The spa for ladies who lunch goes for younger, more contemporary women with a new line of hair-care products. The brand-identity designers at Alexander Isley Inc. created the packaging to speak to that audience.

Elizabeth Arden asked Alexander Isley Inc. to design packaging for a new hair-care line named Portrait, aimed at 30-to 45-year-old women. Changing the name was Isley's first suggestion. "It conjured up images of dusting off an old gilt frame," says managing director Aline Hilford.

The designers wanted a name that emphasized how the products could be combined by customers to create the perfect match for their hair type. Eureka! Match was it. "A name must meet strategic criteria," Hilford says, "but it also has to sound good, be easy to pronounce, and look nice."

The products are formulated with water-based and natural elements. That drove the designers to gather botanical imagery, as well as herbs, grasses, and even tea bags to inspire the packaging. "We chose not to use representations of the literal ingredients, but rather take organic shapes and patterns--based on real shapes found in nature--and create spirited patterns from them," Hilford says.

"We believe nuance and spirit can be telegraphed through careful consideration of letterforms," says creative director Alexander Isley. To convey the values of simplicity, freshness, and modernity, the designers experimented with fonts that were clean and lightweight. Ironically, Isley chose a type family from the early 1900s called Venus (left), a sans serif font.

"We explored using different colors for different items, but decided to keep it consistent," Hilford says. Her team considered these Pantone chips "as inspiration," but then created its own proprietary metallic blues.

Although Alexander Isley has created custom bottles in the past, its client opted for an off-the-shelf design. Why? Budgetary concerns and timing issues.

The designers created a system that would let the patterns and bottle shapes interact with one another on the shelf, creating an impressive retail display and furthering the Match concept. "Each bottle or jar on its own has a pleasing look," Isley says. "But taken together--in the salon, department store, or your bathroom--one becomes aware that there's a well-considered system in place."

The clean, modern look of the final products--released late last year, but still being rolled out with its sister line for color-treated hair, Mix--helps Match stand out from other Elizabeth Arden brands. The soothing blue tones add a youthful touch. "It's not fussy," Hilford says. "It's minimal and confident."

The firm also created Match's merchandising materials, which all mimic the products' patterns, colors, and finishes. They include (from left) a folding brochure to explain how products can be best combined for individual needs and a Web site which echoes the brand's simple, direct motif.

Elizabeth Arden Spas Product Packaging

The spa for ladies who lunch goes for younger, more contemporary women with a new line of hair-care products. The brand-identity designers at Alexander Isley Inc. created the packaging to speak to that audience.

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