PARIS -- It took Claude Montana four years to create his latest women's fragrance, but he wound up with more than might have been expected.
The result, scheduled for a fall introduction in Europe and the Mideast, is called Suggestion, and instead of a single fragrance, it consists of three complementary scents. According to executives at Parfums Montana, the triple-threat approach is Montana's response to changing consumer habits.
Montana's last scent was Parfum d'Elle in 1990. His other fragrances are Parfum de Peau, a women's scent, and Parfum d'Homme, a men's.
The three new fragrances all have the same base of subdued floral essence, cassis flowers, living mimosa, sandalwood and violets.
But they differ substantially at the top. Eau d'Argent ("silver water") has a fresh tonality, which includes bergamot, lilies and blue jacinth, and it is designed for use during the day.
Eau d'Or ("gold water") has a more powdery tone and includes jasmine, ylang, peach and vanilla. Eau Cuivree ("copper water") has a spicy flavor made with pivoine, freesia, ginger and muscade.
The first two scents were developed by International Flavors & Fragrances, while Eau Cuivree was created by Firmenich.
"It's our response to the different way women live with perfume today," said Patrice Vizioz, director of international marketing of Parfums Montana, which is owned by Germany's Mèurer & Wirtz.
The strategy for Suggestion is based on market research that indicates women wear different scents to work, in the evening, on weekends and on holiday, Vizioz said.
Montana executives are aware that they are not the first to launch a trio of scents and those companies that previously tried it often experienced difficulty.
"There is a big difference, as Suggestion's three scents are all from the same olfactory family," Vizioz said. "They are three variations on the same theme. That way the same woman can wear them depending on the moment."
The scent also reflects the evolution in Montana's fashion from the structured, almost architectural quality of his clothes during the Eighties to a more fluid, supple mode."We also wanted to be more accessible and less elitist," noted Vizioz. "More ready-to-wear than haute couture."
For this reason, the scents are priced competitively. A single 50-ml. spray bottle will retail for $42 (235 francs) at current exchange rates, or about 20 percent below other designer fragrances, Vizioz said.
A triple package of 50-ml. scents will cost $100 (545 francs).
Each of the three fragrances has 50-ml. and 100-ml. sprays plus a 50-ml. splash.
"The mark of success for a fragrance today is at least 100 million francs [$18 million] a year internationally," said Gerard Delcour, president of Parfums Montana, noting that Peau does 140 million francs [$25 million] annually.
"Montana is a very contemporary designer," Delcour added. "He was the first createur who was not a coutourier to launch a scent."
Suggestion will hit store shelves in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Eastern Europe in September and roll out in Germany, Italy and Britain early next year.
The goal for distribution is to have about 5,500 doors by the end of 1995. Executives declined to disclose advertising budgets or sales projections, but it is understood from industry sources that at least $9 million (50 million francs) has been targeted for first-year sales in Europe and the Mideast.
Mèurer & Wirtz's long-standing partner, Tokyo-based Kanebo, will handle Suggestion's distribution in Asia.
At present, Montana's other fragrances are sold in the U.S. only at Henri Bendel in New York, where the designer also sells his clothes. Plans for a U.S. launch are incomplete. Parfums Montana is in talks with several potential U.S. agents for Suggestion, but at present no deal has been signed, according to executives.
Initially, most of the advertising will be print ads, shot by French photographer Peter Mandereau. The black and white photo shows a naked young woman, arms covering her breasts, gazing at the three scents, which are the only elements of color in the print.
The fragrance company has also developed sleek, somewhat surreal window displays, with tiny alcoves for the three fragrances.
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