The Luxe Pack Touch

Tactile treatments lend sense appeal to Monoco's high-end packaging show.

By Jamie Matusow, Editor

The rain poured down on the Grimaldi Forum, perched at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd. Almost 6,500 visitors (up 6% over 2007) traveled to Monaco to learn about the latest trends in luxury packaging; 46% of attendees were French and 54% were international.
Luxe Pack, which prides itself on being the world’s premier luxury packaging show for segments from fragrance to spirits, hosted more than 330 vetted suppliers at this fall’s event at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum, October 28-31; 30 new exhibitors participated this year, having been drawn from a growing waiting list. Also expanded this year was the event’s educational program, with more than 30 sessions and a full day devoted to sustainability issues.

While sustainability has been viewed as an industry trend for the last few years, Luxe Pack directeur Nathalie Grosdidier notes that today, “it is a fact of business.” She says that the show’s seminar program was developed as an additional source of inspiration, because “with the industry moving so fast, attendees need to understand the issues as well as find suppliers.”

Grosdidier says that this year’s show trends, as noted by Luxe Pack’s annual Trends Observer, include what is termed Renaissance, in which brands seem to be returning to their roots in an effort to express their identity; Double Agent, in which the packaging serves not only as an identification, but as an object in itself; and Grasp, which indicates a more handmade finish and look, and emphasizes the importance of a tactile effect.

The Right Touch

Surfaces and finishes indeed embellished many components displayed on the show floor, with treatments applied to everything from caps and jars, to ribbons, papers and boxes. Nowhere were the possibilities more evident than at the center of one of the airy halls where a small stand offered a large number of options in tactile finishes. In describing the many associations of touch, a representative at Le Toucher Miniscule, explained that while there are general adjectives used to describe surfaces, such as hard and soft, smooth and rough, there are many words in-between, and says her company is finding ways to express hundreds of them in packaging components. By adding textures and materials to the molds, the resulting sensations bring an element of surprise to the feel of plastic, glass and metal. Le Toucher Miniscule is also experimenting with finding new applications using cellulose, an eco-friendly material.

Ma Dame, the new fragrance from Jean-Paul Gaultier, features the brand’s signature shapely torso, this time encased in an elegant, rectangular glass cube.
The sense of touch is also awakened by the combination of various materials. At Bormioli Luigi, marketing director Corrado Lusetti, said, “There’s a trend toward the application of accessories, such as metal, ribbon and plastic.” This was evidenced in several of the bottles produced by the company, including Guerlain Homme and Max Mara. Ma Dame, Shiseido’s new launch from the Jean Paul Gaultier brand, presented a tease to the instinct to touch. Unlike previous Gaultier bottles, in which the fragrance is housed in a flacon in the form of a shapely torso, here, while the torso is also three-dimensional, it is encased in an elegant, rectangular glass cube. The rosy-orangey, gradated color effect was achieved through shaded spraying, while the corset covering the figure was created through a partial sandblasting.

An elusive feel was also evidenced at DuPont’s stand, where the company has eliminated glass in its new molding technology, based on the over-molding of polymer inserts and using its signature Surlyn for a glasslike effect. It broadens the design freedom of thick-walled cosmetic and fragrance containers by enabling the production of contrasting geometries for the internal and external walls, decoration techniques such as the encasing of labels and inserts, coloring of the polymer insert using masterbatch or the application of frosted or glossy effects on the exterior directly from the tool.

Decorating techniques had been taken to the max at Qualipac, which displayed the ultimate silver plastic cap it had achieved for Van Cleef & Arpels’ Feerie: a tiny nymph poised on the stamen of a delicate bloom. The smooth, cool, extruded aluminum body that Qualipac executed for Jay-Z’s fragrance 9IX required 23 operations to achieve; the rectangular flacon is stamped from the inside out, and capped with a stamped aluminum actuator. An injection-molded bottle is housed within. Vice president of sales Eric Vanin says all the processes were achieved in China, owing to “the level of work they’re now able to achieve there.” The technology behind the company’s cap for Coty’s Chloe took more than five years to master; it combines sterling silver, Surlyn and Zamac.

DuPont’s new over-molding technology, introduced at Luxe Pack, facilitates greater design freedom for rigid cosmetic packaging, while eliminating glass from its production for greater consumer safety.
Smooth, cool and shiny were also elements in design at HCT, but the trendsetting company, which produced more than 30 launches this year, also displayed some of its more organic designs. In an eco-friendly launch, rather than using biopolymers, a compact for Urban Decay is made of bamboo, and decorated with soy ink. A 100% PCR paper card insert holds various shadows. The bamboo is cut and drilled, so it even uses less energy to produce the components. But while the material comes closest to a handmade look, it is most suitable for small quantities; HCT is looking into creating a similar look for larger quantities, using PET. The company’s travel atomizer for Diptyque draws on the visually cool appeal of Bakelite for a retro touch, and the product’s magnetic lid adds an appealing snap to the closure.

Quite a Sight

A pair of bottles at Gerresheimer invited touch and evoked emotion through the use of simple lines. The company developed a fragrance duo, aptly called Celebration, for fashion label Esprit to mark its 40th anniversary. The lustrous, contoured, clear glass bottles resemble a cuboid; they vary in height according to their capacity and, as a couple, differ in their external appearance only in color. The lettering curls around the corner to extend over the soft curves across two complete sides; when the glass couple stands side by side, their common name flows together in the view from the front. Printed in mirror writing on the back of the bottle, and therefore visible through the juice, run the names of cities that have been particularly important to Esprit in the past 40 years.

Gerresheimer developed a fragrance duo, aptly called Celebration, for fashion label Esprit to mark its 40th anniversary.
Writing also played a key role in light and sound boxes used on gift sets at Cosfibel, where the company touted its “polysensorial solutions.” Not only do the battery-operated lights enhance the transparent windows that bring the product up close to the consumer, a thermoformed window makes the cartons easily stackable for quick restocking at point of sale. Silkscreen printing done with electroluminescent inks can be used to enhance the clear plastic windows with a neon effect.

At Curtis Packaging, which is known for its achievements in carbon neutrality, set boxes with crisp edges caught the eye of attendees looking for recyclable gift set boxes. The boxes can be made of 80% post consumer materials with printability inside and out and, due to the use of hot stamping and a paperboard insert, are completely recyclable.

Exquisite metallic techniques added heightened visibility to many a prestige fragrance bottle. At Heinz Glas, which started its metallizing operation two years ago, the John Galliano bottle was just one example of the company’s capabilities in this area.

While many companies use decorative effects to add visibility, MWV Calmar specializes in decreasing visibility—of some pumps, that is. The company caters to both masstige and prestige markets, and its “behind the scenes” technology extends from new airless pumps such as Pearl, which can be top-filled, and Luna, which is more like a tube and can be filled from the bottom; the complete engine is one piece instead of the usual four. The patented technology replaces metal components, allowing for all-plastic containers. The company’s new CLIKIT IP is a new generation, resin-injected click-on pump, modeled after MWV’s successful Melodie pump, which can be equipped with a NoC dip tube. It provides a high-end alternative to metal capsules and sheaths traditionally used on fragrance pumps. The pump can even be customized with decorative effects such as a small logo, soft touch, sparkle looks and fluorescent colors. Since it’s injection molded, lead time is decreased.

A Sense of Trends from Marc Rosen

A highlight of my visit to each edition of Luxe Pack centers on an exclusive tour of the show floor with internationally renowned packaging designer Marc Rosen.

First stop this time: Bormioli Rocco, where Rosen pointed out the company’s move from masstige to high end, with examples such as its striking new prestige flacon for Ange ou Demon, complete with dazzling Swarovski crystals. The company recently completed a major factory upgrade to meet the expectations of high-end clients. Even masstige, said Rosen, is moving to high-end packaging and quality glass decoration.

Jean-Paul Imbert recently joined Cosfibel as president of the U.S. subsidiary of the group. Prior to joining Cosfibel, he was president of Alcan Global Beauty’s business unit, fragrance and cosmetics.
At SGD, Rosen showed me the company’s new stock line of 100% recycled glass. With a slight tinge of green, the collection, called Gaia (named after the goddess of nature in Greek mythology), encompasses bottles and jars and can be decorated using a variety of techniques.

G.Pivaudran & Solev drew us in both with its extraordinary decorative techniques and the sweet aroma of chocolate wafting across the aisle. Chocolate was a theme and many of the containers were exhibited brimming with sweets or set in paper confectionary cups. Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million fragrance was on display, packaged in what appears to be a gold bar, while Solev’s specialty of metallized glass and laser engraving was used on designs such as Burberry’s The Beat and Guerlain’s Insolence. New technology utilizing metallization on selective graded areas was also on display—most notably in the exquisite John Galliano Numero 1. The bottle that Solev executed for Kenzo Power used special metallizing techniques to create a mirror finish. New Solev technology applied on glass bottles and jars caused colors to change as a black light was applied. Also on display was the vibrant new edition of Pucci’s Vivara that Solev had executed.

When I commented on the attractive bottle for Christina Aguilera’s new fragrance, Inspire, manufactured by Heinz Glas, I was surprised to learn that the designer was none other than Rosen. He explained how he had created the flacon in the spirit of the pop star’s image of ’50s retro femininity. “The bottle,” he said, “is like a voluptuous teardrop of glass topped with a flat round cap that is adorned with red borders that echo Aguilera’s signature red lipstick.”

The bottle that Solev executed for Kenzo Power used special
metallizing techniques to create a mirror finish.
In another nod to a retro look, Rosen showed me what appeared to be a heavy glass stopper on a Juicy Couture bottle on display at C+N Plastics. In reality, the stopper effect proved to be Surlyn, easily mistakable for glass, but much less expensive; it even caused a pleasant click when closed. C+N, which is headquartered in Long Island, NY, recently opened an additional plant in Poland for dual-continent production and distribution at reasonable costs.

At a time when both suppliers and consumers are paying closer attention to costs, Rexam has given a nod to adding a little luxury to anyone’s life. Whereas prestige glass houses such as Bormioli Luigi create faceted surfaces to lend a luxurious touch to flacons such as Givenchy’s Ange ou Demon and Van Cleef & Arpels’ Feerie, Rexam added facets to its Diamond line of stock cosmetic compacts, which are available in three sizes and a multitude of colors. A special sampling beauty bar featured Rexam’s many sampling and travel solutions, including a new mini pump for lotion sampling.

Glamour for All

On the note of glamour, it was time to head to Rosen’s Luxe Pack roundtable, entitled “Redefining the Glamour Aesthetic.” A distinguished panel, including Mary Manning, co-founder of Manning Associates, Felix Mayr-Harting, president Givaudan, Sue Phillips, founder Scenterprise, and Courtland Jenkins, global market development manager, Eastman Chemical, presented an intriguing look at the role of glamour in the beauty industry both past and present, and how it has evolved. While it remains a critical selling point, the panel concluded that it must be renewed as an aesthetic and redefined for a new generation. No longer just about old movies and romantic images, today’s notion of glamour can range from newly introduced fragrances such as Azzaro Couture, Kate Moss Velvet Hour and Magnifique to a customized scent used as a hotel trademark to a launch that adds a sense of humor, such as Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million fragrance.

While everyone’s interpretation of glamour took a slightly different spin, one thing all participants—and attendees—agreed upon: What could be more glamorous than spending a few inspiring days at Luxe Pack in Monaco?

The seventh annual edition of Luxe Pack New York will be held May 20-21, 2009 at the Altman Building and Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. More info: www.luxepack