In 1935, visionary fragrance pioneers Armand Petitjean and Guillaume d’Ornano opened a luxury boutique, selling a small selection of perfumes and beauty products, manufactured just outside of Paris. This French perfume company was called Lancôme, its name inspired by the ruins of the castle Le Château de Lancosme near the region of La Brenne in the heart of France. The roses surrounding the castle influenced Petitjean to create the brand’s symbol, the emblem of a single rose. While creating the brand, Petitjean was inspired by the French elegance that he simply wanted to deliver across the world. Lancôme launched their first five fragrances including Tendre Nuit, Bocages, Conquete, Kypre and Tropiques in time for the 1935 World’s Fair in Brussels, this display of scents helped to solidify their future success in the international perfume industry. From there, Lancôme rapidly grew in the fragrance sector and expanded into the makeup and skincare market before becoming an acquisition of L’Oreal in 1964.
In July of 1945, Lancôme created a portfolio of the company’s fragrances and packaging. This early trade catalog is the complete, first edition of 100 numbered deluxe copies. The copy is also inscribed by the owner of the company on the first flyleaf. Produced by the French printer Draeger Frères Presses in Montrouge, this rare catalog portrays the various perfume creations from Maison Lancôme throughout 88 pages which are held together by a transparent plastic spiral binding. The text is printed on luxurious paper with a watermarked allover floral design, while the cover is monogrammed with the brand’s iconic signature rose on a golden ground. Composed of 40 plates mounted with beautiful illustrations, 4 of which are produced in color, this exceptional catalog showcases the company’s different fragrances displayed in their bottles along with their unique packaging. Through text, each perfume is fully described including the fragrance’s flacon and its packaging, thus offering its reader a wealth of knowledge and beauty on every page.
Kara Nichols is a graduate student in the History of Design & Curatorial Studies master’s program offered jointly by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Parsons School of Design. She served as the curatorial capstone for the exhibition, Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color.