Maison Martin Margiela Scent to Launch Stateside

Fashion house's first fragrance, Untitled, is coming to the U.S. for a yearlong exclusive at Saks Fifth Avenue.

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WWDStyle issue 03/04/2011

After a warm-up in Europe, Maison Martin Margiela is ready to take on the U.S. fragrance market with the house’s first scent.

This story first appeared in the March 4, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Launching in April, the scent — like the house’s founder — aims to break the norms of a traditional launch: the juice’s name is Untitled, it’s a women’s fragrance that, with its astringent green notes, could easily be mistaken for a men’s launch, and its understated bottle has a generous helping of the designer’s signature white.

“This is a very important launch for us,” said Renaud de Lesquen, president of Maison Martin Margiela Fragrances at L’Oréal, the house’s fragrance license. “The unique nature of this scent — it is a very different juice — has the capacity to build loyalty. It is so unusual that it is difficult to move on to another scent. We are excited about entering the American market with this scent, especially as it is a large and very competitive market.”

Untitled launched in select European markets — France, Belgium, the U.K. and Italy, for a total of about 350 doors globally) in March 2010. “We have had tremendous success in Europe with the fragrance. It was number one at Selfridges for many months and has also achieved strong sales in its other markets,” said de Lesquen.

The woody green floral, concocted by Givaudan’s Daniela Andrier, has top notes of galbanum essence and orange blossom absolute; a heart of lentiscus, jasmine and galbanum resinoid and a drydown of incense and musk.

Marc Rey, president of International Designer Collections at L’Oréal USA, noted the scent will launch first in Saks Fifth Avenue. “This is a scent with a very strong identity, and it is very much about the in-store experience,” he said, noting the brand will use a number of nontraditional sampling vehicles, including ostrich feathers. More traditional sampling, such as deluxe miniatures and vials on cards, also will be used. “Saks Fifth Avenue understands the artisanal nature of this project, and their clientele is extremely sophisticated. That is the market we are reaching for with this fragrance.” While it is likely business will expand after Saks’ yearlong exclusive, the fragrance will always remain very selective, said Sejal Shah, vice president of marketing for European Designer Fragrances at L’Oréal USA.

While executives declined comment on sales projections, industry sources estimated the scent would do around $3 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter.

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