Men’s Scent a Building Block for Versace

Donatella Versace is ready to unleash her signature Versace man.

MILAN — Donatella Versace is ready to unleash her signature Versace man.

This story first appeared in the January 18, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After the launch of a women’s scent called simply Versace last year, the fashion house will follow up with its male counterpart, Versace Pour Homme, which will first hit Italian counters in April and the rest of Europe in May.

During men’s fashion week here, Versace feted the new fragrance with a dinner party on Saturday evening at the family’s palazzo in the city’s center for 200 fashion editors, buyers, friends and family — including Beyoncé Knowles, Jay-Z and Kelly Rowland. After dinner, guests moved downstairs to party in Gianni Versace’s former private residence.

In an interview with a group of journalists the following day, Versace talked about the scent’s message.

“[The fragrance] represents a strong, sensual man with determination,” the designer said. “It represents exactly where men stand in our society today and where women want men to stand.”

Versace noted she went back to her Mediterranean roots to collaborate with nose Alberto Morillas of Firmenich to blend Versace Pour Homme, selecting notes of amber, sandalwood and neroli.

“When I smell the scent, it reminds me of my father because my father wore neroli,” said Versace, adding, “I wanted to make it different and be very precise, I didn’t want to mix too many smells. Today there are too many components in fragrances on the market — for this I wanted it to have a strong essence.”

The new fragrance has become a favorite of Versace’s 17-year-old son, Daniel Beck. “I asked him to wear it and he loves it,” said Versace.

The scent is the first Versace men’s fragrance developed entirely by Euroitalia, which acquired the Versace fragrance business in late 2004, and it is being launched on the heels of a remodeling of the fashion house’s men’s wear line.

“We are focused on everything around men as a company right now so it is the right moment to launch a men’s fragrance for us,” said Versace.

Plans call for the scent to be launched in the U.S. in August. While launch details have not been finalized, executives at Fragrances Elite International LLC, which handles the Versace fragrance business in the U.S., anticipate either a short, exclusive introduction with one retailer or a simultaneous launch with numerous retailers.

Industry sources estimate that, globally, Versace Pour Homme could generate first-year retail sales of roughly $100 million. Sources added that in the U.S., the scent could generate retail sales of $10 million in the same period.

The U.S. is estimated to account for about 10 to 12 percent of Versace’s worldwide fragrance business and the brand’s fragrances are carried in 1,100 doors there. Total retail sales of Versace scents in the U.S. are projected by sources to grow to $45 million to $50 million by the end of 2009.

It is estimated Versace’s signature women’s scent, which was launched in the U.S. in May exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue, has so far exceeded $2 million in retail sales. It is now being rolled out to other retailers in the U.S., including Nordstrom.

While details of a U.S.-based advertising and promotional effort — which could be worth $4 million to $5 million — for the new men’s scent are still being discussed, some six million scented strips could appear as part of an ad campaign slated for magazines like GQ, Esquire, Details, Vanity Fair and New York. Also, one million sample units, including deluxe samples, may be distributed.

Mario Testino photographed a print visual and directed the TV advertisement for the fragrance, which features models Michael Gstoettner and Edita Vilkeviciute in an apartment in New York. During the interview, Versace introduced Austrian-born Gstoettner, who also works as a fireman. “The idea that he is a fireman is really attractive — we all want to be saved by Michael,” she joked.

Designed in-house at Versace, the clear glass bottle’s profile reveals facets cut similar to a diamond and it is studded with a round silver plaque tooled with the fashion house’s emblems of the Medusa head and the Greek fret motif.

An aromatic fougère, Versace Pour Homme features top notes of bergamot, neroli, bitter orange leaves and citron of diamante, a large fruit found in southern Italy; middle notes of geranium, clary sage, blue hycinth and cedarwood, and drydown notes of oud wood, mineral amber, tonka beans and musk.

The eau de toilette collection includes a 50-ml. version of the scent for $55 and a 100-ml. size for $72. Prices are for the U.S. There’s also an aftershave lotion ($55) and an aftershave balm ($40), both of which are 100 ml., as well as deodorant stick ($22 for 75 ml.) and hair and body shampoo ($32 for 250 ml.).