By  on February 27, 2009

PARIS — Guerlain has a new fashion focus.

The French fragrance house, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has collaborated with Parisian couture collector and designer Didier Ludot on its latest scent, called La Petite Robe Noire (or The Little Black Dress, in English).

The project marks a departure for Guerlain and a first for the brand. “A dress has never been the source of inspiration for a Guerlain fragrance before, so La Petite Robe Noire is a first,” said Laurent Boillot, Guerlain’s president and chief executive officer, during a recent cocktail party celebrating the new scent at Guerlain’s flagship on Paris’ Champs-Elysées. “La Petite Robe Noire was not only inspired by women, but it represents the very idea behind the woman who wears it, which is what sets it apart from the other fragrances in our portfolio.”

Ludot, an avid collector and designer of little black dresses, created a gown as inspiration for the scent. Guerlain chose to work with Ludot because, as Boillot noted, “Didier Ludot is the little black dress.”

“Guerlain is Parisian luxury and the little black dress is Parisian chic — this combination made for an interesting osmosis,” Ludot added. “A little black dress truly comes alive only when worn with a fragrance; it is the sole piece of jewelry needed.”

The scent’s sartorial inspiration is carried through to its flacon, which was designed by Serge Mansau to recall vintage Guerlain bottles. It features the outline of a dress etched into its black-tinted glass.

La Petite Robe Noire’s fruity floral juice, blended by Drom perfumer Delphine Jelk, features notes of Sicilian lemon, almond, liquorice, patchouli, rose and smoky tea. Priced at 90 euros, or $114.80 at current exchange, per 50-ml. spray bottle, the eau de parfum will be part of Guerlain’s The Exclusive Fragrances Collection.

Distribution for the fragrance is to be highly selective. For its debut this month, it will only be available in Guerlain’s 11 Paris boutiques, while special orders from retailers in the French provinces will be shipped from the Maison Guerlain. There is no timetable for international launches, but, according to Boillot, rollout to markets including Russia, the U.S. and Hong Kong will be on a case-by-case basis.

Guerlain executives declined to discuss first-year sales forecasts. However, industry sources estimate La Petite Robe Noire will generate first-year retail revenues in France of 10 million euros, or $12.8 million.

There will be no advertising for the fragrance.

A copy of the dress designed by Ludot, which inspired the fragrance, will be auctioned off for charity. Additional ones will be sold in the designer’s Palais Royal boutique for 950 euros, or $1,211.80

To fete the launch of La Petite Robe Noire, 13 dresses from Ludot’s spring 2009 collection are being shown in Guerlain’s flagship through Thursday.

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