Throughout its 250-year history, Hennessy’s cognac has followed a steep tradition and meticulous process to develop just the right taste. The only thing that has changed of late is the outside –when the cognac giant commissioned Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto to design this year’s Limited Edition Very Special bottle label, officially launched June 11.
Also known as Vhils, Farto is best known for his street art – a niche he has literally carved out for himself, taking mallet and chisel, razors and jackhammers, to faded advertisements, murals and billboards, chipping into the plaster and paint to form portraits. Across the globe, some 200 of his artworks can be found.
As the collaboration progressed, Vhils explains that he found similarities between his creative development and the craft of cognac production.
“For me, it’s about the time it takes for the layers of the city to accumulate on the walls; it’s about working with things that take time to shape, about processes you simply cannot speed up. The process of making cognac is very much the same, because it takes so long to age Eaux-de-vie, with so many people involved over the years in every step of the way,” he notes.
“There are a lot of things in Hennessy’s cognac making process that is similar to my process. Like the idea of waiting for time to do its work.”
The bottle design, he says, culled its inspiration from the decades and centuries of posters and billboards from Hennessy advertising.
“To create this, I had to look forward, while remaining conscious of this whole past, because I think that’s what really fascinated me at Hennessy. It was all these examples I’d seen of respect for heritage, for the process, for history really,” he explains.
“I just picked up on all these graphics elements that had a connection to the history of the brand, to create a kind of composition of all these elements from the past, linked with this face looking forward.”
Vhils brought together various artistic elements for the bottle design, incorporating ink, bleach, and acid on paper, speckled with black and dark yellows which he says is an homage to matured cognac.
Hennessy – Very Special is the world’s best-selling cognac, matured for many years in French oak casks. Part of the Paris-based luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, Hennessy controls half of the cognac production, with global sales of about $2 billion.