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Beauty Beat: Creed Gives New Life to a Classic From Its Past

Creed has continued its drive to update classic scents with Original Santal, which is due to bow in March.

NEW YORK — Following the reinvention of its 1948 Vetiver fragrance two years ago with the new Original Vetiver, Creed has continued its drive to update classic scents with Original Santal, which is due to bow in March.

According to Erwin Creed, the 25-year-old son of chief executive officer Olivier Creed, the goal was to create a family of “Original” fragrances that reinvented scents from the past. Original Santal, is a variation on the brand’s Santal Imperial scent from 1850. Creed’s father-and-son ownership team worked closely together to create both Original Santal and Original Vetiver.

Santal Imperial was an eau de toilette with a more traditional approach, featuring a darker, true sandalwood note. The latest incarnation tones down the sandalwood smell, adding other ingredients and giving it a sweeter citrus scent. It will be marketed to both men and women. The company’s first unisex fragrance in two years, Original Santal joins the other four unisex scents: Creed bestseller Imperial Millesime, Silver Mountain Water, Himalaya and Original Vetiver.

“We wanted to create something completely different,” said Erwin Creed. “There were too many fresh fragrances, so we created a sensual, warm winter fragrance.” Created by the company’s sixth-generation owner Olivier Creed, Original Santal is infused with Asian inspiration — a woody and Oriental fragrance tapping into the rare royal sandalwood trees of Mysore, India.

Creed’s U.S. distributor believes the fragrance will be especially successful among loyal consumers. “Creed may have more modern appeal, but the roots and history — going back two centuries ago — are still present in today’s creations,” said Emmanuel Saujet, vice chairman and ceo of International Cosmetics & Perfumes Inc. “But the tradition has never been lost. And that’s the beauty of keeping it in the family.”

Original Santal features top notes of sandalwood, cinnamon, coriander and juniper berry; middle notes of lavender, orange zest, rosemary and ginger, and base notes of vanilla and tonka bean. The fragrance lineup will be available at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and at Canadian specialty chain Holt Renfrew. It will include a 30-ml. travel size version priced at $90, a 75-ml. bottle for $178 and a 120-ml. size for $198.

While Creed executives wouldn’t talk numbers, industry sources estimate Original Santal could generate as much as $10 million in retail sales in the U.S. in its first 12 months in about 200 doors.

Original Santal’s bottle features a rainbow effect of changing shades of red, meant to evoke India’s sunrise. Atop the silver cap is a Creed crest in red, much like a cosmetic bindi decoration found on the foreheads of Indian women.

The company will donate a portion of the fragrance’s proceeds to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Saujet says that Creed wants to give back to the areas its fragrances’ raw materials come from.

This year, the company plans to release two limited-edition items: Feuille Verte, a masculine, so-called “green floral” scent slated to be available around Father’s Day, and a new women’s scent slated for later this year. Another major initiative for Creed this year is a diversification into leather goods, including a variety of fragrance and cosmetics travel kits. The move is meant as a return to Creed’s tailoring roots in England’s royal court.

Meanwhile, Erwin Creed is establishing himself more and more within the company. While an exact timetable of his succession has yet to be determined since Olivier Creed — the company’s nose, and designer, as well as ceo — has no plans at the moment to retire, he wants to ensure his son has developed the necessary skills and talent needed to run the company.

He exposed Erwin Creed to the world of fragrance-making at a young age, sending him to the city of Grasse for training. Erwin Creed subsequently gained experience in the U.S. and France, working for fragrance suppliers Firmenich, Calchauvet and Synarome. After returning to Creed, Erwin developed the 2003 Mimosa Soleil scented candle, designed the silver metallic packaging for 2002’s Himalaya fragrance for men, and recommended 2004’s Original Vetiver be made “a universal scent” rather than specifically for men.

“I worked with my father on Love in White. I suggested adding rice husk — from Java — for structure. It was a first in the industry,” said Erwin Creed. “I want to work in my father’s way but in my own style. He wants me to have my own identity. For me, it’s a big challenge with lots of responsibility. Not only is the brand expanding, but I need to pave the way and keep it on top.”