Thursday evening, February 5, 2015, was the scene of an elegant vernissage for the Guerlain exhibit entitled, ‘La Petite Robe Noire Variations Autour D’Un Mythe’ (‘The Little Black Dress Variations on a Myth’).
Curated at the Guerlain flagship boutique (a wonder in itself), the exhibit showcases the history and spirit of ‘La Petite Robe Noire’ — the dress, of course, but also, the fragrance ‘La Petite Robe Noire’.
Ahhhh! Who doesn’t have a special place in her heart and her wardrobe for la petite robe noire, a concept first expressed in the late 1920s and re-envisioned by every great designer, since then. Simple and functional, the little black dress has become a timeless symbol of elegance and grace.
Ever an inspiration to women in search of the perfect dress, and to artists and designers piqued by her spirit, it was only a matter of time before ‘La Petite Robe Noire’ was to become a perfume. Created by Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser, ‘La Petite Robe Noire’, the fragrance, burst upon the scene in 2013 accompanied by a brilliant advertising and marketing program, literally ‘stole the show’ at all the fragrance awards ceremonies, and hasn’t looked back since.
Guerlain’s Chairman and CEO Laurent Boillot, was on hand at Thursday’s event to greet the numerous guests who flocked to the vernissage, at what is certainly one of the shrines of modern perfumery, the Guerlain building on the Champs-Elysées.
Speaking earlier about the 2013 renovations to the building, Mr. Boillot said, “Over and above an architectural transformation, we are going to make 68 Champs-Elysées a surprising setting that will showcase Guerlain’s creativity, know-how, and heritage. A unique and unexpected experience of our House, in its most intimate and most beautiful form; a space for creation, sharing and emotion with an influential profile in Paris and abroad.”
The current exhibit, which will be open to the public from Friday, February 6th to Wednesday, April 15th, 2015, is clearly a manifestation of Guerlain’s generous intentions.
Arranged on two floors of the Guerlain boutique, and integrated among sales displays of Guerlain fragrance, skincare, and makeup products, the exhibit showcases a flamboyant, monumental floral wall mural by Chinese photographer Liu Bolin, as a tribute to the Bulgarian rose – an ingredient particularly prized by Thierry Wasser, and which, in part, inspired his creation of ‘La Petite Robe Noire’ perfume.
Additionally, an exceptional selection of fashion photographs from the collection of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie graces the walls of an (otherwise) private sitting room, and includes works by such masters as, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Mario Giacomelli, William Klein, Jeanloup Sieff, David Seidner, Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, and Helmut Newton.
What many people don’t realize is that the Guerlain boutique is, in fact, much more than a shop. Housed in the historic Guerlain building constructed in 1913, and with its classified Art Deco façade, the boutique is no less than a living perfume museum centered around the history of The House of Guerlain, founded in 1828, and one of the oldest and most influential brands of perfume history.
Above and beyond the present exhibit, one could easily spend the better part of the day at the boutique, perusing the different departments located on two floors, smelling some of the most iconic fragrances in perfume history – ‘Jicky’, ‘Mouchoir de Monsieur’, ‘L’Heure Bleu’, ‘Shalimar’… stopping for tea or lunch in the restaurant, “Le 68″, and if indulgences are to be made, (why not?) enjoying the total relaxation of a spa treatment at the Institut Guerlain, or commissioning a be-spoke Guerlain fragrance all one’s own.
No matter what your tastes or preferences in perfume, I can’t imagine a single perfumista, whether classic or avant-garde, who would not revel in a visit to the Guerlain boutique. I visit it often, and recommend it to all my friends. Put it on your list for soon.