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Lagerfeld’s Geometry Theorem for Fragrance

Karl Lagerfeld is throwing an equal-opportunity bash with the launch of his fragrance trio, Kapsule.

PARIS — In the same way apparel items in a capsule fashion collection may be mixed and matched, so, too, can the individual fragrances in Karl Lagerfeld’s new line, Kapsule, due out starting this fall.

The designer created the trio of scents for men and women with his fragrance licensee Coty Inc.

“I love the world of perfumes,” Lagerfeld said Thursday. “For me, the world of fashion doesn’t exist without it.”

The designer, a longtime fragrance aficionado, calls scent “a composition. It’s like music for the nose.”

Notes he likes best include fresh bread, vanilla, woods and spices. “I don’t like heavy, flowery things,” he continued. “I think there are never enough fragrances — they are so much fun to play with.”

Indeed, Lagerfeld spritzes different scents on his curtains, slipcovers, plus everything he wears. And he is known to douse each bath with a full bottle of fragranced bath oil. Lagerfeld even concocts his own scents with existing fragrances. “I do strange mixes,” he said, adding, “There is no gender in perfumes anymore.”

“We didn’t want to come out with a men’s fragrance or a women’s fragrance; we needed to break the codes, break the rules,” added Françoise Mariez, senior vice president of marketing for European licenses of Coty Prestige, whose parent company, Coty, acquired the Karl Lagerfeld fragrance license in 2005, when it purchased the Unilever Cosmetics International business.

Kapsule marks the first Lagerfeld-Coty project. “I must say Coty really did a great job,” said Lagerfeld. “They have a modern spirit, are the biggest perfume company in the world, and they want things to be a success. It is a company of many brands. And I think it’s quite interesting. It is like a tree with many fruits.”

Lagerfeld explained the “k” in Kapsule comes from his first name.

“Lots of people are doing three fragrances, but only at an expensive price, as a limited edition,” continued Mariez. “Here, the idea was to say we will propose a capsule wardrobe of fragrances that you very simply take and wear whenever you want, but at a price that is in line with the market. On the one hand, it is highly selective, qualitative, with good taste and elegant, but it is affordable.”

Lagerfeld himself was involved in each step of Kapsule’s developmental process, which took only about nine months. Interested in style rather than gender, the designer set out to conceive fragrances for all. Each one falls in a different major fragrance family. Light, by Symrise perfumer Mark Buxton, includes notes of bitter orange, jasmine, nutmeg, clove and musk. The Floriental scent was concocted by Symrise’s Emilie Coppermann with ivy leaf, violet and black tea leaf notes. Woody, meanwhile, was created by Firmenich’s Olivier Cresp and is made up of cedar, moss and plum notes.

Kapsule’s fragrance bottle design, conceived with Luz Herrmann, embodies Lagerfeld’s love of geometry. “There’s the square and the circle, my two favorite things in geometric patterns,” he said, referring to the linear bottle and its round label. Lagerfeld’s signature is etched on the bottom of each flacon, which has a different hue according to the scent it contains.

“I love colored glass,” he said.

“The difficult challenge we had was to create something neither too feminine nor too masculine,” added Mariez. Kapsule’s fragrance boxes are reminiscent of books.

“We said: ‘How can people get in one second that there are three different fragrances?'” said Mariez. “He had the idea of calling it volume one, two and three.”

“I like the idea that [the boxes] look like slipcases with books,” Lagerfeld said.

The advertising visual for Kapsule, which comes primarily as a single page, features Lagerfeld (who took the photograph) and his new fragrances.

“They wanted me in it; I never proposed myself,” said Lagerfeld of the Coty executives.

“He asked for two pieces of frosted glass because that is like the ambience in his new apartment. I like the photograph because it expresses the concept. It’s a nod to the fashion world,” said Mariez, explaining that the image reminds her of a designer looking out from behind a curtain to see how his fashion show is progressing. In this case, however, Lagerfeld is eyeing his fragrances, she explained.

Lagerfeld said he feels an affinity for his new fragrance project.

“This has my taste — or absence of my taste,” he laughs. “The most important thing is that it has a special taste.”

The scents will be launched first at the end of October in France, with exclusives at Colette and Parfumeries Marionnaud. Then, in November, they are to be introduced in Germany and other German-speaking countries, travel retail, European export, and the U.S., where Kapsule is to be carried exclusively in Neiman Marcus through March. Its debut in Australia is set for spring and China is to get the collection by September 2009 at the latest.

While Coty executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate Kapsule will generate $48 million at retail in its first seven months.

Each iteration of the fragrance is to come as a 30-ml. eau de toilette spray for 37 euros, or $59 at current exchange, and a 75-ml. edt spray for 68 euros, or $108. Prices are for Europe.

At present, the best-selling Lagerfeld scent is Karl Lagerfeld Classic, launched in 1978. It ranks in the top 15 in Germany, according to Mariez. Other fragrances from the brand include Jakko, Lagerfeld Photo and Sun Moon Stars.