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Galliano’s Romantic Vision

What?s easier to make: a couture dress or a signature fragrance? Ask John Galliano...

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PARIS — What’s easier to make: a couture dress or a signature fragrance?

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

According to John Galliano, who is introducing his debut scent some 20 years after launching his fashion brand, it’s the latter.

“We had about 360 tests — more than for a couture collection,” mused Galliano, adding he’d long wanted to create a fragrance bearing his name. “Any designer dreams of this day.”

Galliano was involved with every step of the scent’s development. The outer packaging, for instance, was inspired by his “love of collage. My life is a bit like a collage,” said Galliano.

The British designer, who is also the couturier at Christian Dior, let his romantic vision run full throttle with the fragrance project, from scattering love letters throughout the room of its launch event to the multilayered references that figure in the final product. There’s the artist Baldini; Galliano’s frothy, bias-cut dresses; the powdery backstage at his fashion shows, and his childhood memories of freshly ironed shirts, to name a few.

“We were trying to capture the essence of the Galliano girl,” he continued of the fragrance due out starting at end-September.

To explain his idea, Galliano made up inspiration boards.

“We started working in the same way that we work on a fashion collection,” said Fabrizio Malverdi, executive director of John Galliano.  

“John spoke of flowers, particularly of rose, peony, iris with its powdery side, violet and of transparence,” continued Brigitte Wormser, vice president creation at Selective Beauty’s luxury division, who added Galliano researched antique fragrance bottles, too.

He draped such flacons with actual fabrics and then made drawings of them. Galliano’s bottle designs culls various influences. The treatment of the bottle’s neck, for instance, was inspired by collars appearing in his first fashion collection, Les Incroyables.

Wormser added that to re-create on the bottles a play of light on drapery found in Baldini’s paintings, Galliano and the team used a technique allowing for a gradation from metallic color to an almost transparent hue. It is the first time such a process has been used in the fragrance industry, she said.

The John Galliano flacon is topped with a Gothic G and its outer box is designed to look like a book, reminiscent of travel tomes the designer makes following his fact-finding voyages undertaken before creating fashion collections.

“He always makes a book of research of everything inspirational he found during the voyage,” said Malverdi.

A face assembled in collage appearing on the John Galliano box, whose sides are lined to look like pages of a book, is model Guinevere Van Seenus’. The outer box’s interior is printed with Galliano’s signature gazette.

Perfumer Christine Nagel (most recently at Fragrance Resources but who was at Givaudan while creating John Galliano) and the designer concocted a modern floral aldehyde. Like Galliano, Nagel has strong childhood memories of the odor given off from freshly ironed fabrics, and found an overdose of aldehyde gave a good riff on that. Aldehyde serves as the main olfactive structure around which flower notes are built, plus others including amber and patchouli.

Advertising for the fragrance, which comes in single and double pages, was shot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. For it, Van Seenus wears an specially created Galliano dress, while in a version destined for the Middle East she sports a Galliano-made jacket. The scent figures prominently in the ad whose tag line reads: “The number 1 fragrance from John Galliano.”

The scent will be launched at the end of September in the U.K., through an exclusive with Harrods, and in Germany. On Oct. 11, it is to be introduced in France, exclusively at Sephora, and then a few days later in Switzerland. The launch in the rest of the world will take place in 2009. Distribution of the fragrance will be extremely tight — in only some 3,000 doors worldwide in the first 12 months, according to Jim Ragsdale, managing director of Selective Beauty’s luxury division.

While Selective Beauty executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate the John Galliano scent will generate $30 million at wholesale in its first year.

The line includes a 90-ml. eau de parfum spray for 100 euros, or $158; a 60-ml. edp spray for 80 euros, or $126, and a 40-ml. edp spray for 60 euros, or $95. A 200-ml. body milk for 38 euros, or $60, and a 200-ml. shower gel for 33 euros, or $52, will be available at launch. A 150-ml. body scrub for 39 euros, or $62, will come out sometime after the initial fragrance introduction.

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