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This fall, look out for oriental hybrids, a chypre revival and ecstasies in violet. But the usual suspects—celebrity and fashion designer scents—will launch in droves too.
This story first appeared in the May 18, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
U.S. consumers are getting “more adventurous” with their fragrance preferences. According to Karen Grant, NPD senior beauty industry analyst, the market has seen a movement away from florals toward mossy wood and soft oriental scents. Traditional and soft florals now make up half of the top 20 women’s fragrances, down from 73 percent in 2003. “People are looking for more variety, especially when it comes to new fragrance families,” says Grant, adding that the oriental category has experienced continuous growth over the past three years, as the top 20 women’s fragrances include 8 percent floral orientals and 24 percent woody orientals.
What is masculine and what is feminine? The lines are blurring. Instead of challenging gender norms by launching unisex scents—a concept explored by Calvin Klein with CKOne in 1994 and Jean Paul Gaultier with Gaultier2 just last year—the industry is now offering women’s fragrances featuring traditionally masculine wood notes and men’s scents with edible and floral notes often associated with the fairer sex. “There’s more creativity with the borrowing of male and female notes. You’re seeing notes now crossing the line,” says Kate Greene, vice president of marketing at Givaudan, who cites Abercrombie & Fitch as a new women’s scent with a fougère note, something usually reserved for men’s colognes. As for the boys who are raiding girls’ drawers, she names Jean Paul Gaultier’s latest men’s introduction, Fleur du Male, which has an orange flower note, and DKNY Be Delicious for Men, which prominently features an apple note. “The rules are going away a bit,” Greene observes. Which is not to say that masculinity is on the wane. “The trend to release floral scents into the men’s world offers a new and refreshing option without being any less masculine,” said Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation.
“Go green!” might be the fragrance industry’s next rallying cry. Oil houses from Givaudan to Symrise are seeing their clients tap into a movement gaining momentum. “Various brands are positioning themselves to meet consumers’ need to be touched by nature,” says Isabel Lopes, vice president of evaluation at Symrise. “Consumers are seeking products with natural expression and what better way than to capture the natural world in fragrance?” Be that as it may, she acknowledges the challenges of including natural ingredients in a commercial fragrance. These include cost and safety restrictions as well as the availability of natural essential oils. “The safety profile of natural ingredients have limits on the amount that can be incorporated into a fragrance,” Lopes said. “The palette of materials a perfumer can use is smaller in comparison to the wide variety available from other sources.” Still, incorporating naturals might be worth the effort. Consumers can be captured by a single natural note, such as a rose, that delivers “a natural signature” to the fragrance, she says.
Coty Beauty is one company attempting to address increasingly environmentally aware consumers and has solicited fragrance houses to support this initiative. “We’re looking at new brands that could embody the green movement to give a more authentic message and product to consumers,” says Steve Mormoris, senior vice president of global marketing for Coty Beauty. “We’re going beyond celebrity and luxury fragrances by inventing a new form of fragrance that is a lighter olfactory experience and uses natural essential oils and recycled cartons. The challenge is marketing all these concepts to consumers in a way that makes sense, but we believe the bulk of our product offering can contain more natural ingredients than other classic fragrances in the market.”
Chypre & Chic
Chypre fragrances are back in full force this fall, according to Veronique Ferval, International Flavors & Fragrances’ director of fragrance development. “It’s a revival of old elegance but in a way that’s more sensual and darker,” Ferval says, citing Euphoria and Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely as recent examples of the trend. She notes that chypres are now in a range of new fragrances, from textured florals to spicy blends to scents that contain subliminal edible notes. “People are looking for a level of sophistication, elegance and sensuality that chypres can bring.”
Lynn Kaufman, marketing director of fine fragrances at Robertet, concurs. “Today’s chypre scents are less animalistic. The new chypres are paired with much cleaner woods, mosses and rich floral notes now,” she says, pointing to Badgley Mischka, Lanvin Rumeur and Serge Lutens Chypre Rouge as examples.
Luxury accessories company Leiber is embracing chypre with the launch of its first fragrance this September. The eponymous scent, featuring Italian bergamot as well as jasmine and rose notes, was created by Karine Dubreil of Mane and was inspired by Leiber’s new fine jewelry line. The bottle (in 30-ml. and 50-ml. sizes) resembles an Asscher-cut diamond and will be sold at Saks, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Leiber boutiques.
Michael Simpson, Fragrance Resources’ vice president of marketing, says that thanks to chypres, gourmand fragrances are growing up. “We see gourmand fragrances broadening this fall, as edible scents evolve from fruity expressions toward scents with more depth. Woody and chypre aspects will dress up classic gourmand notes.”
Retro flowers, such as rose, violet and iris, are also making a comeback, notes Dara Quinlan, Firmenich’s vice president of fine fragrance evaluation North America. “The use of classical flowers, which became old-fashioned, is now chic again,” she says. “These notes were a luxury that had been lost a little bit.” Classic flower notes can be seen in launches for Le Labo’s Rose 31 and Iris 39, Chanel’s La Pausa, and Black Violet from Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection.
To celebrate its 50th birthday this fall, Parfum Givenchy is restaging six of its masculine and feminine scents that helped establish the fragrance house a half century ago. While still packaged in their original flacons, each formula has been tweaked by its original perfumer. The collection includes L’Interdit, a perfume created in 1957 for Audrey Hepburn, containing notes of rose, jasmine and violet, along with a blend of woods and grasses. Eau de Givenchy, Givenchy III, Le De, Monsieur and Eau de Vetyver round out the collection.
In October, the most classic of classic floral fragrances, Chanel No. 5, will gain a hip young sister. Dubbed by executives as an “everyday luxury,” Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiére will incorporate all of No. 5’s original ingredients — including rose absolute, jasmine, neroli and ylang-ylang — but rebalanced in a lighter, airier formula by Jacques Polge. Housed in a 5-oz. clear glass bottle that’s reminiscent of the classic silhouette but taller, it will retail for $125.
Celebrity scents continue to be of importance for major retailers. This season, they’re hailing from the world of music, film and fashion, says Micheline Jordaan, vice president divisional merchandise manager of fragrances at Macy’s East. “A lot of attention has been paid to both the bottles and outer cartons of new celebrity fragrances,” she notes. As a result, the look of the new brands “will refresh the selling environment.”
Coty Beauty has a busy fall ahead with the launches of Starlight by Shania Twain, Intimately Beckham, Kate by Kate Moss and Nautica My Voyage. According to Coty Beauty’s Mormoris, the company is also relaunching Stetson this fall with an ad campaign starring Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and new packaging. “It’s a whole new concept appealing to a more modern customer around the brand’s Western positioning,” he says. “The original Stetson fragrance will stay the same, but we’re broadening its offering and adding different fragrances under the Stetson house.” In the prestige women’s market, Coty is launching Covet by Sarah Jessica Parker, Marc Jacobs Modern Gardenia, and L, a L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani fragrance. The company is also introducing a still-to-be named Calvin Klein men’s fragrance.
A host of other fashion designers are launching scents this fall. Shelley Rozenwald, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of cosmetics and beauty services for Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew, is also excited for the fall launch of Dsquared2 Perfumes new men’s scent. Dsquared2’s fashion sense is apparent in the fragrance bottle and packaging, which features a wooden frame around the glass bottle, she says. “Their first fragrance has a wide appeal to men from their 20s to 50s since it’s contemporary and sexy.”
Rozenwald is also looking forward to a new Prada women’s launch. WWD has learned through other sources that it will be called Prada Infusion d’Iris. “Its elegant green packaging is really refreshing and will stand out among other brands,” she says, adding that the original Prada women’s fragrance has ranked in the top five at Holt Renfrew. “It really reflects the house of Prada in every touch point of the brand.”
Saks also has a collection of luxury designer fragrances at the ready. “The brands are all reflective of our store’s matrix since they are synergistic to the ready-to-wear collections we carry at Saks,” says Kate Oldham, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics and fragrances. She’s excited by a new Fendi fragrance and Pucci’s whimsical entry. “It’s going to resonate with our customers. The new Estée Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia is very pretty and Aerin Lauder will get a whole new customer into the business.” Other Saks fall fragrance launches include D&G’s The One, Tom Ford’s women’s and men’s scents, Eau de Star by Thierry Mugler, Narciso Rodriguez For Him and Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiére.
In The Mix
Other fall launches for women include Unforgivable Woman by Sean John, Nina by Nina Ricci, Belle en Rykiel by Sonia Rykiel, Guerlain My Insolence, Midnight Poison, Usher She, Emporio Armani Diamonds, Diesel Fuel For Life Women, Missoni Acqua, Very Michael Kors, DKNY Be Delicious Art, Jo Malone White Jasmine and Mint, World of Your Own by Grassroots, Avon’s Christian Lacroix Rouge, Banana Republic’s Malachite, Muse by Oilily, Jaeger London, Bulgari Omnia Améthyste, Monique Lhuillier, Leiber, yet-unnamed Roxy, Vivienne Westwood, Lacoste, Anna Sui, Valentino, Gucci, Escada, YSL scents, plus La Part des Anges by Thierry Mugler. Also, Procter & Gamble will be introducing a yet unnamed Christina Aguilera scent that is scheduled to launch by yearend. For men, fragrance launches this fall include Tom Ford for Men, Usher He, Polo Explorer, Diesel Fuel For Life Men, Mustang, Azzaro Legend, Banana Rebublic’s Cordovan, Zegna Intenso by Ermenegildo Zegna, Narciso Rodriguez For Him, Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme Intense and to-be-announced Lacoste, Paul Smith and Escada scents.
For consumers seeking a path less traveled, Henri Bendel is bringing in Memorie Liquide, a bespoke perfume collection by Robin Coe-Hutshing, owner and creative director of Studio at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, Calif., and her sister Jennifer Coe next month. Its blending bar will house 150 essential scents that can be mixed and matched to the individual. “It’s about having a signature fragrance that’s completely unique to you,” says Claudia Lucas, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty for Bendel’s. “This offers a menu of fragrances [that customers can] choose from and then tweak, adapting it for individual [taste].” Bendel’s will be the only retailer to carry the collection on the East Coast. Prices range from $45 for a 0.5-oz. pure perfume roll-on to $75 for a sampler box set with three 0.25-oz. pure perfume roll-ons. A body moisturizer and shower gel will also be available for $28 each.
Bergdorf Goodman is banking on exclusive fragrances, too. “The whole idea of niche and luxury brands is still going, which will lead to an exciting season,” says Ed Burstell, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty, jewelry and accessories. “It’s more about rare ingredients with Tom Ford’s Private Blend collection and other brands like Guerlain and Jo Malone.” Bergdorf will offer women Tom Ford Voile de Fleur, Monique Lhuillier, Hermés’ Kelly Caleche and Guerlain’s L’Art de Materials Iris Ganache, in addition to the unisex Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa. New brands include Emilio Pucci Vivara, Ormonde Jayne, and natural pheromone enhancer Escentric Molecules from London. “It barely has a [smell] to it, but it’s designed to work with your body’s individual fragrance,” says Burstell.
The trend toward more alternative scents is something that Martha Basanta, Drom Fragrances marketing manager, is definitely noticing. Consumers are longing for a unique fragrance experience, she says, citing Le Labo, Frederic Malle, Juliette has a Gun and CB I Hate Perfume as examples of out-of-the-box thinking that she believes will challenge the fragrance industry. “Niche perfumery is opening doors to alternative brands where philosophies are different from the norm,” she says.
Finally, the 136-year-old French oil house Mane is breaking the mold by marketing its own women’s fragrance, a $5,000 a bottle creation called Yü, the Chinese word for rain or precious drops, according to Lori Mariano, general manager of Perfect Sense, a division of Mane responsible for fragrance concepts, products and distribution. “We won’t be replacing the existing market’s traditional manufacturers, but we think there are opportunities for fragrance houses to do such a thing,” she says. Only 500 crystal bottles of the “woody floral” scent, numbered and housed in a solid birch box lined in leather, is available worldwide. The ingredient blend includes champaca from Indonesia, jasmine absolute from India, genet absolute from Italy and Mysore sandalwood from India. “This is an opportunity for us to showcase our heritage and ability to blend rare natural ingredients,” says Mariano. “We have a desire to bring perfumery back to what it once was.” The fragrance, exclusive to Bergdorf Goodman’s personal shopper program since April, will launch in Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford in June plus select Nordstrom stores and NYC’s Aedes de Venustas in September.