This week, Moët & Chandon and AMBUSH released a limited-edition bottle of Impérial Moët & Chandon. Yoon Ahn, the designer behind the Japanese luxury fashion brand, brought her youthful energy to the 278-year-old Champagne house, updating the iconic bottle a deep black neck and a new embossed white label. The collaboration will also support the environment and biodiversity: Moët & Chandon will donate a portion of profits from bottle sales to the World Land Trust, an international conservation charity that protects threatened natural habitats, in order to protect the Canandé Reserve in the Ecuadorian Chocó Forest.
Here, Ahn tells Sharp about the collaboration, her creative process, and bridging the past and present through design.
How did this collaboration come to be?
When Moët & Chandon approached me, I was thrilled to be the first artist to re-design the iconic bottle of Moët Impérial, 152 years after its first release in 1869, as well as the bottle of Nectar Impérial Rosé, subject of prior fashion-forward collaborations with impactful designers such as Virgil Abloh and Public School. It was a great challenge given these bottles’ recognizable and iconic codes, but I also saw it as a great opportunity to bring the essence of the AMBUSH aesthetics to these iconic champagnes.
When Moët & Chandon told me that a portion of the profits of this collaboration would be donated to a charitable cause, I was thrilled but at the same time surprised that the task of selecting the charitable cause was given to me. This is both a great responsibility and a strong statement of support for my choice and my integrity.
On my visit to Epernay, France, I saw the devotion of the people at Moët & Chandon to nature and to their precious terroir. This inspired me to select the World Land Trust – an international conservation charity that protects threatened natural habitats – to receive the support of the House, so that together we could help preserve other terroirs around the world.
More specifically, our collaboration will preserve the Canandé Reserve in the Ecuadorian Chocó, one of the world’s most threatened tropical forests and a place as biodiverse as the Amazon rainforest. The support from our collaboration will have a direct impact on stopping the deforestation of the Chocó, not just for the sake of its fragile species, but also to combat one of the causes of climate change.
We see you on multiple collaborations in the last few years. How do you choose your partners?
At AMBUSH, we have always embraced new visions. But we only accept collaborations where we can learn something new. This is indeed my first collaboration with a champagne House. Although champagne is a completely new world for me, I was curious to learn about Moët & Chandon and its champagne-making heritage.
What made this collaboration with a 278-year old French Maison so meaningful, was that it was based on a mutual respect and the desire to tell a compelling story. That is what makes any collaboration genuine. And on top of it, it supports a noble cause. It cannot be just about marketing because today’s consumers are savvy. We have tried to create a new synergy which is a great way to communicate shared values.
With this Moët & Chandon collaboration, we try to connect with consumers who are receptive to a new sensibility of the world of luxury, which rests on values of diversity, inclusivity, craftsmanship and sustainability.
What was the creative process like?
It all started with a trip to Epernay, a little village in the Champagne region, home of Moët & Chandon. It was an eye-opening visit. Walking through the vineyards, I felt a close connection with the nature and I was impressed by how this French House managed to preserve for almost 3 centuries a unique tradition of champagne-making and continues to pass on that know-how for the future. I’ve discovered the people’s devotion and their commitment to this art of champagne!
This experience deeply inspired me and when I went back to my studio to work on the design, I found that the most challenging part was keeping the tradition and the most iconic codes of the Moët Impérial and Nectar Impérial Rosé bottles. But I was given carte blanche by Moët & Chandon, and I believe I create a striking design that is sharp, uncluttered…and very contemporary.
As a brand with a youthful spirit and experimental energy, how did you marry that sensibility with a storied heritage brand like Moët & Chandon?
For me, this collaboration with Moët & Chandon was about bringing out the essence of this iconic champagne through my contemporary creative lens. Modernity, simplicity and stark contrasts guided my creative vision, and I injected the minimalist aesthetics of AMBUSH into the design of this capsule collection.
I also think that it was quite a “rule-breaking” move for such a prestigious French Maison to associate its name with a modern creative. Offering me such an incredible global platform was daring and pioneering of them, and it was my responsibility to express my philosophy in a genuine way.
What are your fondest memories of Moët & Chandon? Any parties or occasions that come to mind?
My first memory of sipping Moët & Chandon was with my friends, right after college. We had just gotten our first jobs and we felt like it was the right moment to pop champagne and celebrate.
What considerations went in to the package, label, and bottle design?
In my design, I wanted to conserve some of the truly iconic codes of the bottle, like the tie, but I also played with elements like color and label to make an impact. I drastically changed the color of the bottle neck from golden to black and I contrasted it with a new all-white embossed label, to produce an eye-catching design that suggests a blank slate, like a window onto a future’ filled with possibilities for those who dare step forward. It was a strong and impactful move because it allowed me to achieve the clean modernity of stark contrasts, which is at the heart of my designs for AMBUSH.
What is next for you in 2021 and beyond?
Keep growing as a creator, keep pursuing dreams, and I can’t wait to start travelling again to appreciate the beauty of Earth.