This Is What It's Like to Create a $15,000 Perfume Bottle
In the realm of great conversation starters, "I'm one of the world's premiere feather artists" probably ranks pretty highly. But that's just reality for Janaïna Milheiro, who already lists high-fashion collaborations with Valentino, Chanel, and Cartier on her résumé. And at the end of last year, the Brazilian native made a grand entrance into the world of luxury beauty when Guerlain tapped her to craft what are possibly the most opulent fragrance bottles the world has ever seen.
Each vial in Guerlain's limited-edition Four Seasons collection features about 100 feathers and takes Milheiro 15 hours to make. "It was actually my first time designing fragrance bottles," she tells us. "It was very challenging at first to create a concise yet beautiful feather design that would not hide the bottle but accentuate the stunning Baccarat crystal bottle that is signature of Guerlain."
Thierry Wasser was the nose behind the collection, and true to its name, he worked to interpret a fragrance for each season as Milheiro crafted a design that spoke to each scent. L'Hiver (winter) is a woody green musk; Milheiro used soft tufts of feather to imitate fur in a snowflake pattern. Le Printemps (spring) naturally features green and floral notes, so Milheiro's design was appropriately bright and exuberant. The gilded bottle for L'Eté (summer) speaks to the sunny, peachy scent. And for L'Automne, a fresh, woody cocktail, Milheiro's design is a beautiful abstraction of falling leaves.
The artist's signature technique is unique and remarkably intricate: In a style she calls "feather beading," Milheiro sketches geometric patterns before carefully weaving and embroidering feathers to create a kind of "mesh" in that design.
Naturally, Milheiro's intricate art doesn't come cheap: Each limited-edition bottle costs $15,000 (USD), and only a handful of each season's scent were made. Want to see them in person? You can find the remaining vials at select Guerlain boutiques across the globe.
Shop Guerlain here.