By  on August 24, 2007

The fragrance world is borrowing a page from fashion's book — and positioning limited edition scents as the "It" bag equivalent in beauty.

Over the past several years, fragrance brands — especially those created with fashion designers — have been building, or reinforcing, brand equity by adding flanker fragrances to established franchises. Now, several are taking that one step further by creating limited edition flankers — ushering in a "must-buy-now" sentiment, or so the companies hope.

"You're always going to have your classic handbag and your classic pump, but you also want the fun sandal you can wear for the season — that you know isn't going to be a long-term investment," said Michael Kors, whose limited edition Island Capri launches this fall. "So instead of the black pump, [the limited edition scent is] the orange crocodile pump. And also, there's something that makes you feel special if it's limited. By the time it really catches on, you may not be able to get it any more — which is definitely a motivator to go pick it up now."

James Gager, senior vice president and creative director for MAC Cosmetics Worldwide, which, like Kors, is also part of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., agrees: "There's a certain mystique in what you can't have — it makes you want it more. With the advent of so much stuff out there and a lot of disposable income, people want something that is special. When you have a limited edition and you know it's going to be hard to get, that makes it coveted — and it starts going for big prices on eBay."

Adds Jennifer Balbier, senior vice president of global product development, MAC Cosmetics, "I actually think our customer prefers it if she has to work a little for it. She knows she's not going to smell like everyone else."

That's the theory that Gager and Balbier are following with MAC's new fragrance, Air of Style, due out at the end of November. Developed as part of the brand's Stylistics Collection for holiday, it's at the higher end of MAC's price points — $60 for 1 oz. — and just 3,000 units of the fragrance will be produced.

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