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Packaging & design

Serge Mansau, the artist

The world of perfumery is sad… Today, Serge Mansau is no longer with us. He was a real artist cum sculptor, before being a designer. Unique in his kind, so much by his character as well as his good looks. He has left us with 250 perfume bottles… of the most famous perfume houses.

Elegant with romantic looks, often with a cigar in one hand, and an a pencil in the other, Serge Mansau has never stopped creating, drawing to see his dreams and desires come true, under the shape of either perfume bottles, or sculptures. It was a real four-handed work with Estelle, his wife, who used to bring him back, all sorts of materials such as leaves, dried fruit peels and even soil… She never stopped protecting him, and would understand him, better than anybody !

Perfume bottles, emerging from passionate encounters

All along his 50 years of career, Serge Mansau never lost his desire of innovating and upsetting the world of perfumery. As a matter of fact, Anne-Caroline Prazan, International Marketing Director Perfume and Artistic director Maison Guerlain 68 told me “He knew how to challenge the a priori and the rules of the perfumery world.” First of all, he was inhabited with his passion for the shape and the emptiness of the flacon, but also had a great intuition. Yet, he wanted to work with passionate people, and to feel their confidence, was dear to his heart.

Portrait of Serge Mansau by Jean-Michel Gouarne Mansau

Portrait of Serge Mansau by Jean-Michel Gouarne Mansau

On the other hand, he also cared a lot, for intellectual sharings, with a great mutual respect, for his fans ! He established a real relationship with Jean-Louis Dumas, for the making of 24 Faubourg and L’Eau des Merveilles by Hermès. But also with Jacques Vignaud, a great friend over the years, with whom he will accomplish the perfume Un Homme and L’Insolent by Charles Jourdan.

Then, it will be with Kenzo Takada for Kenzo Ça Sent Beau, Kenzo pour Homme or as well Flower by Kenzo. They all understood the power, that he put into his perfume bottles. But also, with Pierre Broc, previous President of Kenzo Perfume most impressed by Serge’s miracles on Kenzo perfumes, Vivre and Quartz by Molyneux. At last, Anne-Caroline Prazan with Insolence and the drawing of the Petite Robe Noire from Guerlain.

Beyond the designer, the artist

In his ivory tower at Thiverval around Paris, Serge Mansau was really a sculptor of perfume bottles, imagining always a new world of glass.

His genious mind appeared, by being nourrished with his meetings, with Charles Dullin and Marcel Marceau, known as Mime Marceau, with whom he took a course. That is how he will start his career, as a stage designer at Charles Dullin. It’s fascinating, considering his passion for the theater world, that he will consider himself, as a theater director of the all elements, so to write a play, in which the leading role was given to the perfume bottle !

From there, his talent will take him to Helena Rubinstein, as an interior designer of her shops, and the creation of Skin Dew, his first perfume bottle. From then on, his career was launched. And, he will dress all Paris wiht bottle for the perfume industry !

In one word, Serge was definitely a free man, as Jacques Vignaud underlines. He was an imaginary transmitter with the Paradise, as the only limit !

Nicolas Goulier makes a special request today! ”And why not encapsulate the perfumes of the Celestial Kingdom ? All my respect.” We all hope !

Bettina Aykroyd

Portfolio

  • Serge Mansau's notebook (photo: Estelle Mansau)
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