Born Joseph Marie Francois Spoturno, Francois Coty trained as a Perfumer in Grasse before founding his eponymous company in Paris in 1904. In stark contrast to Helena Rubinsteinâ€™s approach, Cotyâ€™s philosophy was â€œGive a woman the best product to be made, market it in the perfect flask, beautiful in its simplicity yet impeccable in its taste and ask a reasonable price for it.â€ In 1908 he opened a Paris shop and commissioned the jeweler Rene Lalique to design the bottles for his perfumes a completely novel move for the time. Although he continued to make bespoke fragrances for royalty and the aristocracy, his ultimate aim was to mass-produce exquisitely packaged, affordable luxury for all. They were hugely successful, and international expansion followed, with subsidiaries opening in New York and London. Coty launched its first cosmetic product, a face powder, in 1914 but it was the launch of Air-Spun powder in 1935 with package design by celebrated artist and theatre designer Leon Brakst (most famous for his work with the Ballets Russes) and a matching rouge two years later that really put it on the makeup map. Not only was the packaging the most recognizable and desirable in the market, but the process of â€œair spinning,â€ instead of mechanically grinding, promised finer, more uniform particles and a smoother finish very different to the majority of powders, which at that time were ofen slightly gritty in texture. Coty died in 1934 but his family continued to grow the company in the spirit it was created. In 1996, the company acquired Rimmel, introducing it into the United States in 1999, and most recently Bourjois in 2014. They are also the market leader in creating affordable celebrity fragrances.
Francois Coty understood the power of great design and commissioned the best artists, theatre designers, illustrators, and painters to create striking and covetable packaging.