Ever since it was founded in 1828, the love of perfume and the love of art have been one and the same for Guerlain. Today, as ever, the House proudly hosts new artists and craftspeople with exceptional skills, giving them a blank canvas to enchant its fragrances.
In 2022, Inkman, a young Tunisian calligraphy artist, was invited by Guerlain to create the adornment of its iconic Bee Bottle. Inspired by Le Songe de la Reine, an exclusive fragrance offered in the one-litre flacon, this jeweler’s son has imagined an adornment that is both poetic and spectacular, between sculpture and calligraphy.
Voluptuous shapes, graceful curves, soaring lines. In a bold artwork that weaves stylized Arabic characters with Guerlain’s “G”, Inkman has turned the emotion of the scent into a visual poem. To craft this exceptional piece, made to measure for each bottle, the House has called on the legendary Parisian jeweler Goossens, a symbol of French savoir-faire.
Tunisian calligraphy artist born in 1990, Inkman studied graphic design at the École Supérieure des Sciences et Des Technologies Du Design in Tunis. It was there that he discovered typographical design and started exploring the artistic expressions it could inspire. A practice he developed alongside poetry, which he has been composing since childhood.
It was on the walls of his city that Inkman created his first “calligraffiti”. A match between the urban energy of street art and one of the most refined aesthetic traditions of Arabic culture: calligraphy, which turns writing into abstract art whose geometry verges on the sublime.
With these open-air creations accessible to all, the young artist magnifies the architectural beauty of buildings he
paints on, the rich history their walls hold, and the many civilizations that have shaped, over the centuries, the streets he adorns with his art.
Shifting from walls to canvas, Inkman creates paintings whose voluptuous lines interweave arabesques with Latin characters. On them, poems composed by the artist in English or French, bearing messages of tolerance, can be read in the form of Arabic calligraphy.
Mediterranean at heart, anchored in his cultural roots, the artist has forged a formal vocabulary that crosses the barriers of cultures and language. From Tunis to Dubai by way of London or Doha, Inkman’s language is as universal and as emotional as perfume.
Today, Inkman works in three dimensions: after murals and paintings, he gives body to his work through sculpture. The artist draws his inspiration from the sense of touch which transports the soul, the human feelings he perceives in people’s eyes, or his interaction with his environment.
The practice of sculpture has allowed Inkman to revisit his roots. The son of a jeweler, he reinvents his artistic approach in the family workshops where he imagines, designs and crafts jewels as an ode to beauty. A sensibility that enabled him to embrace the world of Guerlain, a House that is especially dear to him, since his wife wears one of its fragrances.
Sensuous and abstract, avant-garde and timeless, poetic and bold. For Guerlain, Inkman has created an artwork whose beauty is undeniable. Dazzling. Absolute. A jewel that wraps around the body of the mythical Bee Bottle produced by Pochet du Courval, the historical glassmaker of the House since 1853. And more than a jewel, a meeting between two of the creative worlds that are most emblematic of the East: calligraphy and perfume.
To create his artwork, Inkman steeped himself in the scent of Le Songe de la Reine. His gleaming calligraphic jewel reflects the voluptuous forms, graceful curves, and vibrant character of the fragrance composed by Thierry Wasser, Guerlain Master Perfumer.
Like scented volutes, the elegant lines that embrace the Bee Bottle trace sinuous designs drawn from Arabic writing. Reinvented in golden arabesques, Guerlain’s “G” shimmers like a mirage. The eye loses itself endlessly in the abstract lines of this magnificent composition, whose splendor is as tactile as it is visual.
A genuine visual poem that celebrates the harmony of scent and beauty, of content and container. Here, two arts echo and magnify one another: the sculptor’s and the perfumer’s.
“I looked on the Bee Bottle as the
body of a woman
that I wanted to dress with a
unique piece of art.”
An exclusive fragrance accompanies this exceptional creation: Le Songe de la Reine. The Queen’s Dream. An olfactory journey to the Mediterranean lands where the cultures of the East and West met and mingled over the centuries.
The solar radiance of gold. The fruits of the Mediterranean sun illuminate the top notes of the fragrance, like a vertical, soaring beam of light: sparkling mandarin, and Guerlain’s signature, glittering bergamot. The citrus fruit known as the “Green Gold” of Calabria, sourced from the House’s partner for three generations, unfolds zesty, herbaceous, and floral facets made more vibrant still by the freshness of pink pepper.
The sensual delight of fruit. In the heart of the fragrance, the Master Perfumer has traced the generous curves of a fig accord picked in a Mediterranean garden. The sinuous lines of its odorous leaf, underlined by a green, herbaceous note. The tender milky sweetness of its sap. The refined sensuality of the accord is magnified by the regal silhouette of a beautiful iris, a precious flower that is also one of the House’s scented signatures.
The streamlined elegance of woods. It is in the powdery trail of iris that Le Songe de la Reine reveals its Eastern roots with unctuous sandalwood — another of the House’s iconic ingredients. Native to India, it is now sourced in Australia. Produced from sustainable harvests since 2015, the essence of the legendary wood was selected by Thierry Wasser for an outstanding olfactory quality that meets Guerlain’s exacting standards.
In Le Songe de la Reine, the enveloping tendrils of this white sandalwood are underlined by a vetiver sfumato. Cedar-wood frames the curvaceous note with its straight, clean facets.
A sumptuous composition traced with bold strokes of noble materials, like a fragrant wind blowing from a Mediterranean garden to the lands of the Arabian Nights.
* This story by Tanja Beljanski first appeared in the October 2022 issue of L'Officiel Arabia.