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Michael’s New Kors: Launches With Lauder

NEW YORK — Michael Kors, one of America’s most traveled designers, has come up with a fragrance concept that matches his wanderlust — Island Michael Kors. <BR><BR>It is the first scent to be launched since the Estée Lauder Cos....

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NEW YORK — Michael Kors, one of America’s most traveled designers, has come up with a fragrance concept that matches his wanderlust — Island Michael Kors.

It is the first scent to be launched since the Estée Lauder Cos. acquired the charismatic designer’s fragrance license from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in May 2003. The fragrance will be launched this spring.

“And I think I’ll do personal appearances only in places that are islands — like Capri and Hawaii,” Kors cracked during a recent interview at his Midtown headquarters. Noting that he grew up on an island — “Long Island, that is” — Kors professes to have an affinity for them. “I now live in Manhattan, vacation in Capri, the Caribbean — the connecting thread is an island theme,” he said. “An island can be a total escape, it can be glamorous, it can be suburban. There’s something about seeing a horizon that gives you a change of perspective.”

Kors’ first scent, the tuberose-infused Michael Kors, was first released by LVMH in September 2000, followed by a men’s version in September 2001. A second women’s fragrance, Kors Michael Kors, was released by LVMH in February 2003 and is no longer being produced. But Kors obviously believes the third time’s the charm.

“There’s room for more than one,” said Kors of his scent lineup. “The first fragrance was all about intense indulgence. This one’s all about casual living — you can wear it to the gym, or you can wear it to a black-tie event. It’s like your astrological sign. You have your sun sign and your rising sign. This scent is my rising sign.” (For the record, Kors is a Leo with Aquarius rising.)

The juice, developed by the Estée Lauder Cos.’ Karyn Khoury in cooperation with International Flavors and Fragrances, opens with notes of Kauai waterfalls, oxygenated water and Chinese kiwi; relaxes into a middle accord of hydroponic honeysuckle, parrot tulip, champaca flowers, ginger lily, shimmering Bulgarian rose and stephanotis, and dries down with white bark accord, Galapagos driftwood and rice fields.

The collection will include eaux de parfum in two sizes — 1.7 oz. and 3.4 oz. for $60 and $75, respectively — and a solid perfume pendant for $45.

Four ancillaries also will be marketed, including a $45 body lotion, a $40 shower gel and a $45 body oil spray. Kors’ personal favorite, however, is Ocean Bath Soak, a $55 bath salt that looks like beach sand but transforms water into a rich turquoise when it is added to the bath. And, as a bonus, it doesn’t stain tubs, “which my housekeeper is very happy to hear,” Kors said. And its color even coordinates with Kors’ latest apparel plans — its vivid turquoise is a shade he used in abundance in his spring collection.

The rectangular, heavy-glass fragrance bottle has a bottom resembling waves of turquoise glass, with a silver-tone plate with the Island moniker on the side. The outer box is of turquoise linen with a silver-tone plate denoting the scent name. “Packaging has to be more than just a container — it also has to be a beautiful object,” Kors said. “What I like about this packaging is that every way you look at it, it’s interesting.”

To that point, even the gifts-with-purchase are what Kors calls “pragmatic luxuries” — reusable linen luggage tags, a turquoise jewelry roll and a drawstring bag that doubles as a jewelry pouch.

Island Michael Kors launches in April in the U.S. and globally a few months later. It will be in selective distribution — about 350 doors — at its launch, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and select Sephora doors. Distribution will widen gradually, with a total of 1,200 U.S. doors expected by October 2005. The rollout is designed to inaugurate a new strategy that Fabrice Weber, president of Aramis and Designer Fragrances, and Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, the division’s senior vice president and general manager, have for the brand — which is to whittle its U.S. distribution from its current breadth, about 1,700 doors, to a maximum of 1,200.

National print advertising, which breaks in April fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, features actress Molly Sims on a Malibu beach — “which doesn’t fit the island theme, I admit, but it’s pretty,” Kors confessed.

While none of the executives would comment on projected sales or advertising spending, industry sources estimated that the scent could do $25 million at retail in the U.S. its first year — with an additional $25 million expected globally — and that about $6 million would be spent on U.S. advertising and promotion in the same time frame. Upward of 30 million scented impressions are expected to be made.

As for a men’s counterpart to the offering, stay tuned: “There’s definitely room for a man on the island,” said Weber with a laugh.

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