When luxury French perfumes and cosmetics house Lancôme launched La Vie Est Belle Parfum 10 years ago, the message to the world was that life is beautiful. While the juice is a celebration in itself – the key ingredient of iris gourmand made history in the perfumery field at the time – it is the message that perhaps has put this fragrance on its iconic path.
Meeting that mega-watt smile
Just thinking of happiness conjures up images of smiles, and who has a more famous smile than actress Julia Roberts, who has been the face of the fragrance since its launch? I was privileged to be one of two South African beauty editors to attend the global launch at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, France 10 years ago – a spectacular affair with Ms Roberts the obvious star of the show. We were told in no uncertain terms not to try and approach or engage with her, but somehow I managed to shake her hand and be rewarded with that million-dollar smile.
It’s fitting that the anniversary comes now at a time when we are very ready to acknowledge that life is indeed beautiful, and one should always celebrate happiness. To mark 10 years, Lancôme undertook a large-scale study to understand how people perceive happiness. The conclusions of this study inspired the new chapter of La Vie Est Belle – the message of happiness being ‘just one step away; all you have to do is take it; life is what you make of it’.
Future forward fragrance
To mark the anniversary there is also a firm plan for La Vie Est Belle “tomorrow” – concrete steps for a happier future. The new, eco-designed glass bottle can now be refilled, and the weight has been reduced by 13 per cent without changing its iconic look. This translates to one million bottles, or 223 tonnes of glass, saved each year. A similar effort to reduce the environmental footprint of outer packaging will save 15 tonnes of cardboard per year. This is also the year in which Lancôme opens Domaine de la Rose in Grasse, the birthplace of perfumery, for future sustainable sourcing of its ingredients.
If you haven’t yet sampled the delectable juice, perhaps now is the time. It really is a smile in a bottle, an unexpected burst of radiance. For me, it’s the scent of a carefree and happy time, when I was brave enough to approach one of the most famous actresses in the world to say hi. Little did I know at the time that I was witnessing what was pretty much perfume history in the making.
“When you cross La Vie Est Belle on the street, you don’t need to ask yourself if it’s that scent or another: its identity is obvious,” says Dominique Ropion, IFF perfumer and creator (with Anne Flipo and Olivier Polge) of La Vie Est Belle. “I’m still struck by the singularity of its trail every time I come across it… This rare quality is the signature of perfumes with the potential to become classics.”