As the French saying goes “dogs do not make cats”, and so the origins of FORVIL were not so distinct from the company who had in the mean time embraced the 20th century. At Forvil’s origin lies a remarkable 19th century company named ‘les Dentifrices du Docteur Pierre’ (Toothpastes of Doctor Pierre). This toothpaste brand was renowned for the purity of its products, an elaborate and appealing communications style…as well as offering a solution to the current-day issue of making personal hygiene accessible to all. A company with a talent for identifying trends and reacting to them; that sums up what was to become FORVIL’s strength in the future….
The roaring twenties represented FORVIL’s finest hour.
After the horrors of the Great War, a gust of creativity, a cry for a break with convention, and modernism gleefully swept throughout Europe. Women became increasingly emancipated; skirts and hairdos were shortened, and many experimented with a new found freedom. Forvil was launched during the dawn of this new and exciting European golden age and became one of its most grandiose representatives.
Feeling his creative juices bubbling, Leo Fink, the new strong man of the ‘Doctor Pierre Toothpastes’ brand, created the Forvil brand on December 15th, 1923 from scratch. A new name was born in the new era of the Belle Époque. FORVIL hit the bull’s eye…success was instantaneous!
FORVIL’s creations were surprising and stood out. The ‘La Perle Noire’ perfume – inspired by Joséphine Baker’s nickname ‘The Black Pearl’ – was an absolute icon of its time and was a masterpiece of olfactory modernism, the whole encapsulated in a gorgeous bottle signed by Lalique.
After the very popular black (‘La Perle Noir’ perfume) came the equally popular red. The ‘Le Corail Rouge’ perfume took the fashion world by storm; this modern fragrance accompanied by its magnificent Lalique bottle really hit the mark. A far cry from the severity of the pre-war bourgeois society, FORVIL’s creations were daring and in perfect alignment with the new era characterised by a joy of living, refined luxury and architectural magnificence.
Already in the know about the seduction of perfume, Leo Fink anticipates the imminent trend and popular arrival of new beauty products and brand name cosmetics.
The same recipe for success is used for embarking on the new adventure of cosmetics: simple and pure products – such as their perfectly shaped rice powder – presented in magnificent Art Deco display cases. Here also, the influence of Japanese art was apparent. FORVIL simply soaked up all aspects of modernity.
Leo Fink expanded ‘the Factory’ in Nanterre, whilst preserving its Belle Époque character. The Forvil and Doctor Pierre product lines were manufactured in this factory by about 125 employees. This historical classified building still stands today, and is the enduring architectural symbol of the Forvil saga.
The war had a devastating impact on Forvil, its darkest hour being the tragic deportation of Leo Fink due to his Jewish origins. The Forvil factory in Nanterre, France, went into a state of hibernation and only resumed its activities at the end of the war thanks to Leo’s daughter, Lydia Fink. Lydia was the key shareholder of Forvil’s Perfumes and Toothpastes, known as ‘Parfums Forvil et Dentifrices du Docteur Pierre réunis’.
Forvil’s post-war revival was built on Leo Fink’s intuition that a promising future lay ahead for them in the hair care products sector. Veronica Lake, the American icon known as ‘Peek-a-boo Girl’, also played a prominent role in the brand’s renewed success; her luxurious hairstyle, envied by American as well as European women, was prominently evoked in Forvil’s new advertisements.