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CH Carolina Herrera Scent Set for U.S. Launch

With new scent CH Carolina Herrera, the designer and her daughter are aiming to add a third pillar to an already large U.S. fragrance business.

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With new scent CH Carolina Herrera, the designer and her daughter — and her fragrance licensee, Puig Beauty and Fashion Group — are aiming to add a third pillar to an already large U.S. fragrance business.

This story first appeared in the April 3, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“This is an extremely strategic launch for Puig U.S.,” said Didier Maine de Biran, general manager of Puig USA. “The launch of CH will be key in positioning the Carolina Herrera fragrance brand in the U.S., aligning it with the fashion image and continuing to build momentum. We have therefore developed a selective distribution platform for the brand in order to most effectively launch and position CH, aligning ourselves with the global brand strategy.”

The Herrera fragrance business in the U.S. currently has two main pillars: 212, which is New York-centered, and Carolina Herrera New York, which includes such scents as Chic, explained Jose Manuel Albesa, chief brand officer for Puig Beauty and Fashion Group. CH Carolina Herrera, a counterpart to the apparel and accessory brand of the same name launched in 2001, is intended to be the third and potentially the largest pillar, he added.

The U.S. is the final market to get the scent, which was first launched in Spain in late 2007. Shortly thereafter, it rolled out to Latin America, the Middle East and elsewhere in Europe.

The reason? According to Albesa, the fact that the Herrera brand is Puig’s largest had much to do with it. “We chose to wait to introduce the CH fragrance in the U.S. because we were still building the CH [fashion and accessories] line’s distribution, and also because we wanted to have a good knowledge of the reaction to the fragrance in other markets before bringing it to Carolina’s home market,” said Albesa. “In Spain, the fragrance remains in the top three; in the Middle East, it’s in the top 10, and it’s in the top 10 in Russia. It is also doing extremely well in Latin America. We are expecting great things from it in the U.S.”

And Carolina Herrera would have it no other way. “My daughter Carolina and I are both perfectionists,” she said during an interview at her showroom earlier this week. “Especially in this economic time, that is very important, whether you are talking about fashion or fragrance. If a dress is beautiful and isn’t finished properly, and it falls apart when you put it on, you won’t buy another one. If the fragrance bottle is beautiful but the fragrance itself doesn’t smell good or last, you won’t buy another bottle and the fragrance will not be a success. You can’t fool the customers. That is why it is so important for the product to be perfect before we introduce it to the market.”

The two Carolinas and Firmenich’s Olivier Crespe collaborated on the fragrance, which Herrera Jr. says was inspired by many of the things she loved as a child while living at her family’s estate, La Vega, just outside Caracas, Venezuela. “Bulgarian rose, praline — I wanted to create something that reminded me of the best parts of childhood,” she said. The scent has top notes of Italian bergamot, grapefruit, Sicilian lemon and melon; a heart of Bulgarian rose oil, sambac jasmine, orange blossom, praline and Sri Lankan cinnamon, and a drydown of sandalwood, cedarwood, suede, cashmere, patchouli, amber and transparent musk.

The range includes eaux de toilette in two sizes — 1.7 oz. for $70 and 3.4 oz. for $90 — as well as a 200-ml. shower gel, $45, a $48 body lotion and a candle, $60.

The rounded bottle has a red leather sleeve embossed with the CH logo. The silver cap bears the CH initials, and a silver-toned charm on a red ribbon reinforces the brand name.

In the U.S., CH will be launched at Nordstrom in July. It will be exclusive to the retailer for two months before entering the rest of its U.S. distribution in September. At full rollout, it will be in about 230 doors in the U.S., including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. In the U.S., Coty distributes the scents.

Print advertising, shot by Tim Walker, will begin running this fall — date to be determined — in fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. The image features models Lisa Cant and Aaron Ward; Cant is in a red Herrera creation, surrounded by fragrance bottles. “There is a sense of fantasy in the ads,” said Herrera Jr. “Perfume should make you fly — that idea of over-the-top fantasy was in our minds when we were creating the ads.” Walker also shot a TV ad being used globally. To further enhance synergies between fashion and beauty advertising, Walker shot a fashion campaign at the same time as the beauty ads, with 12 fashion shots and eight beauty shots to be used globally, said Albesa.

While none of the executives would discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated CH Carolina Herrera could do $7 million to $10 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter.

The Herreras are already at work on a men’s counterpart to CH. “We will keep key elements like the leather accents,” said Albesa. “We want to create a CH masterbrand.”

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