MILAN — Acqua Di Parma is ready to enter a new market.

The luxury niche Italian cologne company will launch its first women’s fragrance in its home base of Italy and the rest of Europe in September. The fragrance won’t hit American stores until spring 2005.

Iris Nobile will break new ground for the company, which already has two unisex colognes in its fragrance portfolio, said Paola Paganini, product manager of Acqua Di Parma.

“We have always been a company that produces unisex colognes, which have a strong following by men and women,” said Paganini. “But there are a lot of women who buy other products of ours — our candles and our home products — so we decided to create a perfume for them.”

Despite being a new direction for the Acqua Di Parma fragrance cache, Iris Nobile remains faithful to the company’s identity through its traditional yellow packaging, she said. However, small differences were added to differentiate the fragrance from the company’s colognes — the bottle has a lower and denser shape and features violet lettering on the label.

“We wanted to make this fragrance institutional, but to make it fit within the parameters of Acqua Di Parma,” said Paganini. “It is very feminine but still retains Acqua Di Parma qualities. It has the codes of who we are — from the traditional outside yellow packaging. You can see immediately from the style of the product that it is Acqua Di Parma. The form is very compact but with a feminine line.”

Acqua Di Parma chose iris as its principal note for the fragrance because of its elegant and historical properties, Paganini said. The iris was a symbol of Florentine aristocracy and remains the official representation of the city of Florence.

Created by Quest International, Iris Nobile notes include iris petals, Sicilian mandarin and Calabrian bergamot, middle notes of iris petals and bottom notes of iris roots, Madagascar vanilla and amber crystals.

“We have dedicated Iris Nobile to a woman who is fascinating, chic, feminine, sensual and intellectual. This is not a fashion fragrance — but something that has its own style. Therefore the woman who uses it could be 25, or 50,” said Paganini.Though the fragrance will be distributed in a selected 1,250 doors in Europe, Acqua Di Parma is hoping brand awareness will drive sales. “We think with the brand awareness we have, customers will discover it,” said Paganini.

The company refused to name a figure for first-year sales, but industry sources pegged the number at $4 million at retail.

Iris Nobile will have a print advertising campaign in Europe — a photo of the fragrance bottle shot against a black background, said Paganini.

The fragrance will be available in two sizes of eau de toilette spray; the 50-ml. will retail for $74, or 61 euros, and the 100-ml. for $112, or 92 euros. All prices are for Europe.

— Stephanie Epiro

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