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2011/19/1 Powder compact, Coty 'Air Spun' Naturelle, cardboard / metal, package designed by Leon Bakst, made by Coty, Paris, France, 1935-1955. Click to enlarge.

Coty powder compact designed by Leon Bakst

Designed by Draeger, Georges in Paris, France

The founder, Francois Coty believed the aesthetics of the packaging to be as important as the product. After his successful artistic partnership with designer Rene Lalique in the early 20th century, Coty approached Leon Bakst to design the Air Spun powder box. Leon Bakst is celebrated for his colourful exotic costumes and decors created for the Ballet Russes, which prompted new fashions in dress and interior decoration. This colourful, exotic aesthetic can be seen in the design of the powder box...

Summary

Object No.

2011/19/1

Object Statement

Powder compact, Coty 'Air Spun' Naturelle, cardboard / metal, package designed by Leon Bakst, made by Coty, Paris, France, 1935-1955

Physical Description

Powder compact, Coty 'Air Spun' Naturelle, cardboard / metal, package designed by Leon Bakst 1914-1924, made by Coty, Paris, France, 1935-1955

Circular powder compact, Coty 'Air Spun' Naturelle powder, cardboard package with metal base rim with contents still intact, printed design features a number of gold powder puffs with black (presumably lacquered) handles each with white puff of powder, the powder puffs printed on a bright orange background flecked with gold.

Marks

On base, 'COTY / 'Air spun' / PROCEDE BREVETE / PARFUM / ORIGAN / NATURELLE/ No 7052 / POUDRE DE BEAUTE / Made in France'

Dimensions

Height

35 mm

Production

Made

Coty Inc Paris, France 1935-1955

Designed

Bakst, Leon Paris, France 1914-1924

Notes

The date of production for this particular powder compact is unknown but it probably dates from around 1935 - 1955, though the design is much earlier.
Package designed by Leon Bakst (1866-1924) for Coty, Paris, 1914-1924.
Manufactured from 1914 until the early years of the 21st century.

The founder, Francois Coty believed the aesthetics of the packaging to be as important as the product. After his successful artistic partnership with designer Rene Lalique, Coty approached Leon Bakst to design the Air Spun powder boxes. Bakst created for Coty a lavish powder box with powder puff design made in Moroccan leather with gold leaf embossing. These boxes were so expensive to manufacture that Coty paid his customers to return them when empty. They were then sent to Japan where the gold leaf would be scraped off and then reused. Bakst's design was later modified into a cheaper cardboard version by Coty's commercial artist Georges Draeger. The design of the packaging created an impression of luxury and prestige, while still being mass produced. These 'luxury' items were made even more accessible to middle and working class women by packaging them in small quantities and creating gift sets and coordinating product lines. Coty Air-Spun powder was very successful, selling in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia. It was so popular in Asia that the 'Rachel' colour was created specifically for Asian skin tones.

Alysha Buss, Curatorial volunteer, February 2011

Draft biography: Leon Bakst (b. Grodno, Belarus, 10 May 1866; d. Paris, 27 Dec 1924)
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator with Alsyha Buss, February 2011

Russian painter and stage designer. Born into a middle-class Jewish family, Bakst was educated in St Petersburg, attending a gymnasium and then the Academy of Arts at Yelizaveta Zvantseva's private art school in St Petersburg, where his pupils included Marc Chagall.
Bakst realised artistic success in the theatre. In 1909 he collaborated with Diaghilev in the founding of the Ballets Russes, where he acted as artistic director and his stage designs rapidly brought him international fame. His colourful exotic costumes and decors for Diaghilev's Scheherazade (Paris, 1910) caused a sensation wherever the ballet was performed and prompted new fashions in dress and interior decoration. His name became inseparable from that of the Ballets Russes.
Bakst settled in Paris in 1912, having been exiled from St Petersburg where, as a Jew, he was unable to obtain a residence permit. His costumes, though lavish, did not restrict dancers: in the manner of Isadora Duncan's tunics, they freed the torso.
Examples of his designs for Diagilev are in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
Bakst executed Plate No 73 of the Journal des Dames et des Modes in 1913 (Powerhouse Museum collection 2003/16/2)

References:
Borisovskaya, N., Lev Bakst, Moscow, 1979
Bowlt, J.E., The Silver Age: Russian Art of the Early 20th Century and the 'World of Art' Group, Newtonville, 1979
Hansen, R.C., Scenic and Costume Design for the Ballets Russes, Ann Arbor, 1985
Pruzhan, I.N., Bakst, Leningrad, 1975
Spencer, C., Leon Bakst, London, 1973
Toledano, Roulhac B. and Coty, Elizabeth Z., 'Francois Coty: Fragrance, Power, Money', Pelican Publishing Company Inc, Gretna, Louisiana, 2009
Turner, Jane, (Ed), The Dictionary of Art, 1996

History

Notes

Given to Australian graphic designer Don Fish, the donor, by the Managing Director, Coty Australia, when Fish was commissioned to create designs for a Coty relaunch in Australia (designs created but eventually not realised). The Coty designs are now part of State Library of NSW Don Fish collection.

The Coty's 'Air Spun' face powder trademark was registered in Paris, France in 1914 by Francois Coty. The compact container with black, gold and white powder puffs on an orange background designed by Leon Bakst, the Russian designer of stage sets and costumes for Diaghilev's Ballet Russe.

This compact design remained popular through to the 1940s and was revived or still available in the early years of the 21st century. Originally, the compact could also be purchased with a glass and metal container designed by Rene Lalique.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Don Fish, 2011

Acquisition Date

31 March 2011

Cite this Object

Harvard

Coty powder compact designed by Leon Bakst 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 February 2020, <https://ma.as/391901>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/391901 |title=Coty powder compact designed by Leon Bakst |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 February 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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