By and  on June 20, 2008

PARIS — Giorgio Armani and his beauty licensee L'Oréal are out to dazzle consumers starting this fall with the new Emporio Armani Diamonds for Men fragrance, targeting the 20- to 30-year-old urban set.

Armani already commands a dominant position in the men's fragrance market worldwide, according to the firm's executives, thanks to bestsellers such as Aqua di Gio, Code for men and Attitude. Diamonds for Men, whose core consumers are expected to be the youngest yet for products in that portfolio, is meant to further bolster that standing.

Although Armani executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate Diamonds for Men will generate $185 million at retail, of which the U.S. should ring up one quarter, in the first 12 months worldwide.

"This will be the biggest men's launch for us in this country," said Stéphane de la Faverie, general manager of L'Oréal U.S.A.'s Giorgio Armani Beauty division, who explained the goal is for Diamonds for Men to be the top launch in the U.S. this fall, then settle into third place behind Aqua and Code. The countrywide introduction will be backed by 100 million scented impressions. These include more than 20 million scented strips attached to advertisement insertions.

Diamonds for Men's launch, including an August introduction in the U.K. and Germany, followed by a September roll-out to the rest of the world — including 2,200 U.S. department-store doors — comes one year following the debut of Emporio Armani Diamonds for women.

It might be atypical for men to wear diamonds, but L'Oréal viewed it as an opportunity.

"Usually, when you think about diamonds, you refer to women," said Renaud de Lesquen, international brand president of Giorgio Armani Parfums and Cosmetics. "On the contrary, when we discussed that with Mr. Armani, we immediately saw this was an opportunity to push boundaries. From the very start of this project there was a wish to be a bit more audacious."

De Lesquen said the firm focused on a lifestyle positioning and "the masculine aspect of a diamond, its solidity, its sharpness."

Emporio Armani Diamonds for Men's bottle, created by Armani himself, is supposed to recall a square-cut diamond.A snatch of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," the song sung by Beyoncé Knowles in the ad for the women's Diamonds fragrance, weaves into the spot for the men's scent featuring Josh Hartnett. In that ad, lensed by David Slade, that's destined for TV, the actor (who has starred in films such as "The Black Dahlia" and "Black Hawk Down") is shown preparing for an event. He dresses then drives along while listening to the radio. Hartnett flips stations and hears a smidgen of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and moves on to another tune. On arriving at the event, throngs await him. A swell of admirers and paparazzi surround Hartnett as he makes his way to an entryway.

The print ad, by Mario Testino, which is to appear as single and double pages, was taken on location as a true paparazzi shot.

"Mr. Armani didn't want at all an arrogant portrait or a pose," said de Lesquen. "We wanted something fun. Josh was quite involved in all the creative process [including the choice of Slade]. What Mr. Armani wanted was something that is very true. He's interested in the genuineness of a diamond. Josh is genuine, authentic, not arrogant. That's why Mr. Armani selected him."

De Lesquen added that the ad — and the project in general — is about daring to enjoy life, being oneself, taking a share of fame while remaining human.

As an olfactive interpretation, Firmenich's Jacques Cavallier concocted a woody gourmand aromatic juice, which includes notes of bergamot, gaïac and cedarwoods, vetiver, Szechuan pepper, cocoa and ambroxan.

"The juice has a classic construction that has an interesting twist at the top, a gourmand twist," said de Lesquen, referring to the mix of cocoa and gaïac wood notes. "It's quite unusual and in my opinion quite new in the men's category."

In the U.S., the Diamonds for Men line will include a 30-ml. eau de toilette spray for $37.50, a 50-ml. edt spray for $52.50 and a 75-ml. edt spray for $62.50. Ancillaries include a 75-ml. aftershave lotion for $42.50, a 200-ml. shower gel for $29 and a 2.6-oz. deodorant stick for $17.

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