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Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel famously remarked “a women who doesn’t wear perfume has no future” and, later this month, the company which bears her name will release Coco Noir, an homage to her memory.
This story first appeared in the August 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In addition to honoring the designer, the scent is also intended to examine the interplay between light and dark and the luminosity of black and Baroque elements, noted Christine Dagousset, executive vice president of fragrances and beauté at Chanel Inc., calling it “addictive.”
The scent is a “luminous, transparent oriental,” said Christopher Sheldrake, perfumer for Chanel.
The fragrance, which Chanel’s master perfumer, Jacques Polge, concocted, has top notes of grapefruit and Calabrian bergamot; a heart of rose absolute, rose essence, jasmine absolute, narcissus and rose geranium leaf, and a drydown of Brazilian tonka bean, Venezuelan tonka bean, Indonesia patchouli, New Caledonian sandalwood, bourbon vanilla and white musk frankincense. Sheldrake noted that bergamot adds freshness to the mix, while geranium leaf lends brightness and narcissus lends “animal sensuality.”
Noir’s bottle is in the classic Coco shape, executed in black with gold accents. “You can’t see the juice inside, which makes it more mysterious,” said Sheldrake.
Noir is the third in the brand’s Coco franchise; the original, Coco, bowed in 1984, while blockbuster Coco Mademoiselle was introduced in 2001. While all three are oriental scents, Noir is a luminous oriental, Coco a floral oriental and Mademoiselle a fresh oriental, said Sheldrake.
“Noir sits in its own space,” said Sheldrake. “We are careful not to launch a lot of fragrances — we choose to create scents that represent an era, not a passing fancy. ”
Dagousset concurred, saying adamantly that Noir will not cannibalize Chanel’s existing fragrance business. “This is more about bringing new choices to Chanel,” she said.
A 1.7-oz. Noir eau de parfum will retail for $98 in the U.S.; a 3.4-oz. size will sell for $130. Ancillaries are slated to join the collection within the next 12 months.
A prelaunch sampling program in a handful of upscale U.S. retailers began Aug. 1, “The intention was to create buzz,” said Dagousset. The scent will appear on counter Aug. 17 globally.
While Chanel’s total fragrance universe in the U.S. is comprised of 2,000 department and specialty stores, only about 700 of them will get Coco Noir at launch. Launch retailers in the U.S. include Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s. Although executives declined to break out sales projections, industry sources estimate that the new fragrance could generate as much as $20 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter, despite the limited distribution.
Print advertising, which will begin dropping in September fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, was shot by Guido Mocafico and features a hero shot of the bottle. A social media program is also planned, although Chanel declined to offer additional details.