By  on August 10, 2007

First, do no harm — that's the aim of Chanel's new Beauté Initiale, which is designed to prevent skin damage in young women before it occurs.

The line, which will launch in September, is Chanel's first skin care line directed at twenty- and thirtysomethings, said Elizabeth Mankin, senior vice president of Beauté marketing and education for Chanel in the U.S.

"Your 20s and 30s are when the first breakdowns in cellular function and signs of aging occur," said Mankin. "It's at that point that you see your very first lines. This is a multiprotective, comprehensive line that allows women to act today to preserve their skin for tomorrow."

The key ingredient in each of the five products that make up the Beauté Initiale line is Blue Ginger PFA, a polyfractioned version of blue ginger, an herb grown in Madagascar that is said to possess "extraordinary" antioxidant properties, said Mankin. "Blue Ginger PFA is 1,400 times more concentrated than the original extract, and considerably more powerful than ordinary ginger," she added. Other key ingredients include vitamins C and E and trace elements of magnesium, zinc and copper, intended to protect cell membranes, elastin and collagen against free radicals and reenergize tired skin by boosting cell function, Mankin added.

The blue ginger is processed at the brand's labs in Sophia Antipolis, France, using Chanel's polyfractioning technique. The proprietary technology is designed to allow Chanel to use extremely costly ingredients in mainstream products by using a 12-step technique to increase the amount of usable extract and to purify it. The company first used the technique last year with its Sublimage cream.

In addition to the blue ginger present in all of the products, additional antioxidants and skin protectors have been added where possible. Energizing Multi-Protection Concentrate, $85 for 1 oz., adds taurine, said to boost cellular energy; Energizing Multi-Protection Cream SPF 15 and Energizing Multi-Protection Fluid SPF 15, designed for dry and oily complexions, respectively, are each $75 for 1 oz. and are intended to be everyday moisturizers; Energizing Multi-Protection Eye Cream, $60 for 0.5 oz., includes yeast extract and sodium lactate, said to deal with puffiness and dark circles, and Energizing Multi-Protection Fluid Healthy Glow SPF 15 is a moisturizer with a built-in self-tanner and SPF, $75 for 1.7 oz.Beauté Initiale will be available in more than 800 department and specialty store doors. More than 200,000 in-store samples are planned, as are direct-mail pieces and in-store co-op events with national magazines including Lucky, Self and Glamour. No national advertising for Beauté Initiale is planned.

While Mankin declined to comment on projected sales or promotional spending, industry sources estimated that the new line would do about $10 million at retail in its first year on counter.

The brand's iconic fragrance, Chanel No.5, is also being given a new twist this fall. In October, Chanel will launch No.5 Eau Première, which the house is calling a fragrance "essence."

"Eau Première is modern, yet true to the spirit of No.5," said Laurie Palma, Chanel's U.S.-based senior vice president of fragrance and Internet marketing, adding that Chanel's master perfumer, Jacques Polge, developed the new version. "It is a great dare to take on a classic and rebalance it — essentially, No.5 has never been changed. This is a fresher, rounder, more delicate version intended to be used every day."

Eau Première tweaks the original's top notes just a bit, adding ylang-ylang from the Comoro Islands and jasmine sourced from Chanel-owned fields in Grasse, France, explained Palma. A 5-oz. bottle will retail for $125.

Eau Première will be available in about 2,400 department and specialty store doors in the U.S. A new national ad shot by Patrick Demarchelier, featuring Nicole Kidman, will break in November fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, including Vogue and Vanity Fair, added Palma. As well, an intensive sampling campaign intended to distribute at least five million scented pieces and 55 million direct-mail pieces is planned. Deluxe samples, intended to resemble a couture showing with the sample as star, have been designed for the brand's most high-end doors, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Chanel boutiques. About 6,000 of these samples will be produced.

Palma declined to discuss sales projections or advertising spending, although industry sources estimated that Eau Première would do $15 million to $20 million at retail in its first year on counter. About $3 million to $5 million is expected to be spent on advertising and promotion, said sources.

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