NEW YORK — Alexander McQueen is making room in his kingdom for his ideal woman.
Three years after launching his first women’s fragrance, Kingdom, the designer is about to launch his second women’s scent this fall, My Queen, as his new olfactive icon.
According to Christine Piccola, senior marketing director for classic and designer brands at the U.S. division of YSL Beaute, the new fragrance has a more feminine positioning, with more of a magical, enchanting fairy-tale aura than McQueen’s first scent, which was launched in March 2003.
“I worked with Nick Knight and discussed an image that is long-lasting, romantic, based on the works of Gainsborough and Whistler. It is an image that can last for a long time, a memorable image,” said McQueen, who spoke during the fragrance’s Paris unveiling , held at the British embassy there on June 21.
“She’s my queen,” he continued, adding that she’s “godlike.” “She gives herself to everything around her. She is empowered.”
Chantal Roos, chairman and chief executive officer of the parent YSL Beaute in Paris, said of the positioning of the fragrance, “It’s a fairy tale and the fairy tale has no end. The idea of the fragrance is to last for eternity and the advertising is the same — the ad is not just of this season.”
The fairy-tale aspect was carried through to the purple flacon, which was designed to suggest a bottle of magical potions. Roos noted that McQueen is a collector of precious glass and he suggested that the company hire a designer of Baccarat crystal. The resulting flask personifies the structure of the formula. It is a floral Oriental developed by Anne Flipo and Dominique Ropion of International Flavors & Fragrances — with an unusual formula. The structure of the scent has four facets, dubbed Marvelous, Dazzling, Mysterious and Intoxicating. Each facet, portrayed as individual layers of a woman’s personality, radiates from a common heart and shared base.
Marvelous is designed to open with the “innocent, warm and tender” feeling of childhood, Roos said, with notes of Parma violet and sweet almond. Dazzling is meant to be illuminating with orange blossom absolute fused with white musk and heliotrope in a powdery and luminous bouquet of white flowers. The formula then turns more feminine, sweet and intimate with the Mysterious facet, consisting of patchouli, cedar and vetiver. As the name implies, Intoxicating is meant to be charming and bewitching with Florentine iris and vanilla.
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The formula’s facets are signified by four corresponding indentations in the glass bottle. Also, the company has, for once, taken the additional step of echoing the mystery element in the positioning with the design of the outer box, covered in white pique fabric. A shadowy outline appears as if a ghost of the bottle is trying to break through the packaging.
The fragrance will come in two sizes of eau de parfum, a 1.6-oz. version for $58 and a 3.3-oz. version for $75, plus a 0.5-oz. perfume for $145 and 6.6-oz. body lotion for $35.
In the U.S., the fragrance will be launched Oct. 15 in the 95 doors of Nordstrom, which was described as “a service-oriented environment” by Maggie Ciafardini, ceo and managing director of the U.S. division of YSL Beaute. Noting that the fragrance will be on counter in September, she indicated that Nordstrom was chosen, in part, because the chain does well with designer brands and the Nordstrom customer is younger than those usually found in department stores. That is a key consideration because the consumer target for My Queen is younger than that of the earlier Kingdom. Piccola put the new target at 30.
The Nick Knight ad will be used for blow-ins in the Nordstrom catalogue and will go out as scented direct-mail pieces. Ciafardini also plans to use it on Nordstrom’s Web site. It also will be launched overseas in the fall, where distribution will be equally tight. Roos estimated the global distribution at only 3,000 to 4,000 doors, compared with 16,000 for YSL.
She compared the launch to “raising a small child. We have to start slowly, slowly and see how people respond to it,” Roos said.
The caution is justified by the fact that the McQueen beauty franchise is still unfolding. Roos indicated that she expects this fragrance to be more readily embraced than Kingdom, which has had a mixed record. The earlier scent had landed in the top 10 at Selfridges and still does a healthy turnover in the U.K. It also remains on the market in a number of European countries. But in the U.S., it is sold only in McQueen’s downtown boutique in New York.
She said that, while McQueen remains proud of Kingdom as a beautiful product, he nevertheless is continuing to gain a feel for fragrance, as a practical personal use item, after his first effort. Kingdom, she said, suffered from being perceived as a little bit “elitist.”
Roos declined to discuss numbers, but industry sources estimate that My Queen could do 10 million euros, or about $12 million at current exchange, globally, in the first four months this fall, with the U.S. contributing $2 million to $2.5 million at retail during the fall alone.