NEW YORK — After having defied conventional wisdom and resuscitated the moribund celebrity fragrance concept with hits by Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion, Coty Inc. is now intent on acquiring a wilder edge with a hip-hop slant.

A license has been signed with the woman whom many regard as the first lady of hip-hop: Kimora Lee Simmons.

Simmons, who is president and creative director of Baby Phat, says she has ambitions of developing a multicategory beauty range with Coty. Executives, however, seem focused on developing a fragrance business, which will be marketed by Coty’s Lancaster division in department stores. First up will be a Baby Phat women’s fragrance, followed by a men’s scent under the Phat Farm name, a company established by Simmons’ husband, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Phat Farm and Baby Phat were acquired by Kellwood earlier this year. While Coty did not break out numbers, industry sources estimated that the first Baby Phat scent could do as much as $25 million to $30 million at retail in its first year on counter.

The long-awaited signing of the licensing deal confirms a report that appeared in WWD on July 9. In an exclusive interview earlier this week, Simmons said, “I’ve always wanted to do beauty, and Coty is a perfect partner.” Taking a break from preparing for her runway show, to be held Saturday night, she added, “We carefully looked around the industry for our special home — like Cinderella and the glass slipper. I think this is going to be a great partnership.”

Eric Thoreux, president of Coty Beauty Americas, who helped broker the agreement, agreed, calling the deal “an important license from a Coty standpoint.”

“Hip-hop is one of the major highways of communication of the 21st century; it has become a mainstream voice,” said Thoreux. “We’re proud to have Kimora bring her expert vision to this lifestyle collection.” He added that Coty is behind the license “for the long-term. We don’t just do quick in-and-out fragrances — we build lifestyle pillars for the future, and we think this one will be a very important pillar for us going forward.” It will, at least at first, be marketed chiefly in North America, Thoreux said.

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