By  on January 18, 2002

NEW YORK -- Carolina Herrera has mixed art with fashion to come up with her latest women's fragrance, which she calls Chic.

Taking a page from a dusty 19th-century dictionary, Herrera says she uncovered an earlier meaning for the word "chic," which was then used in art circles to denote the act of creation purely from one's imagination. In the 20th century, it became a staple of the fashion vocabulary. Herrera now wants to return the word to its earlier, more artistic meaning.

"I adore that name," said Herrera, who added, "young people go around using that word. They take it to another level."

Chic, which will be launched March 3 at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, is packaged in an eye-catching bottle that was designed by Fabien Baron. Herrera said the design concept was inspired by the minimalist sculpture of Donald Judd and the "rectangular chromatics" of Mark Rothko. The bottle is a glass rectangle with the sides gleaming in primary colors. It's all about modern art," she said, "color and shape."

The juice inside, a floral, woody musk combination developed by Firmenich, also represents a passion of Herrera's -- white flowers. A key ingredient is Bulgarian rose, but with a twist. Kathy Cullin, general manager of beauty at Puig North America and president of Puig USA -- Herrera's beauty licensee -- said that the designer "wanted a modern translation of a classic flower."

The formula, created by perfumers Jacques Cavalier and Alberto Morillas working with consultant Ann Gotlieb, features a topnote containing Bulgarian rose petals and red freesia for clarity and transparency. The midrange has Mandarin and orange flower absolute. The woody musk base includes sandalwood, vanilla absolute and white musk.

Cullin noted that the vanilla and musk are meant to evoke a "softer feeling in the drydown."

The print advertising, photographed by Dominique Issermann, is as impressionistic as the bottle. Using the bottle as a colorful rectangular prism, the photo shows a seascape of the Camargue in Southern France with a solitary figure standing in the distance. That tiny shape cast against the blue sky is supermodel Bridget Hall. "It's not about a face," Herrera said. "It's about a dream, an emotion, a feeling." Issermann also shot a TV spot. The line consists of two sizes of eau de parfum: a 1.7-oz. bottle for $54 and a 2.7-oz. size, plus a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $42. More body products will follow in the fall.The fragrance introduction will be promoted during Fashion Week with a Valentine's Day party.

It then will get a preview exclusive at Saks, where it will have a shop on the third floor of the New York flagship. The full rollout will begin in April, with total distribution topping out at 1,000 doors by the end of the year, Cullin said. Even in that tight distribution, U.S. sales are expected to reach $20 million to $25 million retail for the first year and $75 million globally.

The national ad campaign will break in March, with industry sources estimating a promotional war chest of $7 million to $8 million.

In addition to national magazines with scented strips, for the first time Puig will do co-op TV advertising in at least six markets.

Distribution will also be rolled out overseas in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain, where Herrera has 10 boutiques, and Latin America.

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