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Vera Wang is setting her sights on additional fragrance business with Vera Wang Look, which she is touting as the third pillar of her scent business with Coty. Set to launch in November in 500 U.S. specialty store doors, the new women’s scent could do upward of $35 million in global retail sales in its first year, according to industry sources.
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Vera Wang’s got a whole new look for fall — and she’s not just talking about her fashion.
That’s when the designer will launch her latest fragrance, called Look, which she is billing as the third pillar of her fragrance business. Shortly thereafter, Wang will open her first freestanding store for her ready-to-wear collection at 158 Mercer Street in New York’s SoHo.
“There is a real connection to design with Look, with the style and the mood,” said Wang in an exclusive phone interview from Los Angeles, where she was shooting ads for her Simply Vera Vera Wang diffusion line for Kohl’s. “It’s really about building on the fashion aspect of my business — it represents that desire and that energy. Look also has a bit of confidence to it, from both visual and olfactory viewpoints.”
By contrast, Wang’s first eponymous fragrance, launched in 2002, was built on a bridal platform, while Princess, launched in 2006, was designed for a youthful consumer. Flankers to both have also been introduced. “Look is Princess’ sophisticated older sister — but it isn’t about an age. It’s about a confidence level,” said Wang. “It’s also making the statement that we are now a fashion house which does bridal, rather than a bridal house that does fashion. And we’re not about a skintight evening dress; we’re more artsy.”
“Vera is known for easy elegance, and that is a platform for her ready-to-wear collections,” said Laura Lee Miller, president of Vera Wang Licensing. “Now it will also be a basis for her newest fragrance collection, Look. It’s really all about Vera’s passion for fashion, and the concept of luxe layers that all come together to create a richly textured product.”
There’s also a connection to the store: “The space on Mercer has a series of translucent screens that come down — you look through them and they add an air of mystery,” said Wang. “The ad expresses that — a prism through which the model is viewing the world.” In fact, the fragrance and the store were initially intended to premiere together. “The store’s running late, so we’re launching the fragrance first,” said Wang with a wry laugh. “It will preannounce our Mercer space.”
The fragrance, created in partnership with Firmenich, has top notes of mandarin, watery greens, lychee and Golden Delicious apple; a heart of lily, freesia and jasmine, and a drydown of vanilla, skin musk, oakmoss and patchouli.
The outer carton reflects the artsy feel Wang is aiming for: Constructed of matte gray paper, it includes a lighter gray outline of the bottle that appears to be painted on the carton, with the Look name in the center in bright orange.
The collection includes eaux de parfum sprays in three sizes — 1 oz. for $45, 1.7 oz. for $70 and 3.4 oz. for $90 — as well as three 6.8-oz. ancillaries: body lotion, $50; body crème, $85, and a shower crème, $45. The brand also plans to do a concentrated “elixir” form of the fragrance, which will retail for $300 for 1 oz. and will be available in specialty store distribution.
And there’s a specific reason for that: “We see this scent as a specialty store item first and foremost,” said Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of American fragrances for Coty Prestige, which holds the Vera Wang Fragrances license, adding that Wang’s fragrance sales tripled after Coty released Princess in 2006. “We wanted it to be luxurious, prestigious and modern.”
Look will enter 500 specialty stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus in the U.S. in early November. In spring 2009, the scent will enter global distribution — about 25 countries are slated — and additional U.S. doors. When the U.S. rollout is complete, Look will be in about 1,200 doors in the U.S.
Advertising, shot by Steven Meisel, will break in November fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. Coty is aiming for 14 million scented impressions, and will also distribute upward of 2.5 million samples.
Executives declined to discuss sales projections or advertising spending. Industry sources estimated that the scent would do $35 million at retail globally in its first year, with about half of that business to come from the U.S. The U.S. advertising and promotional budget was estimated by industry sources at $5 million.
Wang also showed her resort rtw collections for Vera Wang Signature and Vera Wang Lavender Label recently, and admits it wasn’t the most comfortable of situations. “Our air conditioning broke down during the hottest days of the heat wave, and we were lying on the floor in the showroom trying not to faint at times — it was out for four days,” she said. “I felt especially awful for our sewers. Even if you put fans everywhere in heat like that, it doesn’t help much.” And that’s not the only thing that was uncomfortable: “With the spring and fall ready-to-wear shows, you have to wait for reviews, and that’s bad enough,” she said. “With resort, you’re actually sitting in the showroom with the journalists, and you try to gauge their reactions. That’s hell.”�