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Beauty Initiatives Showcased at Milan Design Week

From Philippe Starck to Diptyque, from Ferragamo Parfums to Sephora, product launches, collaborations and events highlighted the bond between design and the cosmetic industry.

If Milan Design Week was previously associated with only furniture, think again — this year, the city widened its offer to showcase a range of initiatives promoting the bond between design and the beauty world.

Designer Philippe Starck embodied the combination of the two sectors, presenting his Starck Paris line of fragrances to the Italian market. Held at the Marionnaud perfumery store in Corso Magenta, one of Milan’s key districts for niche fragrances, Starck’s meet and greet at the shop was the opportunity to introduce to local consumers his Peau de Soie, Peau de Pierre and Peau d’Ailleurs scents.

Starck Paris scents.
Starck Paris scents. Courtesy Photo

“I tried to describe in Peau de Soie the real woman I know and I have crossed, which is not the bimbo I see in the magazines or on television,” Starck said, underscoring how he targeted real, “intelligent, intuitive and modern” women. For this reason, the designer described the Italian market as a priority, as “the real women are all around the Mediterranean.”

According to Starck, Peau de Pierre “is a trap, because it looks like a men’s perfume but inside there’s a feminine part,” while the most intriguing scent of the trio, Peau d’Ailleurs, has been conceived for “the next generation, which is no more interested in the small boxes [labels] of men, women, even gay or things like that.”

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The designer looked to the world of fragrance as a way to reach a longtime goal. “I have a mental sickness called creativity, and since I was born I make projects,” he said. “Sadly all this vision, all my highest dreams always become products and materiality,” he continued, stressing how fragrances were his turning point in creating “immateriality,” in addition to reconnecting him with his roots.

“When I was a young boy, my mother divorced and she bought a small perfume shop in the middle of nowhere,” recalled Stark, explaining how he used to spend all his time in the back of the store, “completely stoned with all the alcohol of these perfumes, and I was dreaming all the day, flying in the perfume.”

Starck’s approach to the category felt natural then, but he had to team with expert perfume artists and work for four years to translate his vision into the scents. “It was very interesting, because in our society everybody is in a small box: if you’re a designer, don’t sing; if you’re a singer, don’t design. This showed clearly that if you know exactly what you want, if you know how to explain it, you can make what you want,” he concluded.

A few steps away from Marionnaud, for the first time French luxury candle and scent maker Diptyque joined Design Week with an installation in the 17th century Palazzo Litta. Conceived by Italian artist Felice Limosani, the geometric, metal setup put the spotlight on the new Sablier scent diffuser, exclusively sold at the brand’s Milan store, before hitting international distribution in May.

Diptyque's installation.
Diptyque’s installation. Courtesy Photo

“The project I’ve curated for Diptyque combines time and sense of smell,” said Limosani, explaining how he worked with evocative elements as circles, mirrors and sound. To enhance the hourglass shape and the mode of operation of the products, Limosani installed the diffusers in translucent disks with which guests could interact.

Available in six of Diptyque’s core fragrances, the Sablier diffuser was introduced in 2012 and has been developed to improve its design and performance. Designed by French creative agency Servaire & Co., each diffuser features a long glass silhouette covered with a drilled, golden metal element and lasts three months with a few one-hour-long rotations a day. In addition, the diffuser can be refilled one time, before becoming a home ornament.

The six fragrances include Figuier, Fleur D’Oranger, Gingembre, Roses, Baies and 34, the scent inspired by the smell of Diptyque’s first boutique at 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris. The Sablier diffuser retails at 138 euros, or $146 at current exchange rates, while the refill is available at 40 euros, or $42.

Diptyque's Sablier diffusor.
Diptyque’s Sablier diffusor. Courtesy Photo

At the Università degli Studi, the civic university located in Milan’s central area, Salvatore Ferragamo Parfums collaborated with Italian architect Michele De Lucchi to reinterpret the theme of men’s fragrance Uomo Salvatore Ferragamo. Named “Scent of Life,” the concept was translated by De Lucchi in the creation of a wide wood staircase. “I wanted this to be a staircase where you could stop, sit and admire the beautiful cloister from a different point of view,” De Lucchi said.

The installation served as stage for a cocktail held on April 6, during which three winners of the photographic international contest “Scent of Life Talent Awards” were revealed. “We started this contest in October,” said Ferragamo Parfums’ chief executive officer Luciano Bertinelli, explaining how they received more than 1,000 images from amateur photographers from 20 countries, who interpreted the scent of Italy in their shots. “Made in Italy is one of our main assets, so it’s essential for us to narrate it in every situation,” Bertinelli concluded.

Ferragamo Parfums' cocktail.
Ferragamo Parfums’ cocktail. Gabriele Basilico

Also at the Università degli Studi, a massive installation by Sephora celebrated the launch of American tattoo artist Kat Von D’s makeup line in Italy, sold exclusively at the French beauty chain.

Reproducing the shape of the line’s best-selling Studded Kiss Lipstick, the setup was inaugurated with a dedicated event on April 4 in the presence of Kat Von D, followed by a meet and greet with fans at the Sephora store in Milan’s central Corso Vittorio Emanuele on April 8.

Kat Von D in front of the installation.
Kat Von D in front of the installation. Andrea Colombo

Aggressively promoted on Sephora’s Italian social media, the event gathered a tribe of Millennials addicted to beauty. Dressed in black leather jackets and sporting black eyeliner and bold lipsticks, Kat Von D’s army waited outside the store for hours to meet the celebrity. Access was granted for all the people who bought a product from the line on April 1, when the collection was exclusively previewed to Italian customers at the store and on Sephora’s Italian e-commerce.

“The Everlasting Liquid Lipstick was the most requested, especially in the Lolita shade,” said one of the shop’s assistants. The Studded Kiss Lipstick and the Tattoo Liner in black were also hot products, both retailing at 19.90 euros, or $21.

Adding to the makeup line and bold personal style, fans mentioned Kat Von D’s vegan habits and love for animals among the reasons why they appreciate her and contribute to her 5.8 million followers on Instagram.