Health & Beauty

Field Notes: Diametric Duo

Posted: May 16, 2014 by
Linda Casey

As connected yet different as day and night, Elizabeth and James Nirvana White and Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black are two new fragrances by Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Kendo for Sephora and Batallure Beauty. The fragrances were created in tandem; with White carrying an alluring floral musk with notes of peony, musk, and lily of the valley, and Black being a sensual, woody scent with notes of violet, sandalwood and vanilla. The packaging reflects the similarities and differences between the pair with the same structural design—strong architectural lines offset by a feminine curve across the face and back of the bottles, rich gold accents and a distinctive texture. The opposing colors—white and black—showcase the product differences.

The packaging, designed by the Olsen sisters are stylistically inspired by a vintage keepsake, mirror the design elements seen throughout the Elizabeth and James brand and aim to celebrate individuality and intimacy, through tactile and visual features. Elizabeth and James is one of many lifestyle brands from the Olsen’s Dualstar Entertainment Group, which aims to be a distinctive boutique global brand management company renowned for developing lifestyle brands to fulfill market niches along the fashion spectrum.

Did the superstar designers deliver a touch of heaven? Our readers weigh in.

My first glance ran away from the gold but brought interest mostly from the touch-desire of the form and feel. Yet, the pseudo androgynous bobo [bourgeois and bohemian] styling of the E&J space seems to call for a more sensitive play on masculine/feminine duality.

I like the structural monolithic combined with sensual curve but rather than jump at black and white as opposites and overdoing the male/female dynamic, perhaps the fragrances could inform the physical textures with sensibilities more germane to the E&J domain.
John Silva, president and senior creative director of DuPuis

The design of the Nirvana fragrance, by Elizabeth and James, is all about contrasts. It balances contemporary simplicity with classic luxury. The timeless black, white and gold color palette evokes the quality of an experienced fragrance house, and yet the disco-era style maintains a sense of playfulness. All of these elements are represented in the bottle’s strong yet sculptural design and complementary materials, which drive consumers to want to pick it up.
Jacquie Denham, brand and design strategist at The Denham Group

Ashley and Mary-Kate obviously wanted to create something structurally different to support their Nirvana concept and the physical execution appears very good. The subtle front-and-back curve is interesting, however from a straight design standpoint, I would have liked to see this explored a little more or maybe supported with further sensuous elements. I wouldn’t say that these packages strictly mirror the Elizabeth and James brand to date; they are more of an evolution.
Steve Corsi, principal of Corsi+Co, professor of packaging development and design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

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