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Charlotte Gainsbourg to Front Balenciaga Scent

Nicolas Ghesquière and Charlotte Gainsbourg are teaming up to enliven the Balenciaga fragrance franchise.

Nicolas Ghesquière and Charlotte Gainsbourg are teaming up to enliven the Balenciaga fragrance franchise.

This story first appeared in the July 16, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Balenciaga creative director’s debut fragrance is launching worldwide in February next year and the French actress and musician will be the face of the advertising. Balenciaga signed on with licensee Coty Prestige last year to develop fragrances.

Gainsbourg, who is in Los Angeles to shoot the fragrance ad campaign and for a party today to introduce her new role, is no stranger to Ghesquière and PPR-owned Balenciaga, which is part of the Gucci Group. She replaced Jennifer Connelly last year to front the fall fashion advertising and has been close with Ghesquière for more than a decade.

“My friendship with Nicolas Ghesquière, our bond made of mutual admiration and complicity, grew so strong over the years that I was secretly hoping to be the face of Nicolas’ first perfume for Balenciaga,” said Gainsbourg, who is the daughter of French icons Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. “I have the feeling that the house of Balenciaga has become my second home.”

Ghesquière, who described Gainsbourg in WWD last June as “one of the most inspiring girls in the world” and “really representative of what France is today,” declared she personifies his upcoming fragrance. “Her unique sense of style, her graceful and intense talent have always been very inspirational for me,” he said. “This fruitful and long-standing relationship Charlotte has with me and the house of Balenciaga gives all its meaning to this project.”

Gainsbourg has been attached to 30-plus film projects, including “My Wife Is an Actress” and “The Science of Sleep,” and was feted with the best actress prize, called the Palme d’Or, at Cannes this year for her portrayal of a tortured grieving mother in the movie “Antichrist” directed by Lars von Trier. Gainsbourg has released two albums — “Charlotte for Ever” was her first, which was followed by “5:55” 20 years later — and is working with Beck on an album due out late this year.

Balenciaga has a long history in the fragrance business, and its premiere aldehydic scent Le Dix was released in 1946. Of late, Balenciaga has been relatively quiet in the fragrance world and let its licensing deal with Groupe Jacques Bogart (a division of Cyprus-based firm C.A. Papaellinas & Co. Ltd.) expire last year before connecting with Coty Prestige to restore the brand as a fragrance force.

Gainsbourg, a fashion favorite who is already a recognizable star in Europe and is gaining popularity elsewhere, gives Balenciaga a credible face to make a global statement in line with its fragrance ambitions.

But Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of marketing for American licenses at Coty Prestige, explained the choice of Gainsbourg was based upon her relationship with Ghesquière and not on her mounting fame.

“It was less about who can we get to endorse it and was more about developing a fragrance around her and Nicolas’ thoughts. She is going to be involved,” she said. “She is so associated with the house and she has never done a fragrance campaign. For us, it was less of a commercial initiative.”