Following on from the various special millennial releases of the 1992 and 1993 vintages, the release of the 1996 Dom Pérignon was the first to employ the talents of an established designer to create a unique and prestige offering.
Japanese artist Eriko Horiki, well known for her delicate creations in the traditional Japanese paper known as ‘washi’, was commissioned to produce the exclusive offering. Under the artistic direction of photographer Keiichi Tahara, Eriko surrounded each bottle in thousands of sheets of coloured paper creating a glorious paper rainbow effect.
Having been given the artistic brief of conveying the essence of the 1996 vintage and highlighting its inner radiance she undertook the delicate task of breaking down aspects of light in to a sublime range of colours, step by step, sheet by sheet. By evoking light in dazzling rays and in all of its variation she brought the paper medium to life, giving it body and luminosity.
Acting as a contrast between concentration and movement, the piece was titled “Irodori”, a literal translation of the Japanese for an ‘assortment of colours’. Housed inside a clear casing the bottle greeted the market mounted inside a virtual aura of light.
With further launches held in Barcelona, New York and Sydney, the Irodori set was unveiled in London in September 2004. Priced at £350, the limited edition run of 1,996 sets was an immediate sell out and remains an extremely rare and historic piece of Dom history.
At the same time the brand, and specifically its packaging and presence in the marketplace, was under review. Whilst variants of the familiar green packaging had been in place since the release of the 1990 vintage (which also saw Rosé releases finally switched in to a bespoke dark pink coffret) the release of the 1998 was something of a watershed moment.
The earlier half of 2004 had seen the brand partner up with the English graphic design company Neville Brody. With a view to taking the brand strategy and market positioning up a gear, the mandate was to seek out elegance, glamour and appeal whilst retaining the core luxury cues such as the shield label and bottle shape.
Founded in 1994 and now with offices in London, Paris and Berlin, Neville Brody were famous for their mould breaking re-designs of UK newspapers such as The Guardian and The Times, and their work with companies such as Old Navy, Chloe, and YSL.
A year-long review saw them move the packaging away from both the standard green colouring and chest style coffret in the most radical way possible. Their vision, beginning with the 1998 vintage release, was to upgrade the packaging to a dark black colour (and shocking pink for Rosé) with silver trim.
Including consultancy to produce a consistent style of brand language for both product inserts and material such as window displays, their radically different way to differentiate on the shelf contained unique dyes and paper that took over a year to develop. The 1999 vintage would see the old design literally turned on its head with a monolithic upright model with push button opening.
Owner/designer Neville Brody commented that the brand “market is ageing so we have used some subtle leveraging to move it into a modern space”. He added that “It has taken a year to get the finish of the packaging exactly right, with the right silver, weight and touch. Dom Pérignon is such a pared-down brand with very little story or myth that it is all about the exact detail. If you get the detail wrong then the whole thing doesn’t work”.
Designers Lionel Massias and Marion Lauren oversaw the bulk of the work at the design company’s Paris office, with art direction overseen by Neville Brody himself. The first outputs were seen in both the black coffret replacement of the standard green packaging, along with a revised box with a silver flare, inspired by current collaborator Karl Lagerfeld.
With the above variants the 1998 vintage was already one of the most diversely offered vintages and a gateway to the current yearly designer collaboration editions, but just around the corner there was a huge upgrade to the vintage and the brand.