Versace Turns Rare Gem into a Fragrance

The protagonist of the brand's next women’s fragrance conjures images of a rare, fancy yellow diamond of canary-yellow saturation and extreme purity.

Versace’s Yellow Diamond.

MILAN — Versace’s protagonist of its next women’s fragrance conjures images of a rare, fancy yellow diamond of canary-yellow saturation and extreme purity.

This story first appeared in the September 2, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Versace Yellow Diamond, the brand’s latest launch, marks a return to the pricing of past fragrances, such as 2006’s best-selling Bright Crystal. By contrast, the houses’s last fragrance, Vanitas, launched in 2010 with price points 20 to 30 percent higher than its predecessors.

“Versace Yellow Diamond is a line with lots of personality, and thanks to commercial characteristics and its visibility, it will be positioned on the same level as Bright Crystal at the heart of all the Versace lines,” said Giovanni Sgariboldi, president of Versace’s fragrance licensee partner, Euroitalia. The line includes a 1.7-oz. eau de toilette, priced at $67 for the U.S.; a 3-oz. version at $88 and a $42 body lotion.

However, the fragrance is aimed at a precocious consumer.

“Yellow Diamond was created for an audience that’s younger, more hooked into fashion, and always looking for something new — those who love different products and personalities with bold colors — transparent and brilliant like a yellow diamond,” said Sgariboldi.

Fragrance sales are a pillar for the Italian fashion house and Sgariboldi expects big things from the new scent. “The goal is very ambitious. We have great expectations from this fragrance considering what we’ve created,” he said, continuing, “In 2010, after the big launch of Vanitas, we recorded an increase in sales of about 25 percent. During the first six months of 2011, the increase was 20 percent.”

The company did not disclose figures, but industry sources indicate that Euroitalia hopes that Yellow Diamond will eclipse Bright Crystal in sales and become the global bestseller among the seven Versace scents that the company has launched thus far. Yellow Diamond is the eighth. If the new fragrance hits the target, it means that worldwide sales would exceed 45 million euros, or $65 million at current exchange. In order to achieve that goal, market sources estimate that Euroitalia will spend roughly 30 million euros, or $43 million, in advertising and promotion on a worldwide basis.

The company reportedly is aiming for the top 20 in global fragrance rankings and the top 10 in the U.S.

The fragrance is being launched in Europe in September, beginning with Italy then fanning out to the U.K., Germany, Greece and Russia. The U.S. launch is expected in January with a rollout by Valentine’s Day. Connie Ruscio, vice president and general manger of Fragrances Elite International, Euroitalia’s U.S. distributor, said she expects that the new fragrance will be carried by the company’s 1,800 door network. That includes Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s and limited Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus doors.

Claudio Tenan, export manager for Euroitalia, said the fragrance will be distributed through the Middle East, Australia and Asia, starting next spring. He added that the fragrance will probably make its debut in China in September of 2012.

Donatella Versace’s muse for Versace Yellow Diamond was found in her jewelry box.

“I was inspired to create my Yellow Diamond fragrance by a precious yellow diamond ring I have,” she said. “The jewel has always stimulated a feeling of brightness, sensuality and energy, and this is what I set out to capture in this new glamorous, charming and feminine floral fragrance.”

The bottle was designed by Versace’s Style office. The transparent yellow cap alludes to a faceted gemstone, contrasted by a substantial, cube glass bottom. The Versace Medusa-etched seal in plated gold is entombed in the cap’s center.

The yellow-hued juice is in the floral-fruity-woody olfactive family, created by Alberto Morillas of Firmenich. Comprised of pear sorbet, neroli, bergamot, and citron from diamante head, the heart is nymphaea, freesia, orange blossom, mimosa, and the dryout is amber wood, palo santo and musk.

The outer packaging is a flash of gold filigree over a bright yellow background in Versace’s baroque stamp, and the fonts are in midnight blue.

The print ad campaign features Australian top model Abbey Lee Kershaw, whose image is refracted in the kaleidoscopic facets of a yellow diamond. It was shot in Paris by Mario Testino with Donatella Versace billed as creative director.

Set to an Eighties beat, the TV campaign follows an Ian Fleming narrative: a leather-jacketed James Bond archetype is ushered into an office by two suited men, and he removes a large yellow diamond from a Versace leather briefcase. Inspecting the diamond, he sees a multifaceted vision of Kershaw dancing in a yellow dress, trapped in the diamond’s planes. He returns the yellow diamond to the briefcase, seals the deal with a handshake, and walks off with the gemstone.

Sgariboldi hinted at balancing Versace’s fragrance arm (acquired by Euroitalia in late December 2004): “Making predictions in this global situation isn’t easy — although we’re thinking about a big launch of a new fragrance for men.”