Lauder, Missoni in Fragrance Venture

MILAN — After a year of speculation that a licensing deal was in the works, Estee Lauder and Missoni unveiled a new fragrance partnership in Milan last week.

Calling the pact the perfect marriage of two "great" family companies with similar ideals, William P. Lauder, president and chief executive officer of the Estee Lauder Cos., outlined the agreement — which calls for the launch of a Missoni women's fragrance in spring 2006 — during a gathering to announce the deal at Missoni's apartment overlooking Milan's public gardens.

"We believe Missoni and Estee Lauder share the core value of being family companies and [Missoni] shares the same family values we do," said Lauder. "This key image is very important to us."

Terms of the long-awaited deal were not divulged. Lauder stated it plans to create and market Missoni fragrances and related products through its Aramis and Designer Fragrances division.

Also present at the Milan meeting was Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, group president of Estee Lauder; Angela Missoni, creative director of Missoni, and her brother, Vittorio Missoni, who is marketing director and sales manager of the family-owned company.

The companies are no strangers to each other: Lauder collaborated with Missoni 20 years ago by doing makeup backstage at Missoni fashion shows in Milan. Lauder also did makeup for Missoni's subsequent fashion advertising campaigns.

Renown for its trademark zigzag prints and vibrant use of color, the Milan-based Missoni fashion brand is seen by some in the industry as the perfect launching pad for a color line, a possibility the companies haven't ruled out.

"We don't know at this stage [what other types of businesses the license will entail]," said Bousquet-Chavanne. "The Missoni name has great heritage and depth to it. It's a unique universe and the first step for it is a global fragrance. We do have plenty of ideas for the brand because it has so much energy and creativity."

Founded by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni as a knitwear producer in 1953, the fashion house made a foray into the fragrance business in the early Eighties. After three fragrances were produced and launched under license by Max Factor, Orlane bought out Max Factor and the scents and license were discontinued in 2000.

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