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The Sweet Life Inspires Zegna Scent

Zegna Colonia could be Zegna’s biggest scent and might register upward of $40 million in first-year sales.

MILAN — La dolce vita (or the sweet life, in English) is not only the title of a film, but also a hedonistic concept considered the equivalent of Nirvana in Italy.

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

It is this way of life that inspired Ermenegildo Zegna to create its fourth scent, Zegna Colonia, due to be launched in the July to August time frame worldwide, including at 2,500 specialty and department store doors in the U.S., as well as Zegna’s 13 boutiques there.

According to industry sources, Zegna Colonia could be Zegna’s biggest scent and might register upward of $40 million in first-year sales, with $20 million to $25 million of that coming from the U.S.

At a recent cocktail party to fete the fragrance at Zegna’s headquarters here, Anna Zegna, image director for the brand, said Zegna Colonia’s premise, la dolce vita, is especially resonant today. “La dolce vita is a state of mind,” she said, adding “It’s a harmonious way of living, an authentic atmosphere of culture, and also sensuality, it’s a joie de vivre, which is typically Italian.”

Zegna also noted the scent recalled memories of her grandfather, Ermenegildo Zegna, who founded the Italian fashion company in 1910.

“My grandfather was a serious, polite man and he used to carry enormous handmade handkerchiefs of linen. Every time he took it out of his pocket a perfume would fill the air,” Zegna said. “And this scent evokes that feeling. It represents pure dolce vita to me.”

Fragrance licensee YSL Beauté, which is owned by L’Oréal, has positioned Zegna Colonia as the backbone of the Zegna fragrance brand.

Richard Pinabel, general manager worldwide for Zegna fragrances at YSL Beauté, described the scent as “a pillar fragrance for the years ahead.” He said the scent summed up the ethos of the firm: “It’s very emblematic of the Zegna style, and it embodies the Zegna man.”

For Zegna Colonia’s launch, the firm will focus its attention on the U.S. market.

“For the U.S. market, it’s the perfect fragrance, superfresh and sophisticated,” Pinabel said, “and the advertising really looks like Italian dolce vita — and who doesn’t want to be part of that?”

During an interview Monday in New York, Pinabel said, “The U.S. is a very important market for us. We feel we can build a strong business in the U.S.”

Leslie Marino, general manager of the designer fragrances unit of L’Oréal USA’s luxury products division, noted this is the first initiative between L’Oréal USA and the Zegna brand since L’Oréal acquired YSL Beauté in the first half of 2008.

During a press event at Zegna’s boutique in New York Tuesday night to unveil the scent, Carol Hamilton, president of the luxury products division, noted this was particularly important first for the company because “We admire the brand — it’s a great, classic and quality brand. We love that it’s still run by the family and to collaborate with them is inspiring.”

Said Zegna, “Together, we will have a long-term vision.”

“It’s a big men’s launch for us during the second half,” Marino asserted. “We have very big plans for the launch.” She cited a national advertising campaign, comprised of 25 million scented pieces that will break in September issues of men’s fashion, lifestyle and travel magazines.

As part of a complementary promotional campaign, vials on card will be distributed in stores, according to Rebecca Masson, vice president of marketing for the European designer fragrances unit of L’Oréal USA’s luxury products division, and direct mail will also be part of the campaign.

Industry sources estimate the advertising and promotional effort could be worth upward of $12 million.

The scent was blended by Givaudan, whose perfumers Antoine Lie and Daniela Andrier were inspired by an old image of Italian actor Vittorio Gassman smiling. The scent includes bergamot from Sicily, neroli from Tunisia, iris from Florence, and cardamom from Guatemala.

The scent, an eau de toilette, will be available in two sizes, a 2.6-oz. version for $50 and a 4.2-oz. bottle for $70. In a nod to the brand’s heritage, linen fiber is a key ingredient in Zegna Colonia’s ancillary line of aftershave lotion, $44; hair and body wash, $24, and deodorant, $20.

“My favorite part of this project is the way the [perfumers] used extract of linen in the scent’s accompanying products, it reflects who we are as a brand, the Zegna spirit,” Zegna remarked.

Topped with a brushed metal cap, Zegna Colonia’s elliptically shaped, clear glass flacon, which was designed by Fabien Baron, bares fine white stripes recalling sartorial pinstripe fabrics — a signature of the classic men’s suiting brand.