By  on June 13, 2008

PARIS — Lancôme is out to make an audacious statement with its new women's fragrance, called Magnifique, due out this September in 165 countries worldwide.

Its launch marks the first simultaneous global introduction of a Lancôme scent and comes 18 years after the introduction of Trésor, the iconic fragrance by the L'Oréal-owned brand that still ranks among the top-10 women's fragrances internationally.

Lancôme is fourth overall in the category. But it could rank even higher if Magnifique (French for "magnificent") does as well as expected. Lancôme executives would not reveal projections, but industry sources estimate the fragrance will generate $200 million in retail sales worldwide during its first year, with the U.S. representing one quarter of that figure. While building a new classic scent, Lancôme executives say they aim to reinvent "haute parfumerie," translated as the high-end fragrance business.

"We want a new mythical fragrance," said Odile Roujol, president of Lancôme International.

For Magnifique's face, she had in mind only one woman, actress Anne Hathaway. Roujol said while watching her in "The Devil Wears Prada," Roujol thought, "Anne was very flamboyant. She was very fresh and charming, but at the same time, Anne was very sexy and glamorous."

When Roujol met Hathaway to discuss the Magnifique project, the deal was quickly sealed for numerous reasons, including the actress' affinity for all things Lancôme. As it turns out, Hathaway as a 13-year-old used to use her mother's Lancôme Benefit and Defenicils products. Hathaway also adores the color red, which runs throughout Magnifique's mix.

"We wanted to make a declaration, a statement. Red is the color of passion," said Roujol, adding the hue is flamboyant and a symbol of energy. "For me, Lancôme was always about women who celebrate life to the fullest," said Hathaway, adding she feels it to be a brand that understands women, their emotions and wishes.

So how does she view being Magnifique's face?

"French femininity embodied by an American is a good feeling," she said. Magnifique's faceted ruby-colored bottle was created by H5 graphics agency, and the scent's similarly hued outer packaging gives a hologram effect.The fragrance's spicy floral woody juice, meant to be an olfactive interpretation of red, was created by Firmenich's Olivier Cresp and Jacques Cavallier.

"The challenge was to work on wood [notes]," said Cresp, explaining the women's fragrance market has few woody juices. While he and Cavallier were in India they came upon nagarmota, a plant giving off a woody odor. They liked it so much, they opted to use nagarmota essential oil in Magnifique.

"As far as I know, it's never been used before in feminine fragrance," said Cavallier.

The perfumers also used saffron essence, a cumin note, Bulgarian rose essence, Mai de Grasse rose absolute, jasmine, Australian sandalwood essence and a vetiver note.
"Lancôme doesn't have any woody fragrances," said Pauline Zanoni, Lancôme International olfactive creation director. "I think this completes the Lancôme portfolio."

"It gives some more impertinence," said Cresp.

"With a French touch," added Cavallier.

Indeed France — and Paris, particularly — is the backdrop for Magnifique's advertisement, lensed by Peter Lindbergh. John Mathieson was its photographic director and Tho Van Tran, of Air agency, its artistic director.

In the spot, Hathaway leaves a film set and applies Magnifique before entering a party. She catches the eye of a handsome man, model Roman Seefeldt, and runs upstairs. He follows her, picks up the scent flacon she's left on the stairs and enters a secluded room with a view of Paris' rooftops. The spot ends with him kissing her hand. There is also a print campaign including single and double pages plus gatefolds. The ad's tag line is: "You are unique, you are Magnifique."

The Magnifique lineup will include a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum spray for $65, a 2.5-oz. edp spray for $85, a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $46 and a 6.7-oz. shower gel for $46.

Magnifique's launch will take place worldwide in September, save for the U.S., where the fragrance is to be introduced in Bloomingdale's in August before being rolled out to Lancôme's other doors countrywide.

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