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All Aboard the Versace Locomotive

Donatella Versace has climbed aboard the luxury express en route to a tonier positioning for her fragrance business.

Donatella Versace has climbed aboard the luxury express en route to a tonier positioning for her fragrance business.

This story first appeared in the October 24, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Unfazed by the threat of a global financial collapse and a worldwide recession, the designer has created what appears to be the final word in perfume luxury, an eau de parfum that comes in a gleaming, hand-stitched white leather train case. The price is an equally imposing $2,100.

The name of the fragrance is called simply Gianni Versace Couture and it is the first scent created for that division of the Milan design house. The house has been working with its beauty licensee and distributor, Euroitalia of Milan, for the past three years. Other fragrances in the stable include Versace, Versace Pour Homme, Versace Bright Crystal and Versace Man Eau Fraiche.

“Versace has reestablished itself as a modern luxury brand,” Versace said. “The Gianni Versace Couture fragrance project will reestablish Versace at the top of the beauty luxury sector.”

The distribution will be as exclusive as the price is exotic. Current plans call for the train case to be retailed only through Versace’s 84 boutiques around the world. It will be launched in November in Europe and in the U.S. in December. Described as a limited edition scent, only 100 pieces will be manufactured. However, more will be produced upon request.

The product is certainly sumptuous. The 3.4-oz. bottle of scent is sheathed in the same leather as the train case. Both the sheath and the box bear metal plates engraved with “Gianni Versace Couture.” The detailed workmanship and made-to-order quality was meant to evoke a past era of glamour and graciousness.

The bottle is supported inside the case by a liner that can be removed to make it function like a regular carrying case.

“Seeing it was such a special one-of-a-kind fragrance, we wanted to offer a one-of-a-kind packaging that can be used again for one’s jewelry or as a hope case,” Versace noted.

She worked with perfumer Sophie Labbé of International Flavors & Fragrances to create the floriental-woody scent. Citrus accents of bergamot and mandarin blend with energetic notes of red berries and tangerines to form the top notes. The heart of the formula dissolves into a floral bouquet. Sambac jasmine mingles with velvety heliotrope and almond blossom tones. The essence of Tonka bean combines with the woody notes of patchouli heart and sandalwood.

“I have always loved beauty, so I wanted to create a truly special fragrance,” said Versace. “It represents all the most luxurious elements I personally love and is a one-of-a-kind sensual experience.”