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PARIS — Jean Paul Gaultier’s family of fragrances has a feisty new female member.
This story first appeared in the June 6, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Fifteen years after his first women’s scent Classique, the Parisian couturier and his beauty license holder Beauté Prestige International are gearing up to introduce Ma Dame globally this fall.
“I started with the mother, Classique, then Le Male, the father,” he said. “After that I did the Fleur du Male for men that was fresher and let’s say a younger man. And now I have the daughter. She’s more electric, dynamic and energetic. Classique was more sensual; it was more gustative.”
(Also in this fragrance family are the fused lovers represented by the Power of Two scent and Fragile women’s fragrance.)
Businesswise, Ma Dame is meant to spur sales of Gaultier’s women’s scent portfolio, which today generates about one-third of the beauty brand’s total revenues, according to Sylvie Polette-Danet, vice president of Parfums Jean Paul Gaultier.
“Jean Paul’s vision of femininity has evolved, and the market has evolved, too,” she said. “We are convinced there is a place for a second strong feminine Gaultier line.”
“Strong” is apparently the right word. While BPI executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate Ma Dame will generate $77 million at retail globally in its first 12 months.
Polette-Danet explained that the designer gleaned inspiration for the new fragrance from women on the street.
“These women between 18 and 30 years old have a new way to express femininity,” she said. “In particular, it’s the style of women Jean Paul calls ‘la garçonne.'”
That’s a gender-bending term, since “la” connotes something feminine and “garçon” means boy in French. Gaultier loves word games, as is evident by his new scent’s moniker.
“The name Ma Dame is like a little French joke,” he explained. “A ‘madame’ can be a woman of a bordello, and ‘madame’ can also mean someone bourgeois. Even in terms of dressing, ‘to dress like a madame’ in French is boring, super politically correct. But ‘ma’ ‘dame’ in two words means ‘my dame.’ It means she’s not like the woman in the bordello or bourgeois.”
She’s his muse. So Gaultier’s imprint is on all elements of the product mix. Ma Dame’s bottle, which he designed with Francesco Moretti of Paris Venise Design, includes a miniature bust reminiscent of Classique’s flacon’s shape (representing eternal femininity) in a rectangular framework (connoting inclusion), said Polette-Danet. There’s also the designer’s signature.
Ma Dame’s florescent pink details, inspired by a taffeta Gaultier used to make an haute couture dress, morph into other shades of red or orange (depending on the angle or the light) giving it a more punk aspect than the salmon hue of Classique. Also harking back to the Seventies or Eighties is the black collar around the bottle’s neck.
Ditto for the outer packaging’s bold, graphic typeface, redolent of the Sex Pistols’ logo. Each Ma Dame product comes in a cardboard box that must be ripped open. (It’s tradition for Gaultier packaging to be surprising and unique; Classique, for instance, is contained in a tin can.)
For the new scent, Gaultier said, “I wanted something that was fresh, not so voluptuous. I wanted some electricity.”
“We know there is a big opportunity, a big trend on the market toward fresh notes,” said Polette-Danet, “and it’s true the brand was totally absent from this market of freshness, both in men and in women.”
Created by Takasago’s Francis Kurkdjian, Ma Dame’s fresh floral fragrance is based on sour orange, fresh rose, cedarwood, grenadine and musk notes.
Model Agyness Deyn stars in the advertising shot by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, which includes 30-, 20-, 15- and 10-second takes for TV, movie theaters and the Internet. In the video, Deyn is all action, cutting her long hair and also her clothes to make herself into Ma Dame to the beat of Miss Kitten’s remix of “3ème Sexe.”
“She is free and knows what she wants and when she wants it,” said Gaultier. “She is autonomous and not like a female object.”
The print campaign includes five single-page images of Deyn in different iterations of today’s woman, and there’s also one still — in both single and double pages — showing both Deyn and Gaultier.
“For Jean Paul, being a madame is not a diktat, so it’s not just one attitude,” continued Polette-Danet, reviewing the images fanned out before her. “In 24 hours she can be all this.”
Ma Dame is meant to hit shelves on Sept. 1, although there will be some exclusives beforehand. These include one on Aug. 16 in Paris’ Galeries Lafayette and in Sephora on the Champs-Elysées, plus another in London’s Harrods. In the U.S., Ma Dame is to be carried exclusively at Macy’s from Sept. 1 to Dec. 1. There will then be a national rollout to about 1,200 doors in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.
In the U.S., the product line-up will include a 3.3-oz. eau de toilette spray for $87, a 1.6-oz. edt spray for $64, a 1-oz. edt spray for $42, a 6.7-oz. shower gel for $36 and a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $46.