Crys­tal vi­sion

The woman be­hind Chanel’s vis­ual iden­tity talks us through de­sign­ing its new fra­grance

ELLE (Malaysia) - - BEAUTY FEATURE -

Sylvie Le­gastelois has ded­i­cated a life­time to her craft. As head of pack­ag­ing and graphic de­sign cre­ation for Chanel, she is the woman re­spon­si­ble for trans­lat­ing the house’s codes to the bot­tles and boxes of its beauty, fra­grance and watch lines, a role she has worked her way up to since join­ing the mai­son in 1984, the year Coco was launched. Her un­con­ven­tional back­ground, which tra­versed art school, graphic de­sign, pub­lish­ing and paint­ing, set her on the path to her cur­rent role, a role that has seen her cre­ate the look for such era-defin­ing fra­grances as Pré­ci­sion, Al­lure, Chance and Égoïste.

With the new Gabrielle Chanel fra­grance, Le­gastelois builds on a rep­u­ta­tion for in­no­va­tion and beauty in de­sign that be­gan in 2005 with the launch of Rouge Al­lure lip­stick. The se­duc­tive click-tore­lease lac­quered bul­let, which took 10 years to re­alise, in­tro­duced a fresh dy­namism never be­fore seen in pack­ag­ing. The process for Gabrielle was al­most as la­bo­ri­ous, tak­ing seven years from sketch to com­ple­tion, a project Le­gastelois man­aged in part­ner­ship with per­fumer Olivier Polge. It was a bound­ary-push­ing en­ter­prise, ex­pand­ing, sub­vert­ing and evolv­ing what a Chanel bot­tle could be.

How would you de­fine the aes­thetic of Chanel? The vo­cab­u­lary is very sim­ple and com­plex all at once. It gives the im­pres­sion that the graphic style on its own is enough to evoke Chanel, but this isn’t true. Black, white, lines, curves and cham­fers are all very strong codes that al­ways bring Chanel to mind. Olivier Polge en­sures the last­ing fu­ture of the house fra­grances, while mak­ing them rel­e­vant for to­day. How do you do this for the bot­tle and box? When it comes to cre­ation, there is no in­struc­tion book­let to fol­low; there is sim­ple in­tu­ition and tal­ent. There is also in­spi­ra­tion. This is why it is cru­cial to lis­ten to women and be in tune with the times. The brand codes are an­chored in our cre­ation, but the spirit of the time stim­u­lates our in­tu­ition and keeps us from fol­low­ing the mar­ket. The idea is that Chanel should al­ways be sur­pris­ing and in­spire dreams, while keep­ing in­tact its iden­tity. What is the process for de­sign­ing a new bot­tle? It’s not some­thing that is done hap­haz­ardly. The cre­ation of a new bot­tle at Chanel re­flects a state­ment and a new mes­sage, which doesn’t en­croach on the per­son­al­ity of any of our ex­ist­ing lines. It is a gen­eral rule at Chanel to main­tain all of our lines. So a new fra­grance must find its place within the fam­ily. The de­sire to al­ways go one step fur­ther, to con­tinue to amaze… these fac­tors mean that our work is never done. What was the ini­tial cre­ative idea be­hind Gabrielle Chanel fra­grance? The house wanted to cre­ate a lu­mi­nous flo­ral. The goal was for the fra­grance to dom­i­nate the ob­ject. The bot­tle had to stay in the back­ground and put the spot­light on the fra­grance it­self. When cre­at­ing this bot­tle, we strove for the pu­rity so dear to Gabrielle Chanel, along with sim­plic­ity of de­sign and exquisitely fine glass­work. Then, Olivier Polge, and the Chanel Fra­grance Cre­ation and De­vel­op­ment Lab­o­ra­tory, cre­ated the fra­grance and its so­lar di­men­sion in­spired us to work on the in­de­fin­able colour of the cap, the la­bel and the sleeve. What were your in­spi­ra­tions? We were in­spired by the sub­tle shades of cer­tain lamés and tweeds in­ter­laced with golden and sil­ver threads. The box of­fered by the Duke of West­min­ster, and all the cre­ations that are as beau­ti­ful on the in­side as they are on the out­side, also in­spired us for the in­te­rior of the fold­ing car­ton with its gold that is brighter on the in­side than on the out­side. Made­moi­selle said “lux­ury is what you don’t see.” What were the ma­jor chal­lenges with the Gabrielle Chanel bot­tle? In terms of the cre­ative as­pect, the chal­lenge was to in­no­vate while main­tain­ing the brand DNA to sur­prise more than ever be­fore and to be se­duc­tive. In terms of the in­dus­trial as­pect, there were two ma­jor tech­ni­cal chal­lenges. They are both in­no­va­tive: The thin glass be­cause it breaks away from what we see on the fra­grance mar­ket with bot­tles made of heavy glass, and the cor­ru­gated liner, which has never been seen be­fore ex­cept for No.5 L’Eau.

“Made­moi­selle said ‘lux­ury is what you don’t see.’’’

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