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LETTER FROM PARIS

Marc Atlan for Comme des Garçons

WHEN COMME DES Garçons’ head Rei Kawakubo decided to launch her first perfume in 1994, she bypassed ad agencies and hired a completely unknown Parisian graphic designer, Marc Atlan. His work—abstract, iconoclastic, minimal—perfectly complements the label that has come to signify the conceptual end of couture. Under Kawakubo’s direction, Atlan has engineered a thoroughly hypermodern product design. Comme des Garçons’ first perfume—generically named “Eau de parfum”—featured industrial packaging (it was sold in partially filled, nondescript plastic bags) bearing only the brand name, a bar code, and a recycling symbol prominently displayed on the front. For the ’95–’96 ad campaign, Atlan chose a green kitchen sponge and detergent bubbles. As Kawakubo explains, the image represents “the clash between a traditional luxury item with an ordinary everyday object to create an unexpected contrast.”

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