Versace Plots Ambitious Launch for Vanitas Scent

Vanitas was designed to occupy the top-rung or couture position in the Versace fragrance hierarchy.

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CANNES, France — Euroitalia will attempt its most ambitious project yet in its nearly six-year licensing relationship with Versace when the Italy-based fragrance house launches Vanitas starting next month.

This story first appeared in the October 22, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The women’s fragrance was designed to occupy the top-rung or couture position in the Versace fragrance hierarchy. Its price points are 20 to 30 percent higher than the brand’s other scents, and Vanitas will be aimed at a specialty store distribution, namely Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, when the brand eventually arrives in the U.S., probably in the second half of 2012.

Vanitas Versace will be available in three sizes, a 30-ml. eau de parfum for 55.50 euros, or $77.22 at current exchange; 50-ml. for 75 euros, or $104.35, and 100-ml. for 98 euros, or $136.36. Ancillary bath products will accompany the launch. They comprise 200-ml. bottles of bath and shower gel for 37.50 euros, or $52.18, and body lotion for 43.50 euros, or $60.53.

The Italian fashion house worked with perfumer Dora Baghriche Arnaud from Firmenich to create the new scent that blends Italian Mediterranean elements such as zesty citrus with a sensual sultry base. Energetic top notes of lime and freesia are blended with a rich floral heart of the tiare flower — a Tahitian type of gardenia — and rich undertones of tonka bean and cedarwood.

Giovanni Sgariboldi, president of Euroitalia, said Vanitas has “a huge potential” following the company’s work in revitalizing the Versace franchise with the launch of six men’s and women’s fragrances in nearly as many years.

“This should be the top,” he said during an exclusive interview at his company’s stand at the Tax Free World Association’s show here this week. “The object is to make this the most important line for us.”

He declined to cite numbers. Industry sources estimate Vanitas could generate more than 30 million euros, or $41.7 million, in first-year wholesale revenues following its U.S. launch. An estimated 10 million euros, or $13.9 million, has been reportedly earmarked for the worldwide advertising push.

A print ad and TV commercial was produced by Fabien Baron and photographer Craig McDean in New York. The campaign features model of the moment Lindsey Wixson.

Sgariboldi said the name Vanitas is a classic term that was used by the late Gianni Versace. Literally meaning vanity, it loosely refers to “the quality every woman has to have to be a woman — the sensual and the feminine touch,” he said.

The curved corner of the transparent bottle is meant to suggest the bare shoulder of a woman. In the ad, Wixson wears an off-the-shoulder Versace dress in an effort to complete the idea. Executives at the company pointed out it is unusual and difficult to produce a bottle with metal components attached to glass.

Sgariboldi said that the fragrance would be launched in Italy in November with ad support in print and on TV and the Web. It’s then due to roll out in the rest of Europe starting in Austria and Switzerland.

Sgariboldi estimates Vanitas will probably be the most expensive fragrance launched in Italy this year. But he doesn’t seem worried about sticker shock. He speculates that the financial crisis has made the consumer extra cautious about money.

“The consumer has changed a lot; she wants good products and safe products,” he said, asserting that the fragrance game will now “just be about quality.”

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