By  on April 27, 2007

Aerin Lauder is taking a page out of her iconic grandmother's playbook in reinventing Private Collection, which was Estée Lauder's most aspirational fragrance.

Named Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, the scent will be launched in August and plays on a concept Estée started in 1973, said Lauder, who is senior vice president and creative director of the brand founded by her grandmother in 1946. In fact, so intertwined are the two that Lauder will appear in the print advertising for the new fragrance, the first time a Lauder family member has done so.

"It was a wonderful fragrance that Estée kept for herself and her close friends," said Lauder. "She then decided to launch it, and the whole idea was, after you smell it, you know why she kept it for herself. When I was a little girl, Estée told me that the formula for Private Collection was kept in the safe, and as a six-year-old, obviously I believed her. And as an adult, I love the idea, and thought it would be interesting to re-create the Private Collection concept of a high-end, limited-distribution fragrance that feels special and luxurious."

The centerpiece of the new version of Private Collection is Tuberose Gardenia, a fragrance that Lauder — who has long enjoyed concocting scents for herself and her friends — actually came up with about two years ago; the commercial version was created by Lauder and Karyn Khoury, senior vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos., in partnership with Firmenich. Its top notes are of neroli, lilac and rosewood; the heart is of tuberose, gardenia, orange flower, jasmine and white lily, and the drydown is of carnation and vanilla bourbon.

"I wore gardenias in my hair when I got married, and I've always loved tuberose," said Lauder. The key florals in the mix are special to her for another reason, too: "They were Estée's favorite flowers," she said. "She always had them in her front hallway [and] next to her bed. Those were the flowers that she loved — the white florals. So, in a way, this fragrance is really in honor of her."

The collection's key product is Tuberose Gardenia Perfume, which Lauder calls "the jewel of the collection." The glass bottle has a gem-encrusted gold cap inspired by a Josef Hoffmann brooch. "We're using aventurine, yellow and green jade, citrine and lemon stones," said Lauder, "and every cap is different, because every stone is different." A 1-oz. bottle will retail for $300.Two sizes of eaux de parfum will be sold; a 1-oz. bottle for $65 and a 2.5-oz. bottle for $120, both with hammered gold caps inspired by Lauder's favorite David Webb jewelry, a bequest from her grandmother. A solid perfume compact, studded with semiprecious stones, will retail for $175, and a body cream will retail for $75 for 6.7 oz. Brush-On Powder Compact, a lightweight pressed powder in a gem-encrusted compact, will retail for $125 (a refill is $25) and a gem-studded mirror compact, $75, will round out the collection. "Estée loved very bold packaging," said Lauder. "I think she would love this packaging, and the fragrance I think she would adore."

The collection also aims to reinforce the aspirational aspect of the Estée Lauder brand, and along with its premium pricing, the lineup will have high-end specialty store distribution. In North America, it will be available in Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Holt Renfrew, in a total of about 100 doors. A global launch will begin in September. While Lauder declined to comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that Private Collection could do at least $7 million in global retail sales its first year on counter.

Lauder's print ad, shot by Craig McDean and art-directed by Lloyd & Co., was directly influenced by a Victor Skrebneski shot of Estée. "They're done in the same spirit," said Lauder. "It's timeless chic."

The ad will begin running in October issues of Vogue and Vanity Fair and W in December (are all published by WWD's parent, Condé Nast Publications).

Lauder is already hard at work on additions to Private Collection, including a holiday collection that will have a candle and a jeweled compact with lip gloss. "Private Collection is a permanent addition to the brand," she said, noting that the general plan is to do one new fragrance for the line per year for the next several years. "I think it would be nice to have four — a floral, a spice and so on, depending on trends," she said.

But for now, she's perfectly happy to focus on her latest creation. "There's something wonderful when you get into an elevator and someone says, 'I love the fragrance you're wearing,'" said Lauder, recounting with a laugh a similar moment her grandmother experienced in the early Seventies. "She got into a cab, and the driver commented on her fragrance. She told him, and then added, 'And I'm Estée Lauder.' The cabdriver's response? 'Sure, lady, and I'm Cary Grant.'"I'm really proud of this project — and I think she would be, too."

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