LIQUID ASSET: Even through a mask, the scent of fresh roses was everywhere at the Monnaie de Paris, where a series of coins celebrating the Miss Dior fragrance was being unveiled on Thursday night.
“When Monsieur Dior walked up the staircase of the Avenue Montaigne, he would say ‘flowers, flowers, more flowers’,” said Parfums Christian Dior’s chief executive officer Laurent Kleitman, noting the profusion of flowers that decorated the grand staircase and reception rooms of the Paris mint’s headquarters on Quai de Conti re-created the ambiance of the couturier’s 1947 show.
Describing the coin designs as luxurious for their ability to attract light and precious by their materials and the hands that created them, Kleitman called them “art objects that go far beyond the idea of currency” that stemmed from the fruitful meeting of the know-how of two houses with a shared love of craft in all its forms.
Celebrating the apparently fleeting nature of a scent in tangible gold and silver coins was a way to “grant [Miss Dior] the kind of eternity only precious metal can bring” while nodding to the powerful connection to memory smells have, the executive later explained. “It’s poetic. Perfume is evanescent, but everything around it is eternal.”
Part of the French Excellence series that previously featured Boucheron, Cartier and Jean-Paul Gaultier, among others, the Dior series consists of eight designs — a commemorative silver medal and seven coins with denominations going from 10 to 10,000 euros.
“We are a very old — the oldest — house and I always say that Monnaie de Paris has a soul because we have a story. What we want is to work with houses that tell a particular story that is emblematic of French art and culture, and of the lifestyle and excellence in know-how of our country,” said Marc Schwartz, chief executive officer of France’s sovereign mint.
The recognizable shape of the Miss Dior bottle was the starting point for all the designs, according to Joaquin Jimenez, director of artistic creations and head engraver of the Paris mint.
As legal tender cannot bear any branding other than the insignia of the French republic, Jimenez worked to express the transparency of a bottle on solid precious metals. “The star became a window of sorts in which I included other elements. The challenge here is to create an impression of depth when the light hits these engravings that are a fraction of a millimeter deep,” he said.
Signatures of the perfume and house, including its bow, stylized roses, as well as the houndstooth motif and the five-pointed star the couturier loved, adorned coins going from 10-euro silver and 200-euro gold bows to the round 50- and 500-euro formats.
In a first for the 1,200-year-old institution, a two-kilo proof with a nominal value of 10,000 euros was also created. Using a combination of traditional minting and casting, it is shaped like the perfume’s bottle in yellow gold and adorned with seven flowers and a bow in rose gold.
Housed in a trunk-shaped case and accompanied by a sketch of a blowsy rose by French artist Xavier Casalta, it is to be auctioned at Sotheby’s next March, although details were still being fleshed out.
As for the rest, they will be sold starting Friday, although the evening’s guests could acquire them already. “And though we don’t really like that at the Monnaie de Paris, we do accept credit card payments,” joked Schwartz.