BERLIN — Maurer + Wirtz's return to the premium fragrance market could be the cat's meow with the launch this month of Pussy Deluxe.

The German midmarket fragrance specialist tapped the sweetly irreverent underwear and fashion brand Pussy Deluxe as the vehicle for its reentry into selective distribution — a surprising choice, perhaps, for a house with a portfolio that includes brands like 4711, Tabac Original, Nonchalance and Betty Barclay. (Its selective brands, Azzaro and Montana, were sold in 1998.)

But beauty retailers and consumers are "looking for story-telling labels, not just designers," argued Thomas Seeger-Helbach, director of marketing and new business for Maurer + Wirtz, based in Stolberg, Germany. "The best licenses are already given," he acknowledged, "so we started looking for a young [brand] which has the potential to develop out of the niche."

They observed Pussy Deluxe for over three years at alternative fashion fairs like Bread & Butter. "And while a lot of labels come and ago, Pussy Deluxe wasn't only stable but expanded in European markets."

And its rather racy name is part of the fun. "I remember the first time our directors, who are in their 60s, heard the name. But it's the opposite of vulgarity," he continued. "It's about sex appeal with a wink. It's young, positive and what young, self-confident women like."

Maurer + Wirtz is "one of the few [companies] that still has a chief perfumer in-house," Seeger-Helbach pointed out, and the sweet floral was created by Maurer + Wirtz's nose, Gerrit Van Logchen, in cooperation with International Flavors & Fragrances. The scent has top notes of bergamot and acacia blooms, a heart of Madagascar jasmine, tiare, strawberry and iris, and bottom notes of patchouli, heliotrope, musk, gourmet praline and tonka beans.

Vintage in flair, the polkadot cherry-red spray bottle has a little black ribbon tied round the neck, and the pale pink, made-for-the-boudoir box features wide-eyed Pussy Deluxe kittens in a playful cherry, turquoise and black graphic. The typically tongue-in-cheek tag line reads, "inessential but desirable."

The five-unit fragrance range includes 30-ml. and 50-ml. eaux de parfum to retail at 27.50 euros, or $37.90 at current exchange, and 39.50 euros, or $54.40, respectively. The edps will be accompanied by a shower gel and a body lotion, both 200 ml. for 14.50 euros, or $19.98, as well as a deodorant spray.It will premiere in 2,200 to 2,500 selective perfumeries in Germany this month, plus Douglas' domestic and international perfumery network. Maurer + Wirtz also envisions the fragrance being sold in concept stores and other Pussy Deluxe fashion doors.

"We're interested in all paths. It builds credibility," Seeger-Helbach stated. He would not cite sales goals, but industry sources suggested Pussy Deluxe could generate up to 3 million euros, or $4.1 million, in its first year.

The fashion range, which is headed by designer Fokke Hoekman, is known for its kittenish graphics and naughty-but-nice pinup girls, like the devilish showgirl, her hair styled in two cute little horns, who stars in a print ad for the scents. An ad campaign is slated for magazines targeting both teenage Pussy Deluxe wannabes and the age 25 and older women who primarily buy the line.

Online activities are a must for this consumer, according to Seeger-Helbach, who said there would be a Pussy Deluxe Web lounge, virtual lip sync or "Princess for a Night" contests, in addition to nonvirtual marketing tools like free Pussy Deluxe postcards, possibly with micro-samples, to be distributed at trendy restaurants. — Melissa Drier

Symrise Adds Delville to Team

PARIS — Symrise has appointed Jean-Claude Delville vice president, senior fine fragrance perfumer, a newly created post.

Delville, who will work at Symrise's Fine Fragrance Studio in New York, has more than 30 years of industry experience, including posts at Creations Aromatiques, Quest, International Flavors & Fragrances and Firmenich. He is the nose behind Givenchy's Organza Indecent fragrance and the Can Can by Paris Hilton scent.

"We are thrilled to welcome Jean-Claude Delville to the Symrise team," said Achim Daub, global president of Scent & Care at Holzminden, Germany-based Symrise, in a statement. "He is the perfect complement to our successful fine fragrance team, and his presence at Symrise emphasizes the strategic role of fine fragrance within the Scent & Care division."

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