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.
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.
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.
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’
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.
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
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.
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
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.