Frida’s New Man

Gucci creative director Frida Giannini will make her mark on the fragrance arena with the September launch of Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, her first men's...

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Gucci creative director Frida Giannini will make her mark on the fragrance arena with the September launch of Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, her first men's scent developed from scratch.

John Aquino

Gucci creative director Frida Giannini will make her mark on the fragrance arena with the September launch of Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, her first men’s scent developed from scratch. The Italian design house aims to establish the new men’s scent, coupled with last fall’s feminine counterpart, as the foundation upon which to build Gucci’s entire fragrance business.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

GENEVA — Flush from the success of her first women’s scent, Gucci creative director Frida Giannini has tried her hand with a men’s fragrance, Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, which is slated to hit shelves in the fall.

Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme is the first men’s scent that Giannini has created from scratch. In an exclusive interview with WWD, Giannini said the fragrance project captures her overall design concept.

“It completes my vision of the Gucci man I have worked on for the past two years…and now we are giving this Gucci man an iconic, contemporary fragrance,” said Giannini.

Gucci will fete the launch of the fragrance with a private dinner and party after its men’s fashion show on Monday.

The fragrance will be launched with high expectations. Although company executives would not discuss figures, industry sources estimate that its first-year retail sales could total $180 million to $200 million, based on Gucci by Gucci’s success. The women’s scent, which was launched last fall, reportedly is on track to generate $200 million in retail sales in its first 12 months.

“Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme will bring the whole Gucci men’s fragrance category to another level,” said Markus Strobel, global president, Procter & Gamble Prestige Products, Gucci’s licensee.

Strobel added the launch together with last year’s Gucci by Gucci women’s fragrance would be an anchor to the brand’s fragrance category.

“These are the two signature scents of the portfolio… everything else we will launch beyond that is going to build on the Gucci by Gucci franchise,” said Strobel.

Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme’s launch is slated for September, where in the U.S. the fragrance will be exclusive to Neiman Marcus. By mid-September distribution will extend to Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. A rollout plan from mid-October will enlarge distribution to 1,000 U.S. department stores. Globally the fragrance will arrive at 18,000 doors.

Though neither Gucci nor Procter & Gamble would give financial indications on Gucci’s fragrance category, both companies acknowledged the brand still had untapped potential.

“We are definitely satisfied with the results we have achieved in the last months,” said Mark Lee, Gucci’s chief executive officer, adding Gucci by Gucci had performed well in the U.K. and the U.S. “But this is a strategic category where we still have room to grow,” added Lee.

When asked if Gucci fragrances could double their sales in the next five years, Strobel said: “I don’t think this is impossible.”

To achieve that, Strobel said P&G Prestige Products had a two-pronged approach. After it took over the Gucci fragrance license in April 2006, it cleaned up the distribution by closing up to 8,000 doors. “Step two is use the Gucci by Gucci fragrances to reestablish the full luxury image and positioning,” said Strobel.

To that end, the Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme fragrance “reeks luxury” said Strobel.

Its flacon, designed by Frida Giannini, boasts a thick smoked glass silhouette, and is topped with a weighty silver cap crowned with Gucci’s iconic horse-bit — which proved a challenge for P&G’s industrial team to create, taking 15 months to finesse.

Giannini, who admitted she has become obsessed with the fragrance-making process since she took the reins on the category, said while perfecting the scent’s juice, she tested it on male friends and colleagues.

Giannini stipulated the juice “absolutely had to be something quite fresh, modern with a touch of cypress and citrus — to link it back to the women’s scent.”

The end result, blended by P&G’s fragrance team and Givaudan, is dubbed a “modernized woody chypre.” Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme opens with bergamot, cypress and violet top notes, followed by heart notes of tobacco leaves and jasmine and base notes of patchouli, amber and elemi — an incense-like note taken from a tree. “The elemi note intrigued me because together with the tobacco it turns up the intensity of the perfume,” said Giannini.

After the buzz of Gucci by Gucci’s TV advertising campaign — a trio of dancing models directed by David Lynch — Gucci tapped actor James Franco to front its Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme launch.

Shot in black and white, the TV spot depicts Franco — who bears a resemblance to James Dean — walking through an apartment, speaking lines to a faceless girlfriend from Bryan Ferry’s song “Slave to Love.” His dialogue is spliced with the song’s soundtrack, covered by Welsh singer Roison Murphy. Director Jan Wentz shot the commercial in London, while photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin captured Franco for the print advertising campaign.

“I was interested in an emerging name, I like working with a new face to fully express my vision of the Gucci man,” said Giannini, adding, “James has an intriguing air, he’s very contemporary, natural and at the same time has an intriguing, seductive side.”

Franco will take a front-row seat at Gucci’s men’s show on Monday and is also expected to attend the festivities later in the evening.

Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme’s line includes eau de toilette spray, 1.7 oz. for $55 and a 3.0 oz. size for $70, after shave lotion 3.0 oz. for $55, after shave balm, 2.5 oz. for $38, shampoo, 6.7 oz. for $30 and deodorant stick, 2.5 oz. for $24.

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