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Burberry the Beat for Men, due out this fall, is aptly named — its chief inspiration, said Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, was music.
This story first appeared in the August 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I think there is so much crossing over between creative mediums,” said Bailey, Burberry’s creative director, in a recent phone interview. “Art, design, fashion, music — they all feed off each other and inspire each other. So I sat with the perfumers and gave them a ton of music.
“I think it’s a bit lazy to say, ‘The guy is 18 to 25, lives in that type of house…’ I don’t care how old or how young the guy is,” continued Bailey. “It’s the attitude, and what taste the direction goes in. So the perfumers listened to the music as they were creating the fragrance, and they got it instantly.”
What they got, Bailey said, was the sense of “being young and effortless” that he was after.
“I wanted this fragrance to be about movement, energy — a younger, cooler, more urban Burberry,” he said. “I also wanted it to encompass film and the arts. As a brand, Burberry has so many different facets — there’s the traditional historic side, but also this incredible pop culture side. I love the historic side, and I use it as my foundation — I love that base, something that’s familiar and stable. But on top of that, you have to have a modernity, a modern relevance. And I didn’t want it to be too slick.”
For the record, the playlist given to International Flavors & Fragrances perfumers Olivier Polge and Domitille Bertier included cuts from the Fratellis, Razorlight, Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys. They interpreted that into a fresh woody scent that is a mix of leatherwood, vetiver bourbon, cedrat, black pepper and violet leaves accord. “The Beat for Men is very modern, very urban and well connected to London rock ’n’ roll,” said Philippe Bencin, chief executive officer of Inter Parfums Inc., which holds Burberry’s beauty license. “The fragrance is fresh and woody with a citrus start that should appeal to a younger audience.”
In the end, said Bailey, “this fragrance was from the heart, just as the women’s was. It wasn’t some big study. They wanted me to express the spirit of this person, which is what I did.” Bailey had the men’s version in mind when he created Burberry the Beat for Women, released this past March. “I knew they would be living together in the same universe, so they had to make sense together,” he said. “When we were designing, we kept both in mind. It actually made doing the men’s version very easy — it felt effortless.”
It may be an unorthodox approach, but it’s working, said Don Loftus, president and ceo of P&G Prestige Products in the U.S. He added that the Burberry fragrances have “consistently been top sellers” for P&G Prestige Products. “Some fashion houses run hot and cold, but Burberry’s on fire,” Loftus said. “They are particularly strong in men’s fragrances.” And he approves of the musical connection: “Both music and fragrance create a mood and change your point of view, so we think it’s an innovative way to approach the development process,” added Loftus.
Bloomingdale’s will launch the fragrance in September and it will be the retailer’s exclusive until February, when it will begin rolling out to its full U.S. universe of 2,600 department and specialty store doors. “Bloomingdale’s has been a great partner both for us and for the fashion house, so it made sense to give them the exclusive,” Loftus said.
The range includes eaux de toilette in 1.7 oz. and 2.5 oz. sizes, $55 and $65, respectively, which will be in store in September; a 3.4-oz. aftershave lotion coming in November, $50; a 5-oz. Soothing After-Shave Balm, $46; a 5-oz. Energizing Shower Gel, $32, and a 2.5-oz. deodorant stick, $26, all coming in January.
National print advertising, shot by David Sims, features a handful of Bailey’s favorite Brits — actor Alex Pettyfer, vocalist George Craig, musician-model Will Cameron, vocalist-guitarist Kristian Walker and creative artist-talent manager Jonny Epstein. Stateside, it will break in The New York Times in October, followed by December placements in men’s and lifestyle magazines.
“I wanted real people doing real things, not just a bunch of models,” said Bailey, adding that he knew all five men from previous projects. “I didn’t want it to be just about a handsome guy looking smolderingly into the camera. The ad image is so important to show your point of view — I wanted to articulate the fragrance’s attitude with the visual. Together, they sum up the feeling that anything is possible.”
While none of the executives would discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate that Burberry the Beat for Men will do about $30 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter. P&G Prestige Beauty is said to be spending about $15 million on advertising and promotion for the fragrance in the U.S.