Collateral material such as packaging and labels have an interesting place in the area of branding and corporate identity (both terms make me blush). One of my favourite label / packaging designs is that of Serge Lutens, namely the older version shown on the left.
It is simple, articulate and stylish. The simplicity is in remarkable contrast to the design of their home, les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido, which is an iconic boutique rarely seen in this age of same, bland shop designs used by so many retailers. It stands out even more for the fact that a conservative family business like Shiseido took a chance with Lutens by letting him have the sort of creative freedom that he has. I do not know the identity of Lutens’s sponsor inside Shiseido, but whoever that sponsor is, I am pleased that s/he took that risk.
The new label design puts Lutens’s name above the product name and in a larger font relative to the font used for the product name. All the font styles were replaced. The columns of the Palais Royal, a reference to their home, are replaced by a device incorporating his initials, which, for some strange reason, reminds me of those big stone heads on Easter Island. The colour of the paper is lighter, much closer to stark white.
I am not bothered about the changes in details as the composition retains more or less the same feel. (However, it could be argued that the new edition looks somewhat more generic and has less ‘character’, whatever that is.) Except the change in border design.
The new borders, in combination with the lighter background, make the label appear like a funeral announcement. The impression that the packaging (box) gives is even stronger in three dimensional form. I certainly do not wish to explore the semiotics of that element; I am confident that there is nothing to explore on that front.