Interview with Pierre Dinand, the most inspired designer of his generation and undoubtedly the most prolific, with more than 800 of the most beautiful contemporary creations to his credit.
Pierre Dinand, an insatiable form-maker, looks back on the fabulous story of a perfume that presided over the destinies of the most coveted olfactory boxes. - Hello, Pierre Bergé on the phone. Yves and I would like to see you very soon. - Let's say next week, avenue Marceau? - Tomorrow in Marrakech, it's really urgent Pierre.
We are in January ‘76 in the Ateliers Dinand in Paris. Pierre interrupts ellipses and graceful lines to immediately book a flight by telex. We leave it to him to narrate the rest of this adventure which retraces the journey of Opium, a pioneering and provocative perfume which upset the codes of design in the world of haute-perfumery.
Pierre Dinand: P. Bergé, who is not yet a billionaire, is waiting for me in his old Peugeot at the airport exit and drives me to the Villa Oasis in the Majorelle Gardens. The crackling fire in the fireplace, surrounded by green and blue tiles, welcomes my arrival in my room with its minimalist decor. Early in the afternoon, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé explain the facts to me. Squibb, the American pharmaceutical group that owns YSL perfumes, urges the duo to release a perfume within a year in accordance with the contract that binds them. The knife to the throat, Yves invites me to reflect on his projects, while handing me LSD pills (which I decline) on a superb Moroccan tray. On the large table in the living room, the drawings inspired by the great orientalist painters and the colorful bottles from the souks did not convince me and, back in Paris, I matured a completely different plan. The refusal of some makes the happiness of others Six months earlier, Nina Ricci USA, who wanted to integrate Kenzo into her collection, offered me to work on the project. Amused, I imagine a perfume in the form of an inrô, a Japanese lacquered box with compartments attached to the kimono. In September 1975, Kenzo declined the bottle, judging that a Japanese-inspired model would not appeal to Americans, still marked by Pearl Harbor. Marrakech: 15 days later: I find P. Bergé disproportionately angry. The Mamounia receptionist who confirmed my reservation dared to confuse Yves Saint-Laurent with the famous jockey Yves Saint-Martin. His anger quickly fades in view of my models. If the first ones, inspired by Cairo bottles are considered to be outdated, the black inrô triggers the excitement of Yves who, conquered, exclaims "We put spices, a ball of salt and OPIUM in it!!! ". Packaging adopted, baptized in 6 seconds. In six months, a red and gold range was born, available in six sizes: samples, pendant, extracts, eau de toilette, spray, giant dummy and display. A jade and purple version with pompom and ball of concrete is on the other hand ruled out.
Opium, a UFO in the sky of the United States
"We'll never throw this s… plastic!" ". The American cleaver falls. Not only is the bottle made of nylon, but it also has a drug name. Inconceivable in the USA! Never mind, Yves threatens to break the contract pushing Bob Miller, boss of the Laboratories, to authorize the sale on other continents.
Paris June ‘77, Marvin Traub, CEO of the famous New York store Bloomingdale's, visits me and inquires about my new projects. "Dear Pierre, what's new? ". Pointing to the bottle of Opium, I reply “That! “, adding that the Americans refuse to market it on their soil. " It's fantastic! I don't need Squibb's agreement to sell a French perfume in my store,” enthuses Marvin. I then witnessed his incredible responsiveness: “Traub rents a Hertz truck and exhausts all Parisian stocks before shipping them by plane. Fifteen days later, Opium was so successful at Bloomingdale's that Squibb launched a press release to announce the pride of its teams in being at the origin of this unique fragrance. My name is of course eclipsed, the credit going to the creativity of the American laboratory. The breathtaking launch of pomp will take place a year later on the boat Le Pèlerin moored in the port of South Street at the tip of Manhattan, where the Chinese landed their cargoes of opium!
An addictive perfume, object of all desires
- Hello? This is Francois Dalle. Well done Dinand! Opium is great, I want the same for L'Oréal! - Let's schedule a meeting!
In 5 minutes, I'm already on my way to your workshops, you have 6 months ahead of you.
Rejecting the choice of couturier Jacques Fath, it was agreed to use Magie de Lancôme and give it a mysterious character with voodoo connotations. Magie Noire, designed in the same materials as Opium, was released in the spring of ‘78. That same year, the President of Revlon also called me. So I insisted on working with the talented Pierre Balmain, whose brand is owned by the group. Ivoire was born in ‘79. The extent of Opium juice, in the technical sense of the term, was then matched only by its worldwide success. “The war of the pompoms”, according to the press, is declared. Estée Lauder files a lawsuit against Squibb. Opium juice would only be a copy of "Youth Dew", his first successful oriental perfume. Loser, her revenge will take the form of Cinnabar, topped with a lacquered polymer cap using the color codes of Opium. Knowing that I was not responsible for the olfactory composition, she entrusted me with the design of Pleasures which would be released 10 years later. Finally, it was the turn of Laboratoires A.-H. Robins, in Richmond, Virginia, owners of Caron for entrusting me with “Nocturnes” a black and gold bottle in biodegradable cellulose acetate, then Rubinstein, owner of Giorgio Armani, for whom I designed Armani. Meanwhile, Dior, owned by LVMH, without consulting me, launched Poison in 1982. This is how Opium derivatives spread around the world.
The genesis of Opium, the best-selling perfume in the world, is now visible on Avenue Marceau, at the Yves-Saint-Laurent museum, to which I donated my models and sketches. But what happened to the galalith jewel (designed by my wife Danielle Poullain) of the dark and blue jade version that did not catch the attention of the great couturier? Alternative Fragrance Festival offers the opportunity to discover how a jewel can contribute to the creation of a bottle. Indeed, I had the pleasure of designing a new range of perfumes whose cap is inspired by this jewel acquired by Nadia Benaisa, creator of the brand Les Soeurs de Noé. A delicate link between East and West, fragrances and packaging echo the passion of the mythical couple Saint-Laurent/Bergé for Franco-Moroccan aesthetic accords.
by Creezy Courtoy