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MILAN — Giorgio Armani Parfums and its L’Oréal Luxe licensing partner are raising the bar by launching a sophisticated chypre eau de parfum promoted by Australian actress Cate Blanchett as the face. Called Sì, the Italian word for “yes,” the edp is positioned as Armani’s first women’s fragrance pillar to be launched since Acqua di Gioia in 2010 and is expected to be a major sales driver.
“I have known and admired Cate Blanchett for many years,” said Giorgio Armani. “As I was developing the Sì project, defining the fragrance and imagining the bottle, I instinctively thought of her, and of the passion that can be perceived behind her impeccable manners and confident look — a seductive combination that fully respects the spirit of my new perfume.”
“Our goal is to build an iconic fragrance,” said Véronique Gautier, Giorgio Armani general manager at L’Oréal Luxe, a division of industry-leading L’Oréal. “We’ve constructed a juice that’s complementary to our existing portfolio.…It’s the affirmation of a very modern woman, and it’s a product of extremely high quality.”
Gautier said she expected the fragrance to land among the world’s top 10 bestsellers. She refused to discuss figures, but various industry sources speculated that Sì could bring in more than $100 million in retail sales, or more than $60 million on a wholesale basis, in its first year on counter.
Distribution will be kicked off with an exclusive prelaunch at Harrods in early August, and then throughout September the fragrance will hit shelves across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and in travel retail, a key segment for the Giorgio Armani brand. In the U.S. — the number-one market for Armani fragrances — Sì will arrive in the first quarter of 2014. Once rollout is complete, the scent will be in about 20,000 doors worldwide. While Italy and the U.K. are currently Europe’s top markets for Armani fragrances, Gautier said she expected Sì “to reinforce our position in France,” and noted that the label is also rapidly expanding its reach in China.
The bottle — which Gautier called “quintessential Armani style” — is in clear, rectangular glass with rounded edges and a polished black cap, revealing a rose-colored juice. Christine Nagel of fragrance house Mane developed the edp, which shuns the usual pyramid structure and is instead built around three distinct accords: cassis nectar, chypre and a light, musky wood. Other notes include vanilla, rose de mai, freesia, a dash of patchouli and two of Mane’s trademarked ingredients, Jungle Essence and intense orcanox. Gautier noted that chypre is a fragrance family that has been growing exponentially in the world market over the past 10 years.
Choosing Blanchett to represent Armani fragrances was “quite natural,” said Gautier, because the actress “already has a close relationship with Mr. Armani — they have a certain complicity.”
“With my very first paycheck as an actress, I bought an Armani suit, and I still have it and love it,” said Blanchett, who will soon appear in the Woody Allen film “Blue Jasmine” and is currently rehearsing with Isabelle Huppert for a play — “The Maids,” by Jean Genet — that premieres Tuesday at the Sydney Theatre Co. She added, “Mr. Armani has created an ever-evolving, ever-expanding, all-encompassing universe. It’s about the way you live your life and who you are as much as how you look.
“For me, fragrance contains memory, the scent of your mother, your friends.…I think fragrance is a really subtle but important way in which women express themselves and express who they aspire to be,” Blanchett continued. “This fragrance is very chic, timeless with a freshness and warmth I find inspiring.”
The advertising campaign — a full package that will include a film shot by director Anne Fontaine as well as images by photographer Daniel Jackson for print media and billboards — will first kick off in the U.K., in tandem with the Harrods launch, and then spread internationally. A digital campaign will also soon be under way. Gautier noted the campaign would portray Blanchett not only as a timeless beauty but also as a complex woman “who shows all her different facets.”
The campaign brought things full circle for Blanchett, who said director Fontaine is a close friend of fellow actress Huppert. “We shot the television commercial just as we started rehearsing the play with Isabelle, so it’s a very small world,” she said.
Sì will be available in three bottle sizes, 30 ml., 50 ml. and 100 ml., priced at 56, 82 and 113 euros, respectively, or about $72, $105 and $145. A scented body lotion and shower gel will complete the offering.