By  on May 13, 1994

NEW YORK -- Donna Karan will take a big step toward building a full-fledged beauty company when she launches her first treatment line in July.

Although few designers have dared stray from the fragrance category, which Karan entered in 1992, she said she is ready to take the chance because she recognizes the difference between scents and skin care.

"It was one thing to be a designer who does fragrance," Karan said. "It's another thing to be in the beauty business. There's a major difference between hooking a fragrance and hooking a product."

With that in mind, Karan said she took a serious, almost clinical, approach to treatment for the new line, Donna Karan New York Formula. She also noted she already has made a credible foray into the category with her bath and body products, launched last fall.

"I do believe we've already entered the treatment business," Karan said. "We weren't selling fragrance; we were selling product," she added, referring to the bath collection's treatment claims.

Rather than containing the juice of Donna Karan New York, the designer's fragrance, the bath products have their own lighter scent and are designed to moisturize the skin for 12 hours.

While a typical bath line comprises 15 to 20 percent of a fragrance's sales, Karan's bath and body products are doing almost 50 percent, according to Jane Terker, president of the Donna Karan Beauty Co.

Terker declined to discuss dollar figures, but industry sources estimated the fragrance's retail sales were almost $20 million in 1993 and are on track to hit $30 million this year.

The new skin care products should contribute an additional volume equal to 30 to 40 percent of the projected volume for the fragrance, Terker said. That plan would mean $9 million to $12 million in retail sales for Formula this year, according to sources.

Terker noted that Formula will be in far fewer doors than the fragrance. On a door-for-door basis, Terker said, Formula should account for 50 to 60 percent of sales. Ultimately, she added, skin care should surpass the fragrance business.

The beauty company will launch Formula in select doors of Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Dayton's, Hudson's & Marshall Field's and will roll it out to Dillard's in the fall.

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