NEW YORK — Oh that rascally Andy Warhol, naming a lemony perfume You’re In and streaming it into Coca-Cola bottles.
While that 1967 project — exalting Warhol’s “art is what you can get away with” mantra — was ultimately abandoned, Comme des Garçons has created a new version of the provocative unisex scent 50 years later.
Housed in industrial-looking silver columns and displayed in bright yellow cardboard cases, You’re In is to debut Thursday at Dover Street Market in New York.
“I just loved the idea,” said Adrian Joffe, chief executive officer of Comme des Garçons International and Dover Street Market, revealing the project exclusively to WWD. “They took some random cologne off the shelf of some terrible supermarket and filled up Coca-Cola bottles.”
One of Warhol’s most overlooked works, You’re In was quickly stymied by a cease and desist letter from the drinks giant, which did not look kindly on the artist’s cheeky use of the bottle, which he had spray-painted silver and capped with his initials.
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Comme des Garçons steered clear of any references to the famous soda, although the striking packaging — conceived by art director Ronnie Cooke Newhouse — echoes Warhol’s gleeful appropriation of common household goods and corporate branding.
She, Joffe and the Warhol Foundation decided to avoid referencing any paintings or illustrations.
Instead, the boxes and bottles are splashed with famous Warhol quotes, including, “I never read, I just look at pictures;” “In the future everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes;” “If everybody is not a beauty, then nobody is,” and “I never fall apart because I never fall together.”
Market sources estimate the fragrance will generate $1.5 million at retail in the first six months.
Ten percent of proceeds are to be donated to the Warhol Foundation’s endowment fund. Since its inception in 1987 at the behest of the late artist, the fund has distributed some $275 million in grants to support contemporary art, according to Michael Dayton Hermann, director of licensing at The Andy Warhol Foundation.
“There aren’t many people who would really get the concept and they did,” Hermann said, noting that the You’re In fragrance “didn’t have the life that it deserved.”
The perfume was conceived for an exhibition titled “The Museum of Merchandise” at the then Young Men’s Hebrew Association in Philadelphia.
Hermann estimates Warhol created “several dozen” of the works — 24 bottles to each wooden crate — in his possession at the time of his death. Considered an open edition, perhaps 100 were created, and collectors could purchase bottles individually. Over the past decade, individual bottles have changed hands at private auctions for prices ranging from $33,000 to $121,000, he noted.
For the new version, Christian Astuguevieille, creative director of Comme des Garçons Perfumes, elaborated extensively on Warhol’s off-the-shelf citrus concept.
The chief top notes are bitter orange, aldehydes and makrut lime zest, the latter common in Asian cooking. Jasmine, coriander leaf and pittosporum comprise the middle notes while cashmere wood, musk and metallic amber reside at the base of the fragrance.
One hundred milliliters of the eau de toilette will retail for $95. It will ultimately roll out to about 200 doors, Joffe said, starting with all Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market international stores throughout September, followed in October by perfumeries, concept stores and department stores that carry the brand’s fragrances. It is nearing a portfolio of 80 scents.
Hermann reached out to Rei Kawakubo, the creative maverick behind CDG and Joffe’s wife, about four years ago to explore possible collaborations.
He recalled that Kawakubo arrived at an initial meeting with sketches of a fully realized capsule collection. The T-shirts, sneakers, backpacks and wraps — bearing iconic Warhol portraits, cows and flowers — debuted in stores during Japan’s Golden Week holiday in 2013.
Yet Kawakubo’s connections to Warhol stretch back to 1986, when he watched fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat walk a Comme des Garçons fashion show in Brooklyn. The creative trio repaired to Indochine for a dinner. Joffe was not present, so he is not sure what was said between Kawakubo and Warhol, “both not people of many words,” he noted.
To be sure, Warhol continues to cast a long shadow on popular culture.
“He’s still so relevant,” Hermann said. “What he stood for is an idea. He didn’t defy convention so much as ignore it.”
He recalled that Warhol carried a point-and-shoot camera with him everywhere, documenting his meals, the places he went, the people around him — foreshadowing the age of Instagram. “His hyper-individuality is the world in which we live,” Hermann said.
Indeed, in the late Seventies, Warhol updated his famous “fifteen minutes” quote to “In fifteen minutes everybody will be famous,” which also appears on one bottle.
Dovetailing with the artists’ prescience about social media, Joffe and Cooke Newhouse tapped Eli Russel Linnetz, who has famously directed videos for Kanye West, to make a video about You’re In that is sure to go viral when it is released later this week.