Hermès Takes Flight With Voyage

Voyage d'Hermès, a new unisex scent, is due out this spring.

PARIS — As its name suggests, Voyage d’Hermès is a fragrance meant to conjure the essence of travel.

This story first appeared in the February 19, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The new unisex scent, due out this spring, will ultimately be sold in Hermès’ full distribution worldwide.

“Since the beginning of its history, Hermès has always explored, crossed frontiers,” said Catherine Fulconis, Hermès Parfums’ chief executive officer, referring to the house’s origins as a harness and saddle maker. “Travel is a manner of being. Whether immobile or mobile, [it] sharpens the sense of curiosity. You leave yourself, go toward the other, toward elsewhere, toward the unknown. And it’s that which interested us.”

Hermès perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena created the scent’s woody fresh musky juice. It is full of contrasts and compliments, company executives explained, giving as examples that there’s a freshness — to connote the excitement of a departure — and a softness, which is brought on with woody and musky notes.

Philippe Mouquet, Hermès’ designer of objects and prints, created Voyage d’Hermès’ “bottle object” that has an anodized aluminum outer part that recalls a stirrup and saddle tack. It pivots around the glass flacon, allowing its spray nozzle to be covered up or not.

“We asked [Mouquet] for an object that expresses travel,” said Fulconis, adding other criteria included that the design be simple, precise, timeless and innovative.

There’s an emphasis on ease-of-use and portability, which is why the bottle can be topped up with a refill that plugs into the fragrance bottle. The 35-ml. iteration is the star size in the line.

It has “the spirit of movement,” according to Falconis.

For Voyage d’Hermès’ outer box, Mouquet worked with graphic designer Fred Rawyler. They took a cue from the cloth material with chevrons that Hermès uses to make its protective drawstring sleeves. There’s also a depiction of the brand’s signature ribbon on the box.

Both single- and double-page print and film advertising for Voyage d’Hermès were shot by Eric Valli. A cabinetmaker by training, at the age of 18 he kicked off what turned into years of travel with a trip across Afghanistan by horse. His photos have appeared in magazines such as National Geographic and Paris Match and he has also directed movies.

Voyage d’Hermès’ ad campaign was conceived to depict an imaginary voyage and symbolic meeting of a galloping horse and a flying bird (which stand for — among other things — force and freedom), Hermès executives said.

“It’s the extension of the myth of Pegasus,” said an Hermès spokesman.

The ad’s film version, which comes in 40-, 30- and various 20-second takes, will be used notably in France on TV and in movie theaters. It is to be online, as well.

Voyage d’Hermès won’t be part of Hermès’ existing fragrance collections, such as Hermessence, Parfums-Jardins or Cologne. It will be carried in the brand’s full distribution of approximately 10,000 doors worldwide (as are Terre d’Hermès and Eau des Marveilles), said Hermès executives.

Hermès executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Voyage d’Hermès will generate 25 million euros, or $33.8 million at current exchange, in first-year wholesale revenues worldwide.

Voyage d’Hermès is to be launched starting mid-March in Hermès stores and then be rolled out in early April.

Under a recent partnership, Beauté Prestige International USA will distribute the fragrance in the U.S., where it is to be introduced in 275 sales points. Most of them will be specialty stores, including 30 Hermès boutiques. Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Hermès locations will put the product on counter on March 26. Bergdorf Goodman will follow on April 10, then Barney’s New York, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Sephora are to sell the scent starting Sept. 1.

For the U.S., 650,000 scented impressions will be made and 2-ml. deluxe samples are to be disseminated.

Nicholas Munafo, president of BPI USA, said since taking over the Hermès distribution six months ago, “we have been extremely encouraged by the extraordinary results we’ve seen in so short a period of time,” including during the holidays.

Voyage d’Hermès will come as a 35-ml. eau de toilette for 63 euros, or $85.23; the 100-ml. edt (which resembles the 35-ml. from straight on but is actually wider) is 90 euros, or $121.75, and the 125-ml. recharge is 74 euros, or $100.13. Ancillaries include a 200-ml. shower gel for the body and hair for 42 euros, or $56.83, and a 150-ml. deodorant spray for 28 euros, or $37.89. Prices are for France.