With fashion month coming to a close, there’s no better way to celebrate (and unwind) than with a treatment before takeoff. A former colleague of mine closed out the menswear shows with a massage and said he didn’t even mind that his flight was delayed a few hours when he arrived at the airport—all of the stress and tension had completely disappeared before he even whipped out his passport at check-in. Here, two spots worth hitting up before you say bon voyage:
Where: Spa My Blend by Clarins, Le Royal Monceau, 37, avenue Hoche, 01.42.99.88.99
What to get: Ask for the Anti-Jet Lag Stopover Massage for Face & Body because, let’s face it, you’re probably still jet-lagged. This rubdown refreshes and moisturizes dehydrated skin after weeks of vacillating between espresso and champagne. It also claims to relieve tiredness, insomnia, upset stomach, headache, and irritability. (If you’re anything like me, you’ve ticked off all five boxes and already made an appointment.)
Where: Biologique Recherche Ambassade de la Beauté, 32, avenue des Champs-Élysées, 01.41.18.96.84
What to get: Sign yourself up for the Soin Minceur, stat! This “modeling massage” helps drain toxins (of which you’ve probably stockpiled) and leaves you feeling toned and rejuvenated. A textured rubber mitt is used to work essential oils into the skin, leaving you soft, glowing, and ready for the long haul ahead.
It’s been a busy season over at the landmark Guerlain flagship on the Champs-Elysées: A century after the building first opened, the French perfume house has unveiled a luxurious top-to-toe revamp courtesy of Peter Marino, a refresh that included annexing the old nightclub Montecristo next door and creating a restaurant called Le 68.
But that’s not all that’s new—or old, for that matter—chez Guerlain. The house is now celebrating the 160th anniversary of its famous gilded Bee bottle, which was created for the Empress Eugenie to contain her Eau de Cologne Impériale. It is also launching a Couture sequel (available in France March 2014) to its best-selling fragrance, La Petite Robe Noire. In a private walk-through, in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser discusses the storied brand’s new “homey” ambiance, from the food/fragrance connection to a heritage accessory revival—plus, what makes the newest Petite Robe Noire truly couture.
How do you describe the Guerlain flagship’s new ambiance?
When the Guerlain family built this building a century ago, it was a boutique, but it was also their home. We wanted the whole space to [feel] like a house: You can dine at the restaurant; write a postcard and mail it here; the perfume, beauty and skin care sections on the ground floor invite browsing; and the marble echoes the idea of wafts of fragrance—it just draws you in. Peter Marino’s attention to detail is amazing—there’s a shagreen banister that I love so much, I almost want to sleep next to it, right there on the stairs.
Upstairs, there’s still the tiered stand presenting the house library of creations, set amidst a rotating exhibition of historic perfume bottles and fragrance-inspired creations by contemporary artists. And if you want to take a nap, there’s always the spa on the third floor. It features an orchid garden, as well as works by Giacometti, Bérard and Jean-Michel Franck that were done for the original spa, which was the first in the world when it opened in 1939.
How did you and chef Guy Martin work together on the restaurant Le 68?
For the restaurant, there was just this instant connection: Guy is naturally curious and passionate about the seasons—at Guerlain we speak “seasons.” Basically, I said, this is who we are—185 years of fragrances—so just explore and do your thing. What I love is that with Shalimar, for example, everyone always talks about it as an oriental vanilla, but Guy seized on all its citrus notes and extrapolated it into a macaron with marmalade and a zing of bergamot. As it turns out, his mother wore Shalimar, so he understood immediately. He’s also [transformed] La Petite Robe Noire into a chocolate pastry. There are so many clever details—it’s a true feast.
What are the other new additions to the house?
Upstairs, there is a private salon for bespoke consultations, another space where bottles can be customized with ribbons, and a [room] where we’ve reintroduced limited-edition archival pieces like silk scarves, fans and perfumed gloves. When Guerlain was named official supplier to the Empress Eugenie, in 1853, it was also a gantier, or glove maker. I had to learn everything about leather treatment because if you miss the window for adding fragrance, it’s too late. My job was to find that moment. We did some gloves with Mitsouko, and others with La Petite Robe Noire, which is subtler.
Is there a story behind La Petite Robe Noire Couture?
This is La Petite Robe Noire’s glamorous sister; she’s the one who’s out there on the red carpet at night. She’s floral, fruity, bubbly, slightly eccentric and vivacious. You could say that the length has changed—there’s a different color and texture; it’s an evening gown. There’s still this gourmand and fruity character. The top note is sparkling because it’s like Oscar night, so I amped up the bergamot. But I emphasized its depth and presence with chypre to add mystery. My idea is not to create a collection, but rather, the woman who wears it has grown along with [the fragrance].
68 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, France, +33 1 45 62 52 57
This week, Dior will inaugurate an exhibition in tribute to the brand’s original, groundbreaking perfume, Miss Dior, at the Grand Palais, in Paris. Launched by Christian Dior in 1947, Miss Dior was named for his beloved sister, Catherine, and its green chypre blend was a bold break from the powdery fragrances of the day—a gambit, like the New Look, that became an instant hit. For the Miss Dior exhibition, the house gave carte blanche to fifteen female designers from all horizons, whose challenge it was to reinterpret the spirit of the fragrance. In an exclusive preview, Style.com spoke with Ionna Vautrin, who took the iconic Dior silk glove and spun it into an architectural feat called Gloriette.
You’ve won two Wallpaper awards (in 2009 and 2011), as well as a prize from the City of Paris, for your creations. Is that why Dior reached out to you for this project?
I don’t think it was because of any one piece. I think it was probably more of a whole. My work is rather feminine and maternal, and I’m guessing that that is what brought me to their attention.
How did the collaboration come together?
It all took shape very simply. When I met with Dior, they presented to me the history of Miss Dior and its codes—the bow, the houndstooth, the dresses, et cetera. Gloves, of course, were a part of the story. I was intrigued by the idea of diverting that shape into a more decorative element that evokes an iconic fragrance.
How did you go about creating Gloriette?
That part wasn’t necessarily so simple! I finally came up with the idea of creating a kind of “micro-architecture” that was somewhere between couture and architecture. I found a very silky technical fabric and had it made into thousands of gloves. Gloriette speaks to a lot of the house codes at once: The layers of gloves that make up the roof create a kind of rosette, or flower; it also suggests a tutu or a dress or a fan, but at the same time, there’s also kind of an animal appeal—it could be feathers on a rare bird. In the end, Gloriette is a giant kiosk, a bit like the luxurious Follies Dior designed to present his perfumes, but in an XXL version.
What does it say about the perfume?
The roof picks up the Miss Dior color codes of black, white, and pink, of course. But what I find even more compelling is that it stimulates the imagination around the creation of perfume: It is something you pass through. You can linger or not, but it is something that you can use and spend time with. Where this fits in with my work is that you can look at it and see many things at once. Lots of different impressions come together whether you are looking at it from the inside—which is like standing under a crinoline—or viewing it from the outside. That said, I am a designer; I don’t consider myself an artist.
For you, what’s the difference between art and design?
The difference for me is that, as a designer, I am in the habit of creating things that should be useful and functional: A chair should be useful every day. I look at design as sitting at the intersection of what is practical and utilitarian—and technical in terms of production—but also sculptural, because an object should spark desire. I think there’s an earthy quality to design. I love telling a story, but I’m not looking to make a political statement. An object’s first purpose is to be functional.
How does design differ from fashion?
For me, fashion is a separate art. It’s a bit like sculpture. When you look at what Christian Dior was doing, it was very sculptural. Creating silhouettes demands know-how, good taste, precision, and sophistication. You have to have a keen sense of detail. It’s really a very special, specific profession. It really demands that you dedicate your life to it, and it’s reinvented constantly.
Did Miss Dior alter anything about how you see design?
This was a chance for me to have a project that was just a little bit zany. I think I am more known for designing small, domestic objects, and Miss Dior allowed me to explore new territory on a few levels. Because the show is designed to travel, it presented a specific set of challenges. Everything has to disassemble and reassemble easily, like Legos. It made me want to explore scenography and micro-architectures.
How familiar were you with Miss Dior before this project?
Obviously, I knew the bottle, because it’s an icon. Beyond that, funnily enough, years ago I got my start working in a design studio that only did perfume bottles! So I knew Miss Dior’s shape, fragrance, and a bit of its history. It’s amusing to have gone from a time in my life when I was designing perfume bottles—not for Dior, mind you—to finding myself on the flip side, telling a story about a perfume through a decorative piece. For me, Miss Dior is a classic, like any other emblematic object. It’s a reference. And there’s also the fact that, in its day, Miss Dior was renegade. It’s the radical side that I find the most touching.
The Esprit Dior, Miss Dior exhibition will be on show at the Grand Palais from November 13 to 25, 2013.