Fresh Couture, the “notorious” Moschino’s latest fragrance, which launched last Christmas, was one of the most discussed fragrances of the year. The perfume bottle was identical to a mini window-cleaning spray, and resembled more a household item than a high-end beauty product.
The brand’s launch attracted a lot of criticism about this bold packaging design choice that at a first glance might seem weird, incomprehensive, even sexist and offensive. But above all, this discussion around the Moschino is underpinning the significance that controversial branding and structural packaging currently have in the luxury category.
What lies behind this controversial packaging?
In a closer look, there is an intriguing story unraveling behind this daring packaging design. Moschino is a high-end brand with a rebellious, witty and humorous personality, always a bit surreal and playful. Fresh Couture wasn’t the brand’s first attempt at irony, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Moschino’s autumn/winter 2014 collection featured models with McDonald’s and SpongeBob costumes, indicating not just the brand’s surreal character, but also a trend of changing conventions with the premium market.
In 2014 Channel set the tone with the Channel Shopping Center Catwalk in a supermarket setting, challenging the luxury norms and redefining what exclusivity and accessibility means for contemporary aspirational brands.
This brand expression reflected the need for change in the luxury market, towards accessibility, real values and inconspicuous consumption. Today’s consumer wants more from luxury brands than the cues of heritage and exclusivity of the past, pushing the world of luxury to redefine its established values. This pressure has caused a polarisation of luxury between exclusivity and accessibility to appeal to an increasingly heterogeneous market.
The dichotomy of high and low
Similarly, the fragrance’s concept is “taking the iconography of a bottle that has no aspirational value and using it as the inspiration for a vessel to contain something so luxurious and haute couture, creates the ultimate dichotomy of high and low”. In a sense the brand is rejecting the established notions and cues of luxury to elevate everyday objects through a lens of pop-culture icons rooting back to the time of Andy Warhol’s creative experimentation with Campbell’s soup and Coca Cola.
Luxury iconography is changing, as high-end brands like Moschino use comical combinations to reject the conspicuousness of exclusivity that luxury brands represent. In that way, the brand is questioning the real value and authenticity of high-end products and becomes more accessible, more honest with a design concept so literal and ironic that becomes a bold mocking statement of the contemporary luxury world and the brand itself.
Fresh Couture is not portrayed as a timeless, pretentious, luxurious fragrance, but more as a quirky and playful disposable item of high quality. True to the brand personality and essence, the branding of the product has probably achieved its goal. A peculiar concept with underlying meaning that attracts consumers to dig beyond the surface and get more familiar with the true meaning of the brand. Moschino is giving us a lesson on how to raise awareness with creativity and humour while on brand. By being true, brave and bold…
By Yana Drouga
What to know more?
Our next issue of Map looks at this era of change and evolution in the luxury market – something we’ve termed ‘Altered Aspirations’, as brands respond to an increasingly diverse and complicated set of consumer desires, particularly among Millennials.
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