By  on June 27, 2007

The Designer is known for taking time to smell the roses, especially the red ones that bloom every spring in the gardens of his London home, but his fragrance business has only just started to blossom.

The designer launched his first fragrance, Valentino Red, in 1979, before inking a deal with Unilever in the Eighties. The long-term partnership saw the launch of four fragrances: Valentino, Very Valentino, Vendetta and Valentino Gold.

In 2003, the fashion house bought back its beauty license from Unilever and sold it to Procter & Gamble. Michele Norsa, then Valentino's chief executive officer, told WWD the company's beauty business was "much smaller than it should be." A turnaround plan was underlined for the division to drive sales, then languishing at 10 to 15 percent of the house's total volume, to 30 to 40 percent.

After acquiring the license, P&G launched the V fragrance in 2005. According to Markus Strobel, vice president of P&G Prestige Products, V was positioned as the fashion house's signature scent. P&G extended the brand in late 2005 with V Absolu, a more concentrated twist on the original. Men's fragrance V Pour Homme followed in 2006, backed by a sultry advertising campaign featuring actor Eric Balfour, shot by Steven Klein.

P&G added to the fragrance portfolio this year with Rock 'n Rose in order to tap a new market of younger women.

The Valentino fragrance business has grown sevenfold since 2003, said Strobel. "We are happy with the business. The last couple of years have signaled a lot of change and growth for the brand. We rejuvenated the portfolio with Rock 'n Rose to try to reach a new Valentino customer," said Strobel.

P&G will mark Valentino's 45th anniversary with a new fragrance, Rock 'n Rose Couture, to be unveiled during the festivities in Rome next month. On shelves in the fall, the scent is an eau de parfum variation of the original Rock 'n Rose — its flacon covered in a black Chantilly lace design.

Strobel said Rock 'n Rose Couture wouldn't be a one-shot commemorative fragrance, but a brand extension that will be expanded with another perfume, Rock 'n Rose Prêt à Porter, next year.Other plans for the Valentino beauty license include a new women's scent for next fall and a follow-up men's fragrance.

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