The New, Sexier Bulgari

TAORMINA, Sicily — Bulgari has injected sensuality into its fragrance profile.<BR><BR>That was definitely a factor when the company created its new men’s fragrance, called Aqua Pour Homme, that was unveiled recently on the Italian island...

TAORMINA, Sicily — Bulgari has injected sensuality into its fragrance profile.

That was definitely a factor when the company created its new men’s fragrance, called Aqua Pour Homme, that was unveiled recently on the Italian island of Sicily last month.

Aqua Pour Homme marks the third freestanding men’s fragrance for the Roman jewelry company. A tentative launch plan for Aqua Pour Homme will begin worldwide later this year, with a rollout planned through April 2005.

In an interview before the debut in the hilltop town here, Bulgari chief executive officer Francesco Trapani said Aqua Pour Homme represents a departure from other fragrances in the Bulgari portfolio.

“We wanted to make a classic but we wanted a note of sensuality in this fragrance; in the past our fragrances have been a little cold,” said Trapani.

Asked about plans for the company’s fragrance business, Trapani declined to reveal any details on 2005’s strategy.

Trapani did say that he expected the fragrance business to continue to be 10 to 15 percent of the company’s annual turnover for the next three years. In the first six months of 2004, Bulgari’s fragrance sales totaled $70.9 million, or 57.8 million euros, and for the same period total revenues reached $433.6 million, or 352.8 million euros. All figures are converted at current rates of exchange.

Trapani added that Bulgari already had a strong men’s fragrance business that consistently contributed to 50 percent of the company’s total fragrance sales. Although Trapani declined to give numbers, Aqua Pour Homme is expected to be a strong seller, so much so that some industry sources estimate that the fragrance could generate as much as $40 million globally at retail in first-year sales.

“We have to say we are content with the fragrance business and we are satisfied with how it has grown since we started it in 1992. We are happier now that we have complete control of our distribution. It is important to us to retain the profitability of the fragrance business and continue to grow,” said Trapani.

Later, the fragrance was launched at Taormina’s ancient cliff-top Greek theater, built nearly 3,000 years ago. The theater overlooks the Mediterranean and in the distance streams of bright orange lava could be seen flowing from Mount Etna — one of Sicily’s active volcanoes.

This story first appeared in the November 5, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Before presenting Aqua Pour Homme, Sicilian percussionists played while ocean images passed over the stage floor of the theater. Afterward a voluminous stretch of fabric screened the scent’s TV advertisement. The campaign was filmed in Italy and directed by Jason Harrington and features Spanish model Oriol Elcado. Photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot shot the print campaign for the fragrance.

The scent was developed by Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich and is described by Trapani as “classical but very contemporary at the same time due to its mix of ingredients.” The fragrance has top notes of petit grain, a distillation of orange tree leaves and twigs and mandarin. Middle notes include santolina and posidonia, an aquatic plant found on deep sea beds. The fragrance’s end note is mineral amber.

Shaped to look like a smooth stone from the bottom of the ocean, Aqua Pour Homme’s spherical flask bottle is made of heavy blue-green glass with a silver cap that covers some of the glass. Fabrice Le Gros designed the bottle, the firm that also designed the award-winning interlocking ring bottle for Bulgari’s women’s fragrance Omnia.

Everywhere on Aqua Pour Homme’s packaging the word Aqua bears the same ancient “v” in place of the letter “u,” a feature found in Bulgari’s signature script.

The fragrance will be available in two sizes, a 3.4-oz., or 100-ml., eau de toilette natural spray priced at $68, and a 1.7-oz., or 50-ml., version, priced at $48. A bath line has been created for the scent, including a 3.4-oz., or 100-ml., aftershave emulsion splash, priced at $50; a 6.8-oz., or 200-ml., shampoo and shower gel, priced at $35, and a 3.4-oz., or 100-ml., deodorant spray, priced at $22.

— Stephanie Epiro