To Oscar de la Renta, fragrance is not much different from fashion. Now, with Essential Luxuries, a new sextet of women’s scents launching in September, he has created a collection which references his most loved people, places and things.
Why six, as opposed to one? “We don’t change the way we look on a daily basis, but we may want to change the way we smell,” said de la Renta during an exclusive interview at his Manhattan offices this week. “A woman now wants to represent herself in many different ways, at different times. There is a world that is wide open to women, with a lot of choices. I no longer think a woman is married to one fragrance.”
Over the years, the charismatic designer’s name has certainly had staying power in the beauty space as well as the fashion space. De la Renta’s original women’s scent, Oscar, was launched in 1977 and is considered an American classic. Over the years, his fragrance license has been held by a series of licensees, culminating in a court fight with L’Oréal, and an arbitration, which de la Renta won. He and Alexander Bolen, chief executive officer at Oscar de la Renta, took the license back in house and immediately set out to reinforce the brand’s high-end luxury positioning.
In 2011, de la Renta made his reentry into the business prior to Mother’s Day with the introduction of an updated eau de parfum version of his Oscar scent called Esprit d’Oscar Eau de Parfum. “We’ve been very pleased with our progress,” said Bolen. “Our intention with this is to continue the rehabilitation and elevation of our [beauty] brand, which had lost its way a little bit over the last decade or so. It’s a very personal collection that tells the consumer not only are we a prestigious fragrance house, but what that means. Who better to tell that story than Oscar?”
Each of the Essential Luxuries fragrances have important meanings to de la Renta. Santo Domingo, a tabac-based scent named for the designer’s birthplace in the Dominican Republic, opens with citrus notes, which blend into notes of sweet and spicy mandarin, coriander, patchouli and tobacco.
Granada, inspired by the gardens of the Alhambra in Spain, is what the designer calls a romantic citrus floral, with key notes of bigarade and bergamot, supported by jasmine, orange and rose. “It’s a magical place that has great romantic memories for me,” de la Renta said, adding that he proposed marriage to his wife there privately, after the gardens were closed for the day. The neck of the fragrance bottles have a intertwined symbol which is based on a tile at the Alhambra, he added, and it is used throughout the de la Renta design universe.
Oriental Lace, a dark oriental with gourmand elements, references his ready-to-wear collection. It has notes of hoya carnosa, a chocolate-scented vine which de la Renta grows in his Punta Cana home, as well as honey, bitter almond, dark cacao, clove and patchouli notes.
Mi Corazon, inspired by the designer’s daughter Eliza (the company’s creative director of licensing) and their shared love of ylang ylang, is a floral juice with a lush accord of tuberose, hand-picked ylang ylang and peach.
Sargasso, named for the deep blue-green sea surrounding the beach of the designer’s Punta Cana home, has juniper, lemon and cucumber notes, referencing the beachy scent of the abundant marine vegetation which washes up on his beach there. “You can extract a lot of different, really good things out of it,” he said, suggesting it could form the base of a future skin-care line.
Coralina is a ladylike floral named for a coral-colored stone indigenous to the Dominican Republic, which is used in abundance in the designer’s home there and in his boutiques. It is a blend of violet, mimosa and orris, with woody green notes.
All six were concocted by Givaudan’s Calice Becker working with de la Renta. A digital quiz, Scent Stylist, is intended to lead consumers to their perfect de la Renta scent match.
Each scent will retail for $150 for 3.4-oz. bottles. All are eaux de parfum except Sargasso, which is an eau de cologne. The scents, which will launch on Sept. 6 at Fashion’s Night Out, will be exclusive to Saks Fifth Avenue’s Fifth Avenue flagship, saks.com, Oscar de la Renta boutiques and oscardelarenta.com to start.
“We want to launch a truly prestige product and we want to launch it in important wholesale accounts around the world, but not a broad distribution,” said Bolen, adding that additional scents are likely to join the collection going forward. It will enter additional Saks doors next year. “This is by design a niche product,” said Bolen.
While executives declined comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that the collection could do between $500,000 and $1 million at retail in its first year on counter.
Eventually, Bolen and de la Renta plan to branch out into additional beauty categories. “We have a little nail lacquer experiment right now,” said Bolen of the limited-edition collection of three shades — which were shown on models at de la Renta’s rtw show in February — with Who What Wear, a fashion Web site and blog.
“It’s a way for us to really see how customers think of the Oscar de la Renta name in beauty products,” said Bolen. “We think color is a natural — Oscar is so known for his use of color. I expect that for the runway in September that we will have more shades, as well as some lip shades. The great thing about the digital world is that it does allow for some experimentation, if one is not afraid to have something not work out. I think that a full color cosmetics line is complicated, but the idea of lip and nail is tremendously appealing. It’s a competitive world, but it seems to us a logical fit for our brand.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)