balmain and Max Mara, as well as those with global distribution agreements, such as Chopard. Next spring, the U.S. subsidiary plans to launch Agent Provocateur in specialty stores and Benetton in department stores, according to the company.
Ganter, who has worked in the beauty business for 13 years in the U.S. and France, was executive vice president of sales and marketing at Fresh and, before that, vice president of the U.S. fragrance division at Hermès.
Selective Beauty SA was founded in 2000 by two former executives at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Corrado Brondi and Christophe Cervasel. The firm established a presence in Europe soon after forming distribution partnerships with Lanvin, Burberry, Lolita Lempicka, Bulgari, Chopard and Elizabeth Arden. It also develops and distributes brands through licensing agreements with Agent Provocateur, Benetton, Max Mara and Trussardi.
Cervasel said in a statement that the firm is expanding in the U.S. in order to become “a truly global company.”; Noting that the U.S. commands 25 percent of the global beauty market, he added, “The opening of the U.S. subsidiary gives Selective Beauty 70 percent coverage of the world market via direct subsidiaries.”; Brondi added, “Few companies can offer similar coverage.”