PARIS — M7, Tom Ford’s first men’s fragrance for Yves Saint Laurent, is not a male version of Nu, the French word for nude and the name of the women’s scent he introduced last October. But the same theme is there for the world to see.
Ford cast a tae kwon do champion for the ads of his latest fragrance and has him reclining in the buff.
“We wanted a guy who really looked like a guy,” explained Ford. He said Samuel de Cubber was chosen for being natural, sensual and relaxed, with “the kind of male beauty not seen since the 1970s.”
This visual is a nod to designer Yves Saint Laurent, who some 30 years ago posed nude for the ad of his first men’s scent, Pour Homme, said Ford.
As far as the name is concerned, “M” could stand for masculine or man, while “7” could be for the seventh men’s fragrance in the Yves Saint Laurent Parfums portfolio or a symbol of fortune.
“The name is symbolic of lots of things,” explained Chantal Roos, president of YSL Beauté, the parent company of YSL Parfums.
So, too, are other elements of M7.
Since taking the reins of YSL in 1999, Ford has been repositioning and reestablishing the brand. The house’s new scent is meant to be a stand-alone fragrance — not a male iteration of the women’s scent, Nu. It’s also supposed to be the olfactive embodiment of the new YSL man, who Ford describes as highly urban, intellectual and informed, plus very sexy, sensual and secure.
The advertising is expected to convey such qualities, as well.
For M7’s mid-October worldwide launch — except travel retail, which will take place later — there are two black-and-white ads, each of which come as single and double pages and have the tag line: The new fragrance for man. There’s the bare-all version and one featuring de Cubber in recline mode, with just his face and part of his torso showing.
M7’s oblong bottle is made of deep brown glass with a silver-colored band separating the cap from the body. It was created with Doug Lloyd. So were the bottles comprising the ancillary line, which are more tobacco-colored, but with similarly streamlined silhouettes.
The fresh woody sensual juice was developed by Firmenich’s Alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavallier. Its “warmth” springs from the heart, where there’s a high content of Agarwood, from Southeast Asia. This wood is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac.
“It’s the most expensive wood on the planet,” said Roos.
M7’s top notes are Italian bergamot, Sicilian mandarin and rosemary from Provence; its heart notes include vetiver from Haiti alongside Agarwood, and in the base are amber and musk notes.
Each of the three M7 ancillaries’ formulations include Mandrake root — another ingredient billed as an aphrodisiac. That’s mixed with a plant or root extract. For instance, there’s green coffee extract in the after-shave lotion meant to stimulate and soften skin, according to the firm.
Suggested retail prices in the U.S. for M7 will be $54 for a 3.3-oz. eau de toilette spray, $38 for a 1.6-oz. eau de toilette spray, $37 for a 3.3-oz. after-shave lotion, $21 for a 6.6-oz. all-over shower gel and $16.50 for a 2.5-oz. alcohol-free deodorant stick.
The collection is to be launched in tight distribution. Its initial introduction in the U.S., for instance, will take place in about 250 doors, rather than YSL’s entire network there of 1,800 stores. A sampling campaign will accompany the launch.
While YSL executives would not discuss numbers, industry sources estimate M7 will generate about $30 million in retail sales through yearend.
M7 is part of YSL’s push for a larger share of the men’s fragrance market. “With M7, our objective is to be number one — nothing else,” said Roos.
“This is a real, solid men’s fragrance meant to endure,” added Ford.