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Paris in your pocket
Seymour Chwast Collection Series 7. Bic Parfum slide, c. 1989.
September 14, 2014

Paris in your pocket

By: bethkleber

In 1988, Bic launched a fragrance line, hoping, somehow, to bring the convenience of their pens, lighters, and razors to the world of perfume. The French company touted their product as “the world’s first fine French perfume that combine[s] high quality with affordable pricing and a stylish, portable design.” Four fragrances were produced: “Jour” and “Nuit” for women, plus “Bic for Men” and “Bic Sport for Men.” The pocket-size bottles were designed to resemble Bic lighters and sold for $5 in the same drugstores and supermarkets where other Bic products were made available.

It was a classic case of overreach (despite the “Paris in your pocket” pitch of their advertising) and Bic Parfum tanked, because it turns out people don’t want to buy French perfume from the same people who make their disposable lighters and plastic pens. Production and distribution in most markets ceased in 1991, though apparently it is still produced and sold in Iran.

However, let us not find fault with the charming packaging for the US designed by Seymour Chwast. His typically bright and playful illustrations adorn several versions he developed for the brand.

A photo of 4 packages of tiny perfume bottles. All packages have a white background with 3 small illustrations surrounding the perfume. They all have an Eiffel tower, a hand and a drawing that corresponds to the perfume's targeted audience (i.e. a woman's hand for the woman's perfume, a man's hand for the men perfume, a golfer for the sport perfume, etc)

 
Seymour Chwast Collection Series 7. Bic Parfum slide, c. 1989.

A photo of 4 packages of tiny perfume bottles. All packages has a peach background with the perfume on the bottom right. Each package has small illustrations correspond to the perfume's purpose. For example the perfume for women during the day time, it has black illustration of women doing an activity and a stamp with the Eiffel tower during the day.

 
Seymour Chwast Collection Series 7. Bic Parfum slide, c. 1989.

A photo of 4 packages of tiny perfume bottles. All packages has a lavender background with the perfume on the bottom right. Each package has small illustration above the perfume in which it correspond to the perfume's purpose. For women day its a woman riding a vespa, for women night it's a can can dancer, for for men its a french painter, and for sport is a man riding a bike. The font is different too, its white and elongated.

 
Seymour Chwast Collection Series 7. Bic Parfum slide, c. 1989.

Chwast experimented with several different approaches; the examples below are more type-centric.

A photo of 4 packages of tiny perfume bottles. All packages has a white background with black outlines of a map with the perfume on the bottom right. Above the perfume is thin bold text reads the perfume's name, each package has a different color

 
Seymour Chwast Collection Series 7. Bic Parfum slide, c. 1989.

A photo of 3 packages of tiny perfume bottles. All packages has a different colored background with the perfume on the bottom right. Each package has small illustrations correspond to the perfume's purpose next to the perfume. The name of the perfume is on top in white and bolded. The A in "Parfume" is an Eiffel tower.

 
Seymour Chwast Collection Series 7. Bic Parfum slide, c. 1989.

This one gets closest to the glamor and exoticism generally favored by fragrance companies in the 80s.

A photo of 4 packages of tiny perfume bottles. All packages has a white background with the perfume on the bottom right. Each package has small photo correspond to the perfume's purpose. For women is a crowd of women, for night is a woman in a club, for men it's sailor, for sport it's a bike race.

 
Seymour Chwast Collection Series 7. Bic Parfum slide, c. 1989.

This post also appears on our Picturebox blog.