In the foreword to Glamour Icons: Perfume Bottle Design, Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Harold Koda discusses working with the author, Fifi-winning bottle designer Marc Rosen, on a perfume packaging exhibition (“Scents of Time”, for anyone lucky enough to have seen it in the mid-1980s). He credits Rosen with “a presentation that was at once scholarly and visually arresting.” That just about sums up Glamour Icons as well.
I didn’t know Rosen’s name before I read this book, but I’ve been a fan of his work since I can remember. Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door fragrance was a fixture on my childhood Christmas and birthday lists because of the little gold key charm that often graces the bottle. For grown-ups, of course, the design evokes the signature entryways to Arden salons. I took it as a reference to The Secret Garden, but that just goes to show how perfectly Rosen executed his message: “Here is your key to a private world meant just for you.” The Fifi judges must have agreed, since Red Door took home the award for best perfume bottle of the year in 1990. (My mother saw Vanilla Fields as a more appropriate message for a six-year-old; I never did get a bottle of Red Door…)