Nadine Kanso is sitting in the library room of La Réserve hotel in Paris. Over a cappuccino and a breakfast vegetable omelet, she swipes through her phone to showcase her latest creation. Between jewelry and art piece, her dazzling calligraphy design for the limited edition of 30 Guerlain Bee bottles appears like a Tower of Babel dedicated to luxury and human’s purest emotion. 1710 crystals decorate calligraphy that writes “Love”—an homage to and call for the emotion, so representative of the Middle East region. “Designing the exceptional piece for Guerlain and having my Arabic signature calligraphy on it is not just a pleasure—it proves to me that beauty and love have no boundaries,” she says. “This collaboration gave me hope. I appreciated the love and appreciation given to me,” she adds. However humble, it is of note that Kanso is the first Arab designer the LVMH-owned French high perfume and beauty house has approached for a design collaboration.
The crystals are set on 24Karat plated gold with each bottle calling for 12 hours of craftsmanship in the Guerlain ateliers. Inside the flacon, the fragrance Rêve d’Amour smells of mandarin and petit grain with white flowers at its heart. Its base notes are woody cedar, ambrette, and benzoin. Hailing from Beirut and based in Dubai, Kanso founded her jewelry company Bil Arabi in 2006 and continues to design jewelry drawing inspiration from the Arabic alphabet. Guerlain art director Ann Caroline Prazan notes that the maison reached out to Kanso for her unique work, “With this collaboration, our perfume is not simply sprayed on the skin,” she starts, adding that the bottle “penetrates its uniqueness and reinvents itself as a jewel.” The Guerlain Bee Bottle by Nadine Kanso will be revealed this month at Art Dubai. Notably, this year marks the 170th anniversary of the bee bottle. Along with Kanso’s design, exclusive flacons are reinterpreted with collaborations with Maison Matisse and Yves Klein. Art Dubai March 1-5