By  on February 12, 2010

Milan — Versace’s Versus brand is poised to stage a comeback in beauty with a new energetic fragrance.

As the latest incarnation of the distinctive ‘rock chic’ line created by Gianni Versace in 1989, the new scent, Versus Versace, is designed to draw momentum from a vibrant positioning. “I worked closely on the fragrance to create a perfume that leaves you with the desire of wanting more and more,” said the brand’s creative director Donatella Versace.

Hoping to catch the eye of Valentine’s Day shoppers, Versus Versace is being launched this week in Italy and the U.K., previewing at Harrods in London. The scent will hit shelves in the rest of Europe in March. Rollouts in the Far East, Russia and the U.S. are set to follow from the end of March.

“Following our distribution rollouts we could reach 12,000 doors,” said Giovanni Sgariboldi, president of Euroitalia, Versace’s fragrance licensee.

Versace and Euroitalia executives do not break out numbers, but industry sources estimate that Versus Versace could generate up to $100 million in retail sales on a global basis in its first year. In the U.S. alone, it could do $10 million to $12 million at retail.

The new scent comes hot on the stiletto heels of the brand’s relaunched spring women’s collection and accessories line designed by Christopher Kane under the creative direction of Donatella Versace.

“She’s exactly the woman I envisioned with Christopher Kane for the Versus spring 2010 collection. She represents the rock ’n’ roll soul of the Versace woman,” said Versace.

She worked with perfumer Nathalie Lorson from Firmenich to create the vibrant scent, which mixes romantic tones with a strong edge. Top notes of energetic citrus are blended with a soft floral heart of orange blossom and sensual undertones of musk and patchouli.

“I used purple for the packaging because it represents my fashion and it is a color that reminds me of music,” said Versace of the bottle.

The scent’s solid crystal bottle bears the Versus Versace logo in gold, while contrasting silver details positioned around the rim and nozzle give it a disco edge emphasized by the flacon’s translucent purple glass top that evokes images of a dance-floor.

A reflective silver box bears the brand’s iconic labyrinth design, underlining the fragrance’s rock credentials. “Versus has a Nineties inspiration but we are pushing the image forward into the new millennium,” said Versace.

“Versace’s desire to relaunch the Versus brand is a large commitment from both an economic and creative point of view and we want to do all we can together to help them meet their objective,” said Sgariboldi.

This is not the first fragrance from Versus, which originally launched a scent in 2001 dubbed Time for Pleasure. The scent was eventually phased out, when Versus was put on hold by Gianni Versace Spa in 2004 in order to streamline operations at the Versace company. The strategy coincided with the sale of the company’s beauty arm Giver Profumi to Euroitalia, which signed a licensing deal in 2005.

In the U.S., Versus Versace’s launch is set for March 26 at Macy’s in 680 doors nationwide and will be rolled out in mid-April to a total universe of 1,500 doors, including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Sephora, Dillard’s, Lord & Taylor and Ulta.

Versus Versace will be available in three sizes, a 30-ml. eau de toilette for $45, 50-ml. for $59 and 100-ml. for $79. Ancillary bath products will accompany the launch: They comprise 200-ml. bottles of bath and shower gel for $30 and body lotion for $35.

A visually strong print campaign depicts model of the moment Lara Stone posing seductively in a mirrored labyrinth and wearing Versus. Shot by Craig McDean in Paris, the advertisement will be spun out into 30-, 15-, and 10-second spots. The art direction was done by Fabien Baron.

“Lara is a mix of innocence and sensuality. In the fragrance video it looks like she is going to do something unpredictable, like something unexpected is going to happen. This is the real spirit of Versus,” said Versace.

In the U.S., the launch will be supported with over eight million scented strips in store catalogues and magazines such as Teen Vogue, In Style, Allure and Cosmopolitan. Euroitalia also plans to leverage the 30-second Versus video with digital spots on Teen Vogue’s Web site and on Industry sources estimate roughly $5 million to $6 million will be spent supporting the U.S. launch.

Turning to future launch plans for the Versus brand, Sgariboldi said, “in the future, there could be the possibility to introduce a masculine line.”

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