PARIS--Celine, the French fashion and accessories house, plans to launch its first fragrance--a women's scent--in fall 1996. The firm, part of Bernard Arnault's empire and controlled by the Au Bon Marché holding company, just started working on the scent's development, said Nan Legeai, Céline chairman and chief executive officer. Legeai is developing the scent with Dominique Fersancourt, formerly a marketing executive at Kenzo Parfums, who, in addition to other duties, was responsible for new-product development. One of Céline's strategies will be to aggressively price the fragrance. "What we are looking to do is make an eau de parfum, but target an eau de toilette price," said Legeai, referring to the difference in fragrance concentrations, and therefore value."We don't want to compete with the likes of Joy or Patou, but we do want to be competitive with fragrances in our sister companies." She was referring to fragrance brands within Arnot's Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton LVMH group of companies, such as Christian Dior and Givenchy perfumes. While Céline is not now part of LVMH, it will be transferred to the corporate group from Au Bon Marché sometime this fall. Legeai said she has wanted for some time to launch a women's fragrance, but felt she had to wait until the time was right. Since 1987, when Legeai became president of Céline, she has been restructuring the 47-year-old company. The company bought back the rights to certain franchise agreements, such as for the U.S, where Céline established a subsidiary in 1990. "The old image of Céline is dead, and we have a much younger-oriented fashion house now," she said. "We can do more of this with a perfume, since it's a lower-priced item that can attract a lot more--and younger--customers." A name has not yet been selected. Similarly, the launch plan, including introductions outside France, has not been completed. The new fragrance will be sold in a selective list of department and specialty stores and perfumeries, according to executives.
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