Issey Miyake are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their beloved fragrance, L’Eau d’Issey, and have partnered with Parisian artist Elisa Valenzuela – who created digital and physical graphic art pieces inspired by the different stylistic aspects of the fragrance.
In 1992, Miyake collaborated with renowned perfumer, Jacques Cavallier, to introduce the world to an overdose of cologne, a first for women’s fragrances. Its warm and sea-like scent became the go-to for many following its inception.
In celebration of this landmark, the brand has collaborated with Valenzuela, who aimed to express her own interpretation of the iconic fragrance. Below, the artist discusses how she merged her art with fragrance and her life-long adoration for Miyake’s work.
Could you introduce yourself and your work?
I am an artist and a director. I have been imagining and making animated films in concise formats for six years now. My goal is to bring craftsmanship back to the core of digital content creation by doing as much as possible by hand. So, I founded a studio called Convergences.
I imagine, draw and conceive stories that are ordered by brands, mainly in the luxury sector. These brands need to combine know-how, esthetics, poetry and technique in their communications. Bringing art and craftsmanship back into advertising, why not?
You mainly use collages and stop motion to create your works. What are you looking to transmit through these two methods?
What is important to me is the universality of a piece, that it is accessible to as many people as possible. I am interested in the feeling a viewer might have when watching a film or looking at an image. The simplicity of these two methods suggests that they could have done it themselves. I love to use this familiarity to give my audiences the power to take ownership of my work. Collage and stop motion are two very intuitive artistic practices. Making them more technical and sophisticated is not an easy task; that’s what I find fun about it.
Through these two art forms, I also have great freedom to create. In both collage and animated films, you don’t have to give explanations. Imagination has no limits. I can express emotions and ideas through these two practices, twist situations and play with thoughts. There’s just one constraint: the spectator must believe it.
What are your sources of inspiration?
My sources of inspiration are very diverse. I am constantly getting ideas from what is around me. It could be a four-colour pen, the Bao Bao bag by Issey Miyake, Einstein on the Beach by Bob Wilson, or an animation by Miyazaki.
I am also greatly inspired by much older works from outsider or fairground arts, optical arts, and automatons of all kinds — anything that could give me ideas for a special effect. It can also be an object from folklore or dreams, which is connected to childhood but made by an adult. The sources are infinite.
Could you tell us more about your creative process?
Above all, my art is spontaneous. Sometimes, it foregoes explanation. The images come to me. I imagine colours, shapes and scraps of stories all out of order. They then need to be given meaning and make these visions concrete.
What were your initial thoughts when Issey Miyake offered to work together with you?
As a creative person, there are topics that you secretly dream of working on and people that you want to work with because you sense shared interests and similar sensibilities. During a trip to Japan in 2008, I visited the 21_21 Museum, founded by Issey Miyake and the fashion shops of Tokyo. I dreamed of being a colleague. Fourteen years later, I was given a chance to suggest a film for the perfume house. I was very touched that they thought of me.
What was the initial intention of this co-creation?
As a French creator, I wanted to share my perception of the Issey Miyake house in my own way. The idea wasn’t just to talk about the L’Eau d’Issey fragrance but also to extract its spirit, creative power, precision, and elegance.
How do you perceive the creations that come out of Issey Miyake?
For me, all of Issey Miyake’s creations are a lesson. They are sincere, exact and relevant. Creation is a serious history that contains commitments. The values of humility and essentiality shine through the house’s various creations. The design is never left to chance and always takes precedence during conception.
How did you manage to merge your world with that of the fragrance?
I wanted to highlight the ever-present notion of contrast in Issey Miyake creations. So I fused the bottle’s pure and elegant design with hand-made elements. Industrial objects are confronted with human activity. In a black-and-white world, the color of the liquid and the brushed-glass bottle with its metal cap are emphasized. The architectural world that I created tells of the odyssey of a drop of perfume. The drop travels through a landscape with a variety of notes, an allegory of the fragrance.
What characteristics of the fragrance inspired you?
For me, the shape of the bottle was the first source of inspiration. It hasn’t changed in thirty years and is the perfect entry point to discuss sustainable, simple, and incisive action. The fragrance is timeless. The scent is fresh, light, and without artifice. That is L’Eau d’Issey.
What message did you want to share through your work on L’Eau d’Issey?
That creation or design is not a trend. That they are not made to disappear into the emptiness of social networks. On the contrary, it is there to raise us up, to give us value, and to last. As consumers or creators, we have to continue to believe this. Mr. Miyake and L’Eau d’Issey are proof of this.