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Noir Note

Ralph Lauren found inspiration for his new women's fragrance, Notorious, in the film noir classics of Alfred Hitchcock and other Hollywood greats.

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Ralph Lauren found inspiration for his new women's fragrance, Notorious, in the film noir classics of Alfred Hitchcock and other Hollywood greats.

George Chinsee

Ralph Lauren found inspiration for his new women’s fragrance, Notorious, in the film noir classics of Alfred Hitchcock and other Hollywood greats. The fall launch will mark the 10th anniversary of Lauren’s top-selling Romance women’s scent, and L’Oréal USA, the designer’s beauty licensee, hopes the new addition will be just as great a star.

Ralph Lauren is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his top-selling women’s fragrance, Romance, by indulging his love of Hollywood classics while reaching for a little bit of noir magic.

His fragrance licensee, L’Oréal USA, will launch Notorious this fall with hopes that the new women’s scent will land into the top-10 rankings, alongside Romance, the stalwart of the franchise.

“This represents our next big step in the evolution of Ralph Lauren fragrances,” said Leslie Marino, general manager of L’Oréal Designer Fragrances Division. “We’re focused on cultivating our luxury prestige positioning. Our goals are to elevate the equity of the brand and establish our second fragrance in the top rankings.”

Marino cited The NPD Group’s April rankings, which showed Romance in the fifth spot in the women’s category. The perceived significance of the launch is reflected in the sales expectations that have been a subject of speculation in the market. While L’Oréal does not break out sales projections or advertising budgets, industry sources estimated that Notorious could bring in an estimated $100 million in retail sales from a worldwide rollout to 120 countries.

With about $20 million reportedly earmarked for advertising and promotions, Notorious could generate $50 million in first-year retail sales in the U.S. alone.

Notorious marks the first launch under an entirely new management team at Ralph Lauren Fragrance, including Marino and Guillaume de Lesquen, president, worldwide, of the Ralph Lauren Fragrances Division of L’Oréal.

“For me the Ralph Lauren world is about something iconic from the past that he’s able to reinvent in a modern way,” said de Lesquen. “This new fragrance is all about this concept of neoclassic in the way in which he’s able to mix classic codes and modern references.”

In describing the habits of the target customer, Chris Stadler, vice president of U.S. marketing for Ralph Lauren Fragrances, added, “She’s someone who mixes Ralph Lauren vintage pieces with black label dresses and collection pieces.”

To re-create that sense of “Old Hollywood glamour,” the company was inspired by actresses like Faye Dunaway in “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Chinatown,” Lauren Bacall in “The Big Sleep” and Ingrid Bergman in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller “Notorious.”

Executives feel that Notorious will complement the brands fragrance portfolio since it has different positioning to Romance. Marino sees the launch as an opportunity to attract a new customer and grow the women’s fragrance business.

“We’ve made sure everything is different — from the packaging to the olfactive formulation since Romance is a classic floral and this is the first time we’re coming to market with an oriental fragrance,” said Marino.

Created by Olivier Gillotin of Givaudan, Notorious is a “sparkling spiced oriental” fragrance composed of top notes of black currant, spicy pink peppercorn and Italian bergamot; middle notes of chocolate cosmos, white frost peonies and carnation, and bottom notes of patchouli musk, vanilla and orris.

Notorious will make its debut in August exclusively with Bloomingdale’s, although the product will appear on counter early in July. The Bloomingdale’s launch will be followed by a full rollout to about 3,500 doors such as Belk, Dillard’s, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora.

Notorious’ bottle was inspired by Art Deco style, while the black crocodile packaging resembles Ralph Lauren’s Ricky bags from his fall collection.

Notorious eau de parfum spray will be available in two sizes, a 2.6-oz. version for $85 and a 1.7-oz. size for $65. Three ancillaries will also be available: a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $45, a 6.7-oz. shower gel for $40 and a 5.3-oz. body crème for $70.

To capture this element of cinematic glamour, the company tapped French model and actress Laetitia Casta as the face of Notorious. Print ads were shot by Michael Thompson, but details on the TV spot were unavailable.

“Laetitia has this new femininity which is still very sophisticated and elegant, but much more sexy and mysterious,” said de Lesquen.

Starting in September, Casta will appear in print, TV and outdoor advertisements. The company also has plans to distribute 100 million scented impressions. Casta is a fan of the fragrance: “It’s so mysterious and I love the pepper smell.”

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