By  on January 30, 2006

NEW YORK — Clarins Fragrance Group here is poised to embark on its first Roberto Cavalli fragrance launch.

The U.S.-based unit of Groupe Clarins, which took the reins of ITF's Cavalli and Gianfranco Ferré fragrance businesses in the U.S. on Jan. 1, will launch Cavalli's Serpentine scent in April. The fragrance made its European debut last fall.

"When we were looking last [year] at the ITF venture, the exciting aspect was the Roberto Cavalli piece of it," said Benjamin Gillikin, president of Clarins Fragrance Group. "As we have watched in the past couple of years — on the fashion side — it became a driving business. We have an opportunity to build the fragrance business on the U.S. side."

For Serpentine, the distribution strategy is "the top of the market," Gillikin said, and will comprise fewer than 200 doors, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. "That's basically where [Cavalli fashion] is, along with his own boutiques and independent specialty stores — this is where there's an awareness of him."

Gillikin acknowledged that Clarins may widen distribution of Serpentine next spring. "We [will] get a feel, see where it goes," he said.

Although Gillikin declined to discuss sales projections, he noted that Clarins was aiming for a top-five ranking in the doors where Serpentine will be carried.

The eau de parfum, which is described as a "floral, ambery" mixture featuring accords of mango flower, mandarin, tiare flower, black pepper, frangipani, amber and sandalwood, was blended by Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich.

It will be available in 3.4-oz. and 1.7-oz. bottles priced at $82.50 and $65, respectively. Two 6.8-oz. ancillary products, a bath and shower gel and a body lotion, will be priced at $35 and $40, respectively.

Industry sources estimate Serpentine might generate $8 million in retail sales during its first year on counter in the U.S.

To promote the scent, Clarins has slated visuals in retailer catalogues and store-specific sampling programs. The company also is working on booking a personal appearance by the designer at a Saks location in New York or Beverly Hills."We see [Serpentine] having a very positive impact [on Clarins]," said Gillikin, who noted that, aside from the newly obtained ITF scents — and its existing Thierry Mugler and Azzaro businesses — the firm also is focused on Everlast fragrances, a business it officially took over Jan. 1. "These are important new ventures for us," he said.

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