November 13, 2014
French perfume maison Guerlain has invited its top customers and collectors to an undisclosed location to experience its rare and valuable fragrance bottles firsthand.
Held at a secret space in New York on Nov. 13, Guerlain will present the “Exceptional Pieces” exhibit’s limited-edition bottles to guests personally invited by the brand. This is the first time Guerlain has hosted this type of event outside of France and will likely cause a lot of attention amid the collector’s circuit given the historical importance of the bottles.
"True collectors of Guerlain fragrances appreciate the history behind the brand," said Marie Line Patry, national retail development director at Guerlain, New York. "Example L'heure Bleue, a fragrance that was created in 1912 and Shalimar which was created in 1925.
"Clients especially love the collaborations between companies like Baccarat because they know how to express the beauty and art behind a Guerlain fragrance," she said.
"New York is the perfect place to exhibit the institution of Guerlain. It is a city filled with culture, art, fashion and beauty."
Ms. Line Patry will serve as the event's host where Guerlain will display a number of the maison’s perfumes and opulent bottles. The bottles on display will range in value from $5,000 to $50,000.
The bottles featured in Exceptional Pieces have such high asking prices due to the fact that the fragrance flagons were created in limited qualities and are numbered. Given their rarity, these decanters are often purchased by collectors around the world.
Of the bottles displayed, many have been developed through collaborations with artists such as Kuntzel & Deygas, the artistic duo behind the drawing on decanters of Guerlain’s La Petite Robe Noire.
Guerlain's La Petite Robe Noire fragrance bottle, Macon & Lesquoy edition
Guerlain has had a longstanding history of working with gifted artisans and craftsmen who have “explored, invented, fashion and contributed” to the house’s excellence over the last 180 years. This expertise extends to the details of its fragrance bottles, each of which needs hours of work from different craftsmen to complete.
The Exceptional Pieces invite-only exhibit not only celebrates the finished products but the artistic glass blowers, engravers, illuminators, fine gold gilders, jewelers and jewelry craftsmen, embroiderers, ceramicists and sculptors working behind-the-scenes at Guerlain. These individuals are responsible for Guerlain’s signature barbichage, baudruchage, wax seal and branded stamp, all techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Beyond Guerlain’s in-house artisans, the maison has also partnered with revered brands such as Baccarat, Pochet, Gripoix and Lesage to create its fragrance bottles. Guerlain’s work with these brands have influenced its history and approach toward the maison’s aesthetics.
Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue with decorative jewelry by Gripoix for its 100th anniversary
During the event Nov. 13, Guerlain will donate a portion of the night’s proceeds, raised by purchases of the rare bottles on display, to March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and infant health.
Guerlain’s Exceptional Pieces exhibit works to outline the brand’s cultural significance and validates the allure and and price tag associated with its products. By taking a historical angle to the pieces on display, Guerlain can educate dedicated consumers further.
The perfumer has taken this approach digitally as well.
Guerlain is passing on 180 years of know-how through an email campaign focused on its dedication to craftsmanship and quality.
In the email, the storied maison underscores its fragrance offerings by explaining that its modern creations are “infused” with Guerlain’s traditions. Heritage brands often look closely at signature product lines to maintain relevance in the current market while honoring past accomplishments and skills (see story).
Although the brand produces cosmetics, in addition to its well-known fragrance ranges, the importance of its perfumes is often a central focus.
For example, Guerlain commemorated the 160th anniversary of its Bee fragrance bottle with an exhibit featuring nine art pieces inspired by the bottle housed in its boutique on the Champs-Élysées.
Guerlain allowed its fans around the world the opportunity to experience the exhibit, titled “Nect’Art,” digitally by posting features on each of the artists to its Facebook page. By hosting this event, Guerlain is able to showcase its heritage and the company today, and grow its audience (see story).
The bottles on display at Guerlain's Exceptional Pieces event in New York will work to continue and pay honor the maison's hertiage.
"These exceptional pieces bring the story behind the Guerlain fragrance to life with their uniqueness," Ms. Line Patry said.
"The bottles are a work of art that bring back the love story and time period that each fragrance was inspired by and created for," she said.
Jen King, lead reporter on Luxury Daily, New York