My Burberry Scent Nods to Iconic Trench

In its quest to become a top-10 player in the luxury beauty arena, the brand is set for its biggest launch yet.

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LONDON — In its quest to become a top-10 player in the luxury beauty arena, Burberry is set for its biggest launch yet: a fragrance inspired by the brand’s trenchcoat — and by the scent of a London garden after a rain shower.

This story first appeared in the June 6, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

My Burberry, a grand floral that will sit at the center of the brand’s fragrance family, will launch in early September. The ad campaign, shot by Mario Testino, features Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne, reflecting the Britishness of the new scent and the range of women Burberry is targeting.

Last year, the company pulled its beauty business in-house after terminating its license with Inter Parfums — an exercise that cost Burberry 181 million euros, or $233.1 million, exclusive of receivables, inventories and other assets. The fashion firm set up an in-house beauty division in a bid to play alongside the likes of Chanel and Christian Dior.

With My Burberry — the third new fragrance launch from the new division — Burberry plans to shift its beauty business into high gear. The company said it views the fragrance as a long-term generator of sales and profits.

“The development of Burberry’s beauty division is a key driver for the growth of the business as a whole,” said Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer, who in May took up the additional role of chief executive officer. “Within our overall beauty plans, fragrance will play a leading role in driving revenue and raising brand awareness. The launch of My Burberry marks the next important step in our development. It is our iconic trenchcoat fragrance. Because My Burberry is the first and only fragrance to draw its inspiration so directly from the Burberry trench, it has to be the true embodiment of our brand — in scent, in design and in attitude.”

Burberry estimates its beauty wholesale revenues are set to grow by 25 percent at constant exchange rates in the current 2014-15 year, while the company is targeting “midteens” percentage growth for the fragrance business alone for the 2015-16 year.

In its first full year of direct operation, the beauty division kicked in 144 million pounds, or $236 million, to overall Burberry sales, driven by the launch of the Brit Rhythm for men and women fragrances over the past year.

In the spring, during a megaevent in Shanghai, Bailey described the My Burberry fragrance as “a trenchcoat in a bottle,” and that should come as no surprise. Not only is that coat synonymous with the Burberry brand, but it has been one of the major drivers of company’s growth quarter after quarter.

Burberry has high expectations for the launch: Industry sources estimate the fragrance will generate 40 million to 50 million pounds, or $67 million to $84 million at current exchange, in first-year wholesale revenues worldwide.

Last month, the company’s chief operating officer, John Smith, revealed plans for Burberry to move into luxury skin care, and said the company was seeking “expert” partners to help develop it. In addition, the fashion firm plans a big push into travel retail as well as the rollout of a second Beauty Box retail concept in Asia in 2015.

Product development is under way in makeup, while parts of the Beauty Box retail concept — the brand’s first bijou store selling beauty only opened in Covent Garden last year — will likely be adapted both for beauty counters and travel retail. Smith pointed to Burberry’s growing footprint in the fragrance category, and said that success in the makeup and skin-care sectors — where the brand has zero penetration — “is a prize worth pursuing.”

During an interview here, Simona Cattaneo, senior vice-president of beauty at Burberry, said the company wants My Burberry to become “our iconic fragrance,” and added that the new juice is also meant to embody Burberry’s sense of craftsmanship, heritage and creativity.

“The Burberry trench is something very personal. You can wear it many different ways, to different places and occasions. There is an emotional link to the trench, and we would like the same link with this fragrance,” she said. Cattaneo described the fragrance as having a floral bouquet with a contemporary twist and peppery edge.

Burberry worked with the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian on the fragrance, which has top notes of sweet pea and bergamot fused with a geranium, golden quince and freesia heart. The scent is rounded with a base of patchouli and damask and centifolia roses.

Kurkdjian said the new juice was inspired “by London, an urban garden. You have the vibrancy of the city, so it is something contemporary. You have the garden. You have the flowers…and the art of gardening, which is very important for the British. The flowery aspect of the perfume comes from that idea of the garden after the rain. You have the lush wetness. You have the soil. You have the earthiness. All of these feelings.”

As for his choice of notes, he said he wanted to evoke “the feeling of the light of London: clouds, wetness, rain, flowers.” He said the main flowers are roses and freesia, “which is a little bit spicy and adds brightness. Then geranium leaves, which give an herbal, almost minty, vibrancy to the perfume. Then from the back note, there are patchouli leaves and quince — a fruit that is between a pear and an apple. Very British. It is not fruity, fruity. It is fruity floral. Then on top you have linen and bergamot,” he said.

The squat glass bottle has a horn-finished cap, reminiscent of the buttons on a trench, while the liquid has a gold undertone, similar to the honey color of the traditional coat, while My Burberry is written as if it were a signature.

Each bottle has a hand-tied gabardine bow, made from the same fabric as the coat and woven at Burberry’s factory in Castleford, Yorkshire. The eau de parfum ranges in price from $72 for a 30-ml. bottle, to $2,800 for a supersized 900-ml. one. There is also a 50-ml. bottle for $95, and a 90-ml. one for $125. Other products include a 240-ml. shower oil priced at $60; a 100-ml. moisturizing body mist for $42; a 100-ml. deodorant for $38, and a set of three bathing soaps for $48.

The launch will be accompanied by a capsule collection of clothing and accessories, echoing the strategies for Burberry Brit for men and women. Although Cattaneo declined to give details about the collection, she said there will also be color cosmetics tie-ins, centering on an “effortless” look with nude-based colors meant to give a natural glow.

The scent will launch at Burberry stores and the brand’s Beauty Box in Covent Garden. In North America, top retail partners include Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Hudson’s Bay and Holt Renfrew. In Europe, they include Sephora, Nocibé, Printemps, Douglas, Selfridges, Boots, Debenhams and House of Fraser.

The ad campaign will include print, TV and outdoor, with a “strong accent” on digital, according to Cattaneo. Digital teasers will be released at the end of August on social media.

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