Every 80-year anniversary deserves a commemorative event befitting such a milestone. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner went on a seven-party global tour when he became the world’s randiest octogenarian. Mickey Mouse got a spectacular firework display at Disney World. Lacoste, on the other hand, is bringing out a brand-new fragrance inspired by the iconic polo shirt created by its founder René Lacoste in 1933.
The fragrance, L12.12 Noir is a contemporary take on a classic that, according to the press release is, “both fresh and aromatic whilst deep, intense and warm, inhabiting an olfactory space not unlike dusk, where elements of day and night mingle to create a truly unique moment”.
Wordsworth himself couldn’t have put it more poetically. At a launch event in the French capital, we spoke to debonair designer Christophe Pillet, who as well as being an award-winning product designer, engages in many other fields including architecture, interiors and furniture and stage design. He also worked with design legend Philippe Starck for more than five years.
Talking about his role in creating a bottle worthy of such a significant milestone in the brand’s history, he explained that he sees himself as “a storyteller, similar to a moviemaker or writer.”
Pillet agrees that some people might be surprised by the amount of effort and thought that has gone into making the flacon. It’s an incredibly simple design until you inspect it closely and notice the fabric Croc logo and grip along the side to stop it slipping out of your hand in the bathroom.
“The bottle is quite obvious,” he says. “It’s what the average person on the street might draw if asked to draw a bottle. It’s square but it’s soft, sensual, functional. It looks like a mock-up of a bottle rather than a bottle. It looks like there might be a secret inside.” The fabric crocodile logo actually posed the design team some challenges as it had never been done before.
“We had to invent a new glue for the Lacoste sign to make sure it stayed on properly,” Pillet says. “We couldn’t have people ripping it off in the shop or babies swallowing it. These things have to go through a lot of testing.”
Does he apply the same principles when designing a fragrance bottle as when designing other things, such as furniture or interiors? “Any kind of product, beside its proper functionality, is desirable by its emotional content, by the fact that it projects people into an aspirational universe,” he explains, like some venerable French philosopher musing on his chaise longue at the Sorbonne.
“For a bottle of perfume, it is even more important than for any other kind of product.”
Asked whether he had any particular man in mind when designing the flacon he says, “Not really a kind of man, but a kind of man’s mood, which is all about this relaxed night-time, summer-chic moment of life.” His wisest words, however, are left for last. “I wanted to make a classic, something with an iconic nature, which appeals to everyone.
As a designer you want to make something that lasts a long time. You want it to have constancy. Just like the Lacoste shirt, which is so well made that it’s handed down from brother to brother. With Noir, it’s the same thing.”