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Karl Lagerfeld to Launch Fragrance Masterbrand

According to industry estimates, the new brand could do more than $70 million in worldwide retail sales the first year on counter.

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PARIS — “The men’s scent is really 100 percent what I’m using for the moment,” said Karl Lagerfeld, taking a whiff of his wrist. “This I like even better when it’s a little dried down.”

The designer was speaking exclusively with WWD in his Left Bank photo studio here about his new signature fragrance masterbrand that’s due out this month.

A longtime fragrance aficionado known to spritz different scents on his curtains, slipcovers, plus everything he wears, Lagerfeld made lickety-split decisions on the Karl Lagerfeld Parfums project with licensee Inter Parfums.

“I don’t believe in projects that come together too slowly; having too much time is very bad,” he said. “It’s like cooking: Eat it when it’s hot.”

Lagerfeld knew what he didn’t want in the mix. “When lavender is too basic, I don’t like it,” he gave as an example. “Especially in the modern world, there has to be a kind of sophistication and not too much of a down-to-earth garden, flowery hothouse mood. That’s from the past. There has to be a sophisticated twist in the perfume; if not, the old ones are better.

“The important thing with a perfume is to be new when it comes out and [then] turn into a classic in your bathroom,” continued the designer.

The Karl Lagerfeld women’s eau de parfum — which includes notes of lemon, peach, rose, magnolia, plumeria, musks and woods — was created by Mane perfumers Serge Majoullier and Christine Nagel.

In the men’s eau de toilette, concocted by International Flavors & Fragrances’ Jean-Christophe Hérault, are notes of lavender, mandarin zest, apple, violet leaves, sandalwood and amber.

Lagerfeld’s silhouette (replete with ponytail and shades) appears on sleeves surrounding the fragrances’ outer black-and-white packaging, its top and the bottle cap. The scents’ flacons — black for the men’s and clear for the women’s, allowing for the dusty pink liquid to show through — have a collar around their necks, reminiscent of Lagerfeld watches, and a generous amount of glass.

“I like them quite solid; it’s like a block of crystal,” said Lagerfeld, who photographed the advertising featuring Kati Nescher and Baptiste Giabiconi.

Philippe Benacin, chairman and chief executive officer of Inter Parfums SA, said he told Lagerfeld during their first meeting that not enough had been done in the past to make his fragrance brand more luxurious.

“There’s [also] a little touch of rock ’n’ roll,” Benacin noted, of the fragrance project.

As part of the digital push backing the scents’ launch, specific Lagerfeld-related emoticons were created, to be available starting Tuesday for free download on iPhones and Android devices.

The women’s fragrance comes in 85-, 45- and 25-ml. spray versions, which are to retail in France for 85, 59 and 39 euros, or $118, $82 and $54 at current exchange, respectively. There will also be a body milk.

The men’s scent is to be offered in 100-, 50- and 30-ml. bottles, which are to go for 72, 55 and 39 euros, or $100, $76 and $54, respectively.

The fragrances will be launched worldwide through September. They are to come out exclusively in the U.K.’s Harrods starting Sunday, followed by the U.S., where from Tuesday they will be sold exclusively at Macy’s and on macys.com through the fall, when the duo will be rolled out to broader distribution countrywide. In France, the masterbrand is to be introduced on Thursday in Galeries Lafayette, BHV Marais and Karl Lagerfeld boutiques.

Inter Parfums executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate the new fragrances will together generate between 50 million euros and 60 million euros, or $69.3 million and $83.2 million, in first-year retail sales worldwide.

The fragrance push is a key part of the Karl Lagerfeld brand strategy to become a global fashion and lifestyle business, said Pier Paolo Righi, president and ceo of Karl Lagerfeld Group BV.

“Following the substantial retail rollout that we did exactly one year ago after the launch of the watch category, I think fragrance is the next big launch,” added Righi.

Prior to Inter Parfums, which signed the 20-year Karl Lagerfeld fragrance license in October 2012, Coty Inc. was its licensee. Coty launched the Kapsule collection and Karleidoscope, neither of which has been kept on the market. From the past, the Lagerfeld Classic scent remains.

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