By  on April 27, 2007

Seeking to boost its credentials as an authority in the fashion world, Avon has joined with designer Christian Lacroix to create two fragrances, Christian Lacroix Rouge for women and Noir for men.

The new multiyear partnership is part of the company's strategy to strengthen its brand's competitiveness through designer and celebrity alliances, according to Geralyn Breig, senior vice president and brand president of Avon. Earlier this year, Cynthia Rowley became the first designer to team up with the company for a limited edition color cosmetics line, Cynthia Rowley for Avon Fall 2007 Color Collection.

"These partnerships have proven to be commercially successful," said Claudia Poccia, president of Avon U.S. Beauty and global president of Mark. "Christian is a proven style authority, and we wanted to bring his style and artistic spirit to our consumers. He raises the bar for us aesthetically, and we think his work will really resonate with our customers and sales representatives."

Despite the designer brand's licensing agreement for a prestige scent with Inter Parfums Inc., Christian Lacroix viewed the collaboration with Avon as an opportunity to tap into the mass market to build brand awareness.

"Our distribution strategy and business model is very different than theirs, but this is a great way to show off our design sensibilities and mix them with Avon's beauty expertise," said Nicolas Topiol, chief executive officer for Christian Lacroix, who noted that the partnership would give the company exposure in South America and the Far East.

Avon was attracted to Lacroix's sophisticated and vivid style and his commitment to women.

"Everything he does comes from a perspective of celebrating women," said Breig. "His creations are about women's fantasies and making their dreams come true."

Christian Lacroix Rouge for women will be launched in September, and the men's scent, Noir, will make its debut in February. Both scents were created by International Flavors & Fragrance perfumers. Laurent Le Guernec and Carlos Benaim created Rogue, and Pascal Gaurin and Yves Cassar produced Noir.

Described as a "floral chypre," Rouge features top notes of white pepper, orange and red peony; middle notes of osmanthus flower, Japanese plum blossom and Amazonian water lily, and bottom notes of cashmere woods, patchouli and musk."For the fragrance, we wanted something that had passion, elegance and sensuality, embodying the seductive elements of a woman," said Tracy Haffner, Avon's executive director of global marketing for fragrance.

Retailing for $32, Rouge will be launched in the U.K. in Septem­ber, followed by a full rollout to all markets, including the U.S., the following month. The gift-with-purchase will be a cosmetic bag designed by Lacroix. The fragrance's red and black packaging will reflect Lacroix's passion for bullfighting.

Noir, which retails for $28, is a "fresh, woody" blend with top notes of ginger and saffron; middle notes of cardamom and orris, and bottom notes of white cedarwood, driftwood, vetiver and musk.

Although executives wouldn't comment, industry sources estimated that first-year retail sales for both fragrances would be about $10 million.

According to Poccia, both launches will be supported by print and television ad campaigns in Europe and Latin America. Plans for U.S. advertising are not yet final. Fashion photographer Javier Vallhonrat photographed the print ads.

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