By  on July 20, 2007

ROME — After lying low for nearly two decades, Fendi's fragrance division is set to unleash a new women's scent called Fendi Palazzo in the fall.

Fendi executives said they expect the scent to write a new chapter in the Rome-based fashion house's fragrance business. Fendi Palazzo is Fendi's first major fragrance launch in collaboration with the company's distribution partner, Christian Dior Perfumes and Cosmetics. It's also Fendi's first launch since the mid-Eighties.

Industry sources estimate Fendi Palazzo could generate as much as $50 million in global retail sales during its first year on counter.

Creation of the new scent involved the collective input of Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion house's women's wear designer for more than 40 years, and Silvia Venturini Fendi, head accessories and men's wear designer. It marked the first time the designers worked together on a Fendi fragrance project.

The designers celebrated the fragrance launch with a recent dinner and exhibition of photos from a Fendi Palazzo ad campaign that were shot by Lagerfeld at the Fendi Palazzo in the center of Rome. Venturini Fendi said during an interview prior to the festivities that she became immersed in the fragrance-making process very quickly. "It was fun; it was totally new, I liked the process because it involves thinking and psychology," she said.

"This fragrance is for a very particular type of woman, one who is really feminine but very strong — sophisticated, but particularly sure of herself," said Venturini Fendi. "I wanted that the woman who is wearing this fragrance would enter a room and everyone would ask, 'But what is that scent?'"

When asked if the Fendi Palazzo target audience bore any resemblance to her mother and aunts, who founded the company, Venturini Fendi said she was inspired "by memories of my mother and her friends, when they came over to the house and they took off their fur coats. Fur is the only garment that cannot be washed so their scent remained."

When he shot the advertising campaign for Fendi Palazzo in January, Lagerfeld was also inspired by a strong female for the scent, in this case embodied by model Raquel Zimmermann.

Lagerfeld explained during an interview that the ad campaign for Fendi Palazzo developed into an idea for a photo storybook, which the designer unveiled at the launch. Bearing the same name as the fragrance, the book Palazzo depicts a Roman princess in a love quandary with her American suitor and the brother of an ex-lover, played by models Brad Kroenig and Jake Davis, respectively."I invented for the ad what the Italians call a fumetto, a comic book but a very chic one," said Lagerfeld. "I liked the idea of describing the story, with a touch of Henry James. The story is of a very beautiful Roman princess — not at all red-carpet bimbo — who is very chic and modern but at the same time very elegant."

Penned by Lagerfeld's muse Amanda Harlech, Palazzo the book will be sold in selective independent bookstores, as well as Colette, starting in the fall.

The Fendi Palazzo fragrance will be distributed to a total of 1,500 doors in U.S., Canada and Europe beginning in September. Asia will get the fragrance in 2008.

Michael Burke, chief executive officer of Fendi, said the scent's distribution network would progressively grow along with the Fendi's fragrance portfolio, which is to include a men's scent for next year and another women's scent in 2009.

Burke added that all previous Fendi fragrances had been removed from the market, following the end of its beauty licensing agreement with YSL Beaute two years ago.

"We looked at fragrance in a strategic way," said Burke. "We let the old license lapse and let two years go by with no product on the marketplace, which allows us to come into the market with a fragrance like it was our first fragrance, but you have to have the luxury to do that."

Burke, who predicted Fendi's beauty business will account for 10 percent of the company's total turnover in five years, said he didn't dismiss diversifying into other beauty-related ventures. "It would be quite easy to do a beauty line. It would be quite easy to do a spa line — I can clearly see that in the future, but for now we need to build things solidly," said Burke, adding, "I'm sure this is going to be a great first step; we think the new fragrance is phenomenal."

Created by Patrick Demarchy, Dior's in-house perfumer, Fendi Palazzo is a flowery-woody scent, which opens with top notes of mandarin orange, bergamot, lemon and pink pepper; it has middle notes of orange blossom, jasmine and Bulgarian rose and base notes of patchouli and Gaiac wood.The Fendi Palazzo bottle, which was designed by Lagerfeld and Venturini Fendi, features the facade of the company's headquarters on Via del Leoncino here. The scent's tall, rectangular bottle is embossed with the gold facade at the back of the bottle. Its oval-shaped, plastic and metal cap features a pair of interlocking Fs.

Terry Darland, general manager for Christian Dior Perfumes North America, said she expected the fragrance to be received well in the U.S. Darland added Fendi Palazzo would be distributed to a total of 230 doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom.

Fendi Palazzo will be available in two eau de parfum sizes, 50 ml. for $65 and 90 ml. for $85. A bath and body line that will accompany the scent includes a shimmering body cream, 6.8 oz. for $42.50; a voluptuous body cream, 6.8 oz. for $65, and a shower gel, 6.8 oz. for $40.

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