By  on January 19, 2007

Coach has its first fragrance in the bag — a project which takes the iconic leather goods firm into the world of beauty. The eponymous scent, which will be launched in March exclusively in Coach's 220 U.S. retail stores, is being produced for Coach by the BeautyBank division of the Estée Lauder Cos.

"We could have done a fragrance three or four years ago, but we wouldn't have been able to do it like this," said Reed Krakoff, president and executive creative director of Coach, during an interview in his offices last week. "Let's face it, the world doesn't need another anything. For us to enter this category, we needed to have the ability to do something different and to have the right energy and the right partner. We also needed to have the ability to go beyond one fragrance."

The company, founded in 1941, overhauled its conservative image in the Nineties under the direction of Krakoff and Lew Frankfort, chairman and chief executive officer, transforming Coach into a fashion-forward, desirable brand — and expanding into higher price points, with some exotic skin bags soaring well north of $5,000. The company went public in October 2000 and has gradually expanded its reach into a host of complementary products, including eyewear, watches, knitwear, shoes and jewelry.

Krakoff added, "It's taken us this long to build a bridge between a handbag and a fragrance. We've spent 10 years preparing to get there. Five years ago, we wouldn't have had as much to say. But now, we're a multifaceted house. We think this is a believable time to do a fragrance."

The scent is also a milestone for BeautyBank, marking the first upscale project for the Lauder division, which was founded in 2003. To date, BeautyBank has produced four other lines — American Beauty, Flirt, Good Skin and Daisy Fuentes Beauty — all of which are sold exclusively at Kohl's Department Stores.

While the Coach project is BeautyBank's maiden voyage into the upscale market, Krakoff is definitely on board and, in fact, created a Coach resort collection inspired by the scent's bottle design and its colors. The line includes swimwear, scarves and platform espadrilles, as well as a $598 canvas handbag with a graphic print of repeating hangtags called the Carly Resort Lozenge Bag.

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