François Coty and René Lalique – a mariage made in perfume

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Recently I watched ‘Midnight in Paris‘ and as I do live in this marvelous city, I have been desperately looking for the street where, at midnight, that Peugeot Lendaulet comes rolling down to take Owen Wilson back to the 1920’s. I’d ever so love to get anywhereback there between 1900 and 1928 to live the golden age of perfume.

François Coty

I ravish the thought of being all dandy-dressed, my handkerchief trendily sented with Mouchoir de Monsieur, and walking through the perfume department of the Carrousel du Louvre – some afternoon of 1904. Sniffing Piver’s Floramye, Houbigant’s Le Parfum Idéal… I happen on the loud scene where François Coty was attempting to convince the reluctant Louvre purchaser to buy his new creation: La Rose Jacqueminot.

La Rose Jacqueminot

Either out of anger or sales ingenuity, Coty purposely dropped the bottle in the middle of the store breaking it open and drawing all the customers’ attention -and curiosity. The women smelling this powerful perfume – its powerful scent being a breach with tradition, they wanted to buy it. Under the incessant requests, the purchaser had no other choice but to buy Coty’s stock. Simply brilliant!

At the time, scents were sold in apothocary-like bottles and packaged in leather-covered boxes – nondescript despite their elegance and quality. Coty, graced again with unknowing genius, asked René Lalique, at the time his neighbor, to create the embossed gold labels for his perfumes.

René Lalique

Lalique accepted on the condition that along with the labels, he’d also be able to design the perfume bottle.

Coty’s sales took off with l’Effleurt, and simultaneously Lalique’s reputation became renowned through perfume house circles. Both were crowned with success.

L'Effleurt

Coty in time developed an intelligent philosophy to selling his perfumes that the modern perfume market has unfortunately forgotten today. He believed that offering a perfume of quality in elegant packaging at a fair price would ensure his clients’

Chypre - Coty

long-term fidelity. He was right. Coty in time developed some marvelous creations: Ambre Antique, L’Origan, Paris, Emeraude, Chypre -all in crystal works of art.

Emeraude - Coty

Lalique was equally called on by some great perfume houses such as D’Orsay, Roger & Gallet, Worth, Volnay and Arys to create their bottles. Lalique developed his own

Je reviens - Worth / bottle by Lalique

philosophy to protect his success – he limited the number of his creations to ensure their rarity. Today Lalique perfume bottles are among the most expensive and most coveted by collectors.

Jade -Roger&Gallet / bottle by Lalique

Very unfortunately, Coty became overwhelmed by his wealthy power and drunk with his success which led to his downfall. Coty as a company has continued on today managing multiple brands with great business know-how. The company has though lost its identity as a fore-runner in perfume creation and is not at all comparable to great beginnings that François Coty built the company on.

Lalique on the other hand has held true to its outstanding quality, unequalled art and controlled production. In passing, it’s noteworthy to point out that the employees in

Paris -Coty

Lalique retail stores are quite knowledgeable on this history of the company and quite willing to provide the avid collector with any available information.

Some perfume-room gossip: François Coty is quoted as saying his greatest mistake is having given Coco Chanel the composition for the N°5. This rumor that broke out a few years ago was ferociously fought out by the legal teams of each company for obvious financial reasons.

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8 thoughts on “François Coty and René Lalique – a mariage made in perfume

  1. Dear Christopher, great story, as being a Lalique collector myself I focus on exactely the early period you mentioned. I have some early perfume bottles, but I am still searching for the cyclamen Coty by Lalique ;)

    Lennart

  2. I can’t say I have any first hand experience with a Coty perfume or bottle, but the story sounds fantastic and the bottles are incredibly beautiful.

    • Thanks! While I was in London on work I wondered into a store called Boots in the general colognes area and found L’Aimant – both EdT and talcum powder. I’ve had some commentaries about its being ‘cheap’ and ‘shopping center cologne’ – but that’s nonsense. However I’m quite sure it’s not identical to the original created in 1925 or 1927, but there must be some elements that stay true. On Coty perfumes, I do have home a collector bottle of a perfume called ‘Paris’ that has stayed surprisingly beautiful.

      • That’s great you found something you like. And rightly so, “nonsense” to those people who think it’s cheap! I’d love to have a whiff of Paris, if it has lasted all that time on you. Very lucky man :)

  3. Pingback: Some Tips on Perfume Bottle Hunting | Flea Market Insiders

  4. Pingback: La packaging chez Eugénie Prahy ...une longue réflexion et des choix

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