MONTE CARLO, Monaco — When executives from Karl Lagerfeld and Elizabeth Arden gathered here last week to unveil the designer’s new women’s fragrance, Sun Moon Stars, they laid out a long-term goal that is as clear as a summer night: They want to have the world’s best-selling fragrance.
“The number-one scent in the world right now is Tresor by Lancome,” said Joseph Spellman, executive vice president of product development and creative at the New York-based Arden. “It’s our ambition to see Sun Moon Stars become a more important fragrance than Tresor.”
Spellman gave no time frame or volume figures. But executives indicated that the goal is over $100 million.
The fragrance will be backed with $40 million in advertising and in-store promotion to fuel what will be the first worldwide launch for Arden and its Parfums International division, which developed the scent and will introduce it in September.
While executives declined to provide numbers, sources indicate that the immediate goal for this fall’s launch period is to generate more than $30 million in wholesale volume in the U.S. and an additional $20 million to $30 million overseas. “This is the first truly global launch we have ever attempted,” said Arden’s president and chief executive officer, Robert M. Phillips. “Essentially the product will be offered simultaneously in all our markets in the world.”
Sun Moon Stars will roll out internationally in over 50 markets.
Phillips made his remarks to about 80 beauty editors attending the scent’s unveiling in this Mediterranean city.
The scent, Lagerfeld’s first women’s fragrance since KL in 1982, comes in a distinctive orb-shaped blue bottle with moon and stars in relief and a sunburst top. The celestial symbols were hand drawn by Lagerfeld.
“It has a strange blue of a magical moonlight. This is a fragrance for modern life, an intergalactic scent,” the designer said. “As the bottle is in the shape of a globe, let’s hope this is a global perfume.”
Lagerfeld, who says he has been obsessed with scents since he was three, compared the fragrance to “forgotten childhood, the man on the moon.” But he added, “Sun Moon Stars smells of wet paper. I love the smell of good paper, which comes from wood. Not fax paper, of course.”
The scent was developed by Sophia Grojsman at International Flavors & Fragrances, and was described by executives as a floral with a sensual oriental base. It has “a crystal-clear top note,” said Clare Cain, vice president of marketing development for fragrances at Elizabeth Arden worldwide. “As it dries down, it becomes more sensual.”
The top note includes freesia and white cloud rose with a hint of pears. The middle contains heliotrope and nightblooming jasmine that provide follow-through, while sandalwood, musk and amber deliver femininity at the bottom, said the company.
The liquid was made blue to harmonize with the bottle. Pricing is on a par with Estee Lauder’s Beautiful and a little below Tresor, in the middle-to-upper range of the mid-priced tier, according to Arden executives. The four fragrance items range from a 1.7-oz. eau de toilette spray, which will retail for $37, to a 1-oz. perfume for $200. There also will be a 6.8-oz. body lotion for $28 and a 6.8-oz. bath and shower gel for $25. A spray deodorant will be added for Europe.
In Monaco, Lagerfeld hosted a dinner for 150 in the La Vigie mansion. In attendance were Princess Caroline, Prince Albert, Helmut Newton, Australian rocker Michael Hutchence and his model girlfriend, Helena Christensen.
At Lagerfeld’s insistence, Arden hired Peter Lindbergh to shoot the print ads, which feature Daryl Hannah. She also stars in a TV commercial produced by David Lynch.
The designer said he got the idea to use Hannah after seeing a Harper’s Bazaar cover of her photographed by Lindbergh. The resultant fragrance ad, which was shot in nearby Nice and was inspired by a photo Lagerfeld had taken himself, shows Hannah in a glamorous silvery gray robe, sitting on a beach under the stars.
Spellman emphasized the importance of Lagerfeld’s role in developing the fragrance.
“Just as Imelda Marcos loved shoes, Karl loves perfume,” he said. “It’s one of the things he knows an awful lot about.”
The only point of friction between the designer and his licensee was the amount of time it took to finish Sun Moon Stars.
“It was getting a little too long. They were spending so much time on Elizabeth Taylor,” Lagerfeld said, talking about Parfums International’s stable of fragrances that includes the blockbuster White Diamonds. “It was getting a little frustrating.”
Lagerfeld said he would have liked to have launched his scent over a year ago.
Parfums International is also planning a new Chloe fragrance for next year, “something with an innocent mood,” said Lagerfeld. And there’s a men’s scent in the pipeline, drawing on the idea of the sky, he added.
At New York headquarters, Bryan H. Janney, executive vice president and general manager of Parfums International, described the fragrance introduction as “a commercial launch” with a marketwide rollout to 1,700 to 1,800 department store doors in the U.S.
Cain added that among the foreign markets are France, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Italy, the U.K., Canada, Puerto Rico, the Middle East, Australia and the worldwide duty free business.
About 60 percent of the estimated $40 million advertising and promotion budget is earmarked for the U.S., according to executives, and the bulk of it has been slotted for TV and magazine advertising.
There will be two flights of network TV, the first starting the week of Sept. 19. The 30-second spots will invite viewers to go to the nearest department store for one of the five million vial samples that the company plans to ship. The second flight will be broadcast the week of Dec. 5.
The magazine ads will include 25 million scented insertions worldwide and feature some unusual touches. According to Paulette Dufault, vice president of advertising and creative services for Arden worldwide, a back cover gatefold will appear in the September edition of Harper’s Bazaar and in the October Vogue. The front cover of the December issue of Elle around the world will open like a pair of doors to reveal the fragrance ad.
Sources estimate that the company will spend about 15 percent more advertising this scent than it did on Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, the 1991 blockbuster.
In Europe, 60-second spots will be shown in French and German movie theaters and ads will appear on French bus shelters and on the sides of buses in Italy, Cain said.
As for the U.S., the launch will have a pre-sell warmup during July in 500 doors before the merchandise is shipped to the full distribution in August.
According to Michael J. Goldenberg, vice president of retail marketing for Parfums International, Saks Fifth Avenue will merchandise a special edition of 1,200 numbered and autographed 1-oz. perfume bottles during the launch period.
The September launch will be accompanied by two gift-with-purchase promotions — a suede tote bag and an umbrella decorated with a sun, moon and stars design.
More fuel will be added in October with the appearance of a limited edition item — a 1-oz. eau de toilette, priced at $28. Goldenberg said the company has produced over 100,000 units. In November and December, a set of two votive candles, shaped like the fragrance bottle, will be given away as a gwp bonus and three Christmas gift sets will arrive on counter.
Also in November, Lagerfeld said he is thinking of making an appearance in New York, after fashion week. He added that he might do a fashion show, possibly with a performance by magician David Copperfield, whose financÄe is Claudia Schiffer, whom Lagerfeld made a star of the Paris runways.