PARIS — It's ladies first for Paul Smith, whose new Rose fragrance is being launched in the fall.
Each of the other eight Paul Smith fragrances, on the market since Smith signed a beauty license with Inter Parfums SA in 2001, are part of masterbrands that began with the introduction of a men's scent.
Philippe Benacin, chairman and managing director of Inter Parfums SA, said the time was right for a Paul Smith women's fragrance. Not only would it come out on the market one year after the last Paul Smith men's fragrance and more than two years following the last women's scent, but it stems from a personal story.
The fragrance was a labor of love. It began when Smith's wife surprised him to celebrate his 60th birthday with a new, signature genus of rose. She worked for three years on the project with botanist Peter Beales, who unveiled the creation at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, where Smith was led for his birthday treat in 2006.
"My wife asked my assistant to leave that morning free to go with her somewhere," said Smith. "She never does that. I'm always working.
"There was the Sir Paul Smith Rose," said Smith. "It was really romantic. It made me have goose bumps.
"My wife wanted a rose that is tall like me," he continued of the choice of a climbing rose. "It's also energetic, like me. Lots of roses flower only once, but this one starts in April and flowers through September."
It is no wonder, then, that when Inter Parfums executives approached Smith about a new fragrance, the Sir Paul Smith Rose served as his inspiration.
"I always try to have a fragrance that has a true meaning," said Smith. "It is my personal way. There are so many fragrances created around the world in which the actual designers have no involvement. I always feel very nervous about something that is very commercial."
Smith's input is evident in all aspects of Rose, which was introduced in August in the U.K. and will be launched elsewhere in Europe starting in October. Asia and the U.S. are to get the fragrance in 2008.The musky woody floral scent was created with Givaudan's perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. "I really wanted to work hard to make sure the fragrance was very modern," said Smith, who said it's easy for the scent of rose to remind people of their mothers or grandmothers.
"Antoine literally captured the smell of the Paul Smith rose," said Smith, who called Maisondieu a "Harry Potter." "He got it in a glass container and ran away to Paris with it, and now it's in all of these bottles. I was amazed. I thought he would create something that smelled like the rose, but he actually captured it."
Maisondieu explained he used Givaudan's Scent Trek technology to capture the Sir Paul Smith Rose's smell. "We added green tea, which is very me," said Smith. "Musk is very me, too, being a child of the Sixties." Rose's juice also includes notes of bergamot, mandarin, absolute of rose from Turkey, magnolia flower, plus natural and synthetic cedars. Maisondieu said — like other Paul Smith fragrances — Rose is "sophisticated."
Smith wanted the Rose bottle to feel nice in one's hand, like a heavy fork and knife or a well-made car door. For this reason, the cap is made of metal rather than plastic and the bottle is full of glass. "It sounds and feels very special," said Smith. Each fragrance comes with a rose-printed cotton sachet. For the outer packaging, Smith chose a "punchy, strong graphic — it's modern in every way."
Modernity was key for the print and film advertising, shot by Alan Aboud, as well, said Smith. The campaign includes mostly single and some double pages worldwide, plus 20- and 30-second spots for movie theaters in the U.K.
There is traditional sampling, including miniatures and vials. "The thing you have to understand is that I don't know anything about fragrance at all," said Smith with a laugh. "I am very fortunate to have Antoine and Inter Parfums. I do have confidence in my decisions, and I have known what I have wanted, ever since my first fragrance."
And his vision is paying off. Rose has become Selfridges department store's biggest launch since September 2006, he said, adding, "It seems like we got it right." While Paul Smith executives would not divulge projects, industry sources estimate the Rose scent will generate between $7.5 million and $10 million in wholesale business between September and December.The Paul Smith Rose collection includes a 100-ml. eau de parfum spray for 69 euros, or $97.20 at current exchange; a 50-ml. eau de parfum spray for 49 euros, or $69; a 30-ml. eau de parfum spray for 35 euros, or $49.30; a 150-ml. body milk for 28 euros, or $39.40, and a 150-ml. bath and body gel for 26 euros, or $36.60 All prices are for France.
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