DKNY Men Has Its Day

DKNY hosts party with celebs Blake Lively, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, Mark Vanderloo to celebrate its new fragrance.

Mix a bevy of celebrities, VIP’s and a new DKNY fragrance in a trendy downtown Manhattan penthouse and one can imagine the party that took place at the Hotel on Rivington Wednesday night.

This story first appeared in the March 6, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The soiree was held to fete the launch of DKNY Men, Donna Karan’s first stand-alone men’s fragrance.

And standing in the crowd amid myriad flashbulbs and video cameras were such boldface names as Blake Lively, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, Mark Vanderloo — the face of the new scent — Becki Newton and Kim Raver.

“This fragrance is very woody and it makes a man smell like he’s a man — and I love that,” said Bensimon, who noted that she’ll be launching a jewelry line “very soon.”

Also among the crowd were executives from the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., which is the licensee for Karan’s beauty business. Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, president of the firm’s Aramis and Designer Fragrances division, noted that while the fragrance industry has been impacted by the economic downturn, there are programs in place to build Karan’s fragrance business next year.

“Besides bringing newness to the brand,” she said, “We’ll continue to support Be Delicious and Cashmere Mist.” She added that Lauder will also maintain the men’s business.

While she refused to discuss sales figures, industry sources estimated that Karan’s fragrance business was $500 million at retail six months ago. Those sources added that the economic doldrums have taken a toll on the business but by next year, the business could again reach the $500 million mark.

Aside from appearing in “Lipstick Jungle,” Raver said she will also star in a Washington-based drama called “Inside the Box,” which is modeled after a television news station.

“Ugly Betty’s” Newton, who is “a huge fan of Donna Karan,” said that “anything she touches, in my book, is a good thing.” She had similar sentiments about Sarah Jessica Parker, and said that if she had the opportunity to do a fragrance, she would.

On the other hand, Lively, who gave bottles of DKNY Men to her father and brother, would rather support an existing scent than do her own fragrance from scratch. “I still feel like I’m learning so much,” she said. “Gossip Girl” has a hiatus in shooting upcoming and she said she would do a movie if there was a script that she liked. If not: “We’ll see. I might just go to Africa with UNICEF and go to cooking school in Florence.”

Earlier in the day, Vanderloo made a personal appearance at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship to promote the DKNY Men fragrance, which was launched late last month at Macy’s. Industry sources estimate the appearance drove sales of Karan’s scents past the $4,000 mark on the day.