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A Second Act for Stella McCartney Scent

Stella McCartney is dividing her first signature scent into a solid and a liquid version, called Stella in Two, to try and widen her consumer reach and carve a path through the overwrought fragrance market.

LONDON — Stella McCartney is dividing her first signature scent into a solid and a liquid version, called Stella in Two, to try and widen her consumer reach and carve a path through the overwrought fragrance market.

The scents, created with McCartney’s beauty licensee, YSL Beauté, are due to hit counters starting in August.

The solid perfume, dubbed Stella in Two Amber, was inspired by amber notes in the Stella fragrance, while the eau de toilette, called Stella in Two Peony, is reminiscent of its rose accords. The duo can be worn alone or layered.

“I wanted to separate the two notes in a way that meant you can mix the two together and really make your own perfume,” said McCartney at the scent’s press launch here. “[Traditionally], the only control you have is over how much you put on or how long you wait to [reapply]. I wanted the customer to have more freedom.”

“Stella was always attracted to the two harmonies in the original fragrance,” said Chantal Roos, president and chief executive officer of Gucci Group-owned YSL Beauté. “This was an opportunity to play with both.”

Industry insiders lauded the idea of giving women the possibility to be creative with their fragrance. “When she mixes the two elements, the consumer herself becomes an actor in her own beauty — it’s a real innovation,” said Pierre-François Le Louet, the Paris-based ceo of the Nelly Rodi International trend forecasting agency. Le Louet added that while women often layer skin care and makeup products in a variety of textures, it’s a notion new to fine fragrances.

Roja Dove, who runs the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie at Harrods department store’s Urban Retreat space, saluted the novel approach to fragrance application. “It sets a new trend in marketing,” he said. “It’s very creative, as the sales staff will have something different to talk about in a market that’s crowded, oversaturated and very often lacking in creativity.”

While he noted young customers will probably find the solid element of the fragrance novel, he said he thinks it is unlikely consumers will buy the solid and the spray, which are sold separately. “I’ll be very surprised if it really catches on,” he added.

This story first appeared in the July 7, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

While Roos said Stella in Two doesn’t target a particular customer segment, McCartney suggested it may appeal to a young clientele. “I wanted to introduce another audience to the Stella perfume,” she said. “[Stella in Two] is so clearly night and day. The amber is sensual and sexy, while with peony, I imagine a girl walking in a country garden.”

The fragrances were concocted by Firmenich’s Jacques Cavallier, who also created the original Stella juice. Stella in Two Amber is a blend of musky amber notes, while Stella in Two Peony consists of notes of peony, black pepper, patchouli, cedar wood and a hint of amber. McCartney tweaked the design of the crystal-shaped Stella bottle for the liquid and solid versions of the products. The Peony scent is in a dusky rose-colored flacon that is faceted around the edges. The Amber solid is in a similarly colored compact, which also includes faceted edges.

The fragrances’ advertising campaign, shot by Dutch photographers Inez & Vinoodh, features two superimposed shots of model Bette. One element of the image shows her holding the Amber compact, while the other pictures her with the Peony bottle.

The solid will be priced in the U.K. at 23 pounds, or $42 at current exchange. The eau de toilette will be available as 25-, 50- and 75-ml. sprays, selling for 27 pounds, 37 pounds and 47 pounds, or $49, $67 and $85.50, respectively.

To comply with McCartney’s commitment to environmental and animal protection, Stella in Two’s ancillary line comprises 100 percent organic active ingredients; it doesn’t contain genetically modified organisms or chemical preservatives; it is not tested on animals, and 90 percent of its ingredients are of natural origin. The line comprises a 150-ml. moisturizer and a 150-ml. exfoliating shower gel, priced at 24 pounds and 21 pounds, or $43.70 and $38, respectively.

The scents are set to launch exclusively in mid-August in the Selfridges department store here, and mid-September internationally. In the U.S., Stella in Two will have a typically tight distribution of 470 doors. While YSL Beauté does not break out figures, industry sources estimate that Stella in Two could generate about $6 million at retail in the U.S. alone, based on the limited distribution.

The original fragrance, launched in 2003, ranks in the top 10 at Sephora in the U.S. According to sources the brand has been growing in the double digit range, approaching 20 percent. Globally, its wholesale volume hovers around 20 million euros, or $25 million at current exchange rates, according to estimates by industry sources.

During a subsequent interview, Roos indicated that she sees broad opportunities for the brand in the future, driven mostly by McCartney’s beliefs and preferences. She has strong appeal, for instance, thanks to her reputation for edgy, contemporary fashion. Her strong beliefs concerning protection of the environment and opposition to animal testing also plays out in the brand development. But the biggest plus is her involvement with the business.

“She is behind everything; she goes to the factory,” Roos said, adding that McCartney invests herself into the project. She takes pride in making sure the products are good enough and seems to care what customers think. “She’s very conscious of showing respect to the customer,” Roos noted.