“One project turned into two, then three, then ultimately into a full-time design position,” recalls Dinapoli. “I was in this position for about two years and then moved within Lauder to a more senior position at MAC Cosmetics. After spending over three years there, I received a call from Catherine Walsh, who was now the senior vice president of Coty Prestige, and we discussed building an internal New York-based creative team, which at the time did not exist. That was the start of my career at Coty Prestige. Approximately eight years later I am now the senior creative director of the division, and we have built the portfolio and team to our current status.”
BP: What areas do you oversee?
JD: I oversee all areas of design. This includes packaging, advertising, merchandising, PR designs, in-store, promotions, etc. Essentially anything that requires design and/or concepting goes through my team and me. Currently I am in charge of the Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Kenneth Cole, Vera Wang and Marc Jacobs brands, as well as some new and exciting brands that still remain confidential…
BP: How much attention is given to packaging during a product launch at Coty? Is the packaging developed in conjunction with the product—or afterwards? How much flexibility do you have?
JD: In my experience, the package design is somewhat organic. What I mean is that it is not always cut and dry that the packaging drives the product or the product drives the packaging. We approach each project differently. With certain brands that tend to be more design driven, as in Marc Jacobs, we start with a design concept and work with Marc on flushing out all of those details, and the product itself will come out of that. SJP, on the other hand, is extremely involved in the product development and she knew exactly what she wanted her signature scent to be. We developed that first, and then I designed the bottle and carton around the feeling the scent evoked. Jennifer is somewhat in the middle. When we approach a new project with her, we go with the full mix… scents, bottle designs, ad direction. In this case, we present the full brand (with many options) and work the total concept together until we end up with the final product. Because I work on such an array of brands, I have to have total flexibility in the way I work as well as the way I collaborate with the designers and celebrities.
No matter which comes first, the product or the packaging, Coty and I put a tremendous amount of importance on the designs. I like to think that the first thing a consumer sees when shopping for fragrance is the bottle. We realize that this is the opportunity to ‘grab’ consumers to sample. We work very hard to come up with completely innovative and qualitative packaging that breaks the rules and continues to capture our audience.
BP: How do you typically approach a new packaging design?
JD: The typical rules don’t apply to the way I work on packaging. Since the designs I work on for Coty all have someone else’s name on them, my main goal is to come up with a package that both the celebrity/designer and I are proud to call our own. I will typically go into it with a clean slate. The best results come when we have a brainstorming session up front and discuss the mood, palette, shape, material, scent, etc. Any number of things can spark an idea or a whole design. With the launch of Lovely by SJP, Sarah Jessica mentioned that she liked the shape of an egg and colors of pale pink Easter eggs. So we dyed a dozen eggs in variations of pinks—this ended up being the basis for the bottle shape, and carton color. She also brought in a doorknob from her home office that she loved the shape of—I turned this into the cap. When things like this work and come together, it is a fantastic process.
BP: What was the most challenging packaging project you’ve worked on—and why?
JD: I’ve had my share of challenging projects mostly due to the fact that Coty and I push the innovation envelope and always try to come up with designs that have never been produced before. Harajuku Lovers was probably the most challenging of them all. This design broke all the “fragrance rules” and in my opinion, changed the face of fragrance packaging. The complexities of the dolls were endless. Not only were we developing five different bottles at the same time, but each model was originally handcrafted out of clay and hand decorated. The comping process turned out to be the ‘easy’ part. Once we had final design approval from Gwen, the technical development and engineering tasks began.
This process was long and rigorous and required many trips to China. The end result was fantastic and a huge success, but it was a very tedious process to get there. Most of the production was done by hand—handpainted faces, hand-applied decals, hand assembly, etc.
BP: How did the idea for Harajuku Lovers develop? What does it take to keep the packaging fresh—and collectible? What’s next for the Harajuku girls?
JD: The original idea for Harajuku Lovers came directly from Gwen. She created a whole world of HL that started with her backup dancers for her solo album. Love, Angel, Music, Baby are actually dancers that toured the world with Gwen and appeared in her videos, and HL was the name of her album. The brand then expanded to clothing, bags, stationery, jewelry and accessories. Fragrance was the natural next step. Gwen herself was extremely involved with the development, and collaboratively we came up with the idea of launching with five fragrances (appropriately named Love, Angel, Music, Baby and G for Gwen) and actually making the bottles to resemble the HL girls.
Keeping the packaging fresh and collectible is a very fun process. There is so much inspiration to draw from the world of HL that the hard part is sometimes picking the best new collection to go with. We would work on five to ten ideas for each set of flankers and gradually narrow them down to one. Each season there was an abundant amount of ideas that I got to play with. So far we have had the original collection, Snowbunnies, Sunshine Cuties, Tokyo Style, G of the Sea, and Super G. What’s next for the girls is currently in the works, but you’ll just have to wait and see where they go next!
BP: What are you working on now?
JD: Currently I am working on a variety of new launches. Unfortunately since we start development 18 months before the on-counter dates, most of the new projects I am working on are still confidential. The most recent launch we have had is Lovestruck for Vera Wang, which is just hitting stores now. Some brands that have launched this year include: Vera Wang Preppy Princess, Jennifer Lopez Love and Light, Jennifer Lopez LA Glow, Harajuku Lovers G of the Sea and Kenneth Cole Connected.
BP: Please tell me about the packaging for Lovestruck.
JD: The flowers are made out of a rigid matte plastic, and we used two types of ribbon around the neck: tulle and a transparent faux silk with dark edging. The logo is screened in fluorescent hot pink.
BP: If given your choice, who would you like to design a celebrity fragrance for?
JD: Well, I am not at liberty to say just yet, but I will say that it is happening.
Beauty Packaging asked Jon to elaborate on his methodology as well as a few of his past, present and future design projects.