PARIS -- In an industry that hungers for the longevity of a Chanel No. 5 or a Shalimar, a new concept is emerging -- a one-shot scent meant to last only a season.
Escada snared the attention of European retailers last year with a novel fragrance approach -- a limited edition eau de toilette, called Chiffon Sorbet, which was shipped to stores, then discontinued.
Now the company is expanding on the concept and plans to roll it out to the U.S. as well. The second seasonal scent, called Summer in Provence, will make its European debut in 3,500 doors in April.
In the U.S., it will be launched the same month in about 800 doors.
"It's an in-and-out product. That's what's great about it for the retailers," said Claude Palatin, president of Escada Beaute SARL in Paris.
In New York, Betsy Olum, vice president of marketing and creative development at Escada Beaute Ltd., said, "We're trying to make a fragrance a fashion item. This give us an opportunity to do something modern, trendy and innovative."
Olum, who estimated that the scent will be on counters for only three or four months, said that if the spring scent sells, the company may do another for fall. A commitment has been made to do at least a spring-summer scent every year.
In a similar strategy, the U.S. division of Lancome will mark the 25th anniversary of the company's eau fraiche fragrance, O de Lancome, by reintroducing it in America between May and September. If the light citrusy scent, a strong seller in France, succeeds this summer, the company hopes to bring it back in the summer of 1995.
As for Escada's new Provence fragrance, 300,000 pieces will be manufactured for Europe, more than twice the number produced and sold last year, according to company executives. Another 150,000 pieces will be shipped to the North American market.
The new fragrance, called Un Ete en Provence in France, was inspired by a theme in the spring-summer Escada fashion collection. Palatin, who suggested the seasonal concept last year, emphasized that the close ties between the Escada fashion and fragrance businesses allowed Escada Beaute to capitalize on current trends."The scent is a novelty, and every year it can be fresh," he said, noting the bright packaging and fruity character of the fragrance. "That's very trendy now. By next year it may be something else, but we will be able to change with the trend."
In France, the Provence fragrance will be priced at $38 (225 francs) for a 50-ml. eau de toilette spray and $53 (313 francs) for a 100 ml.-spray.
Also in the line are a 30-ml. eau de toilette for selected markets and a shower gel for Germany, along with a body lotion, priced $27.50 for 100 ml., for the U.S.
Also in the U.S., Escada will market the 30-ml. eau de toilette spray, priced at $35, and the 50-ml. for $45.
Olum, who collaborated on the product with Palatin in Paris and Michael Stolzenberg, fashion director at Escada AG, in Munich, Germany, said the body lotion was devised for the American market, since some consumers don't like to wear fragrance in the summer, choosing a moisturizing product instead.
Olum said the product gives retailers a tie-in with their Escada fashion assortments, but admitted there is a certain "sensitivity" among retailers over the issue of servicing customers who may come back for another bottle after supplies have been exhausted.
"You must not be afraid to say, 'There is no more until next year when there will be a new scent,"' Palatin asserted.
The short shelf life did not deter sales last year.
"The seasonality was sensational," said Lawrence Appel, president of the New York subsidiary. "It almost sold out."
Although there will be no advertising in Europe, Escada will provide window displays to retailers and straw baskets as counter-top dispensers. Scented handkerchiefs will be given away and bandanas will be included as gifts-with-purchase.
In the U.S., the scent will be advertised in the May editions of at least four magazines -- Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Allure, according to Olum. At least 500,000 samples will be handed out and jewelry and scarves will be given to top-selling beauty advisers.
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