There’s something important that should come along with a fragrance, according to Betsey Johnson. A compliment.
This story first appeared in the July 9, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“If I don’t get compliments [on a fragrance], if guys don’t like it, I throw it out the window,” she remarked.
The exuberant designer was speaking at her Seventh Avenue showroom after signing a licensing deal with New York-based Inter Parfums Inc. for fragrances and personal care products — as well as color cosmetics. The deal even could extend to lipstick and eye shadow.
The agreement runs through Dec. 31, 2015.
“I think that after some kind of clothing existence, a designer needs a fragrance,” said Johnson. “It’s just like you have dessert after dinner.”
It’s a sort of fragrance go-round for the designer, who launched a scent four years ago with Colorful Licenses BV. “You win a few, you lose a few,” was her verdict on the ill-fated enterprise.
Jonathan Friedman, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Betsey Johnson LLC, explained, “We just didn’t have the partner like we do now. Inter Parfums has everything we’re looking for — global distribution and a great stable of other brands.”
The intention is to kick off with a “revival” of Johnson’s first scent, a modern interpretation of her fragrance from 1982. “It was a favorite, one of those do-it-yourselfers,” she said. “We got as close as we could [to the original formula],” she said of the current Inter Parfums iteration.
The fragrance is due in Johnson’s 66 boutiques, Web site and a yet-to-be-determined retail chain next month. That introduction will be followed by a newly developed women’s scent slated to bow next year. The scents will be composed via a collaboration with Firmenich.
The agreement with Johnson enables Inter Parfums to sell the fragrances and beauty products to specialty and department stores as well as other retail outlets worldwide, the firm stated.
Once before, in 2003, Inter Parfums dabbled in color cosmetics via a collaboration with Diane von Furstenberg, an experiment that ended in 2007, according to the designer.
Johnson, who cited fragrance as an affordable way to access a designer brand, added, “It’s the greatest product to be close to your customer with. It is the most intimate [accessory].”
While she would not reveal details about the scent, Johnson was clear about what she didn’t want: “It ain’t gonna be au naturel, sweet, foodlike — like chocolate — [or] patchouli.”
“We think this is a natural progression for her,” said Andy Clarke, president of Inter Parfums USA LLC’s specialty retail division.
Regarding plans for a Betsey Johnson color cosmetics collection, Clarke said: “We think there is a strong opportunity. Betsey’s all about color — really defines color.”
Johnson’s deal with Inter Parfums wouldn’t be her first foray into color. In the Eighties, she did a “very limited, home-grown” range of three shades, including red and hot pink lip color and nail polish.
“I grew up in heavy stage makeup because I studied dancing with a brilliant Broadway showgirl,” said Johnson. “So I love makeup. For a designer, makeup is part of everything your customer wears, ideally, from head to toe,” she continued.
The fragrance collection is to include various sizes of scents and ancillaries, as well as “Betsey-inspired, nontraditional forms of fragrance delivery,” according to Clarke, who noted the launch will be backed by a yet-to-be-developed ad campaign.
“It’s ageless, timeless,” Johnson said of her hopes for the scent. “And heavy-duty complimented upon.”