Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sniffapalooza Master Class with Marc Rosen

The last few days of October have brought a confusing mix of rain and snow, which made yesterday's event even more special, considering myself and many other fine perfume loving folks tracked through the  slushy streets of New York City to attend a Master Class with legendary designer, Marc Rosen. He was promoting his book, Glamour Icons: Perfume Bottle Designs, and speaking to us about his 40 years of experience in the fragrance industry. Rosen confirmed that although it's rare there are times when the bottle comes before the juice, but even rarer are the times when designer and perfumer come together to create a total experience, which was surprising given the intimacy between juice and bottle.

Rosen spoke with great ease and passion about his take on glamour and his love of design. He told a funny little story of his first triumph as a young designer, winning over the self important Charles H. Revson with his intuitive design for Moon Drops Christmas. Then he turned to the beginning of the 20th Century, highlighting important bottles from each decade, and ended with a hopeful note about the future of design, telling us now more than ever beauty and innovation are necessary. In his beautifully photographed book, the perfume bottles take on a life of their own, furthering his notion that a little luxury can "transcend our immediate circumstance." If we choose, perfume can be the "ideal self portrait," and what sits on the vanity does reflect our taste and style. What we look at can inspire us. He expanded on the idea of the importance of the bottle in hand. It is the ultimate in tactile communication, the silent salesman.  The bottle is an introduction to what might be inside. The weight, texture and color, can predict what the fragrance will smell like, and most of all it should make you should want to reach out and touch it.

Rosen designed KL for Karl Lagerfeld, in the early 80's. One day Rosen received a phone call from Mr. Lagerfeld telling him he was visiting the gardens in Versailles when all of the sudden the Concord flew overhead, this collision of 18th Century and 20th Century is exactly what he wanted his bottle to reflect. At first, Rosen was clueless, then he recalled Lagerfeld's runway shows and remembered how his models walked with fans in hand. As he meditated on this idea he began to see the fan as "a weapon of flirtation," certainly this would be an ideal symbol. Rosen said Karl loved it. The bottle graces the cover of his book.

This Master Class was presented by Sniffapalooza and hosted by the lovely Karen Dubin at New London Luxe in Chelsea.

Photo:  Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) watercolor on paper fan with bamboo support