NEW YORK — No one will ever accuse Sean "Diddy" Combs of being understated.
The dapper rapper made a very important delivery to Saks Fifth Avenue's Manhattan flagship Thursday morning, driving a Brinks truck packed with the first shipment of Unforgivable, his new men's fragrance for the Estée Lauder Cos.
Combs is doing two versions of Unforgivable. His first fragrance is a $300 "couture" version which will be carried by Saks Fifth Avenue's Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Bal Harbour and Dadeland stores and Combs' own stores in the U.S., while a less pricy version will bow at about 1,800 department and specialty store doors, including Macy's and Sephora, in mid-February.
Surveying the screaming crowd of teenage girls crammed behind NYPD barricades, loudly professing their love for Combs, Saks Fifth Avenue's vice chairman, Ron Frasch, observed dryly: "I think Sean is ready for the Tom Ford challenge." Ford's first products for Lauder debuted at Saks in November and shattered the store's personal appearance record, drawing in about 1,000 people and $30,000 in sales.
As for tackling records, Combs observed, "Tom makes them, I break them." And he has reason to be confident: more than 500 fans stood behind barricades in 38-degree weather just to catch a glimpse of Combs — who was simply making a delivery of the product, not doing a traditional personal appearance where fans are greeted and bottles are signed.
Before the bottles had even arrived, Saks had pre-sold 11 of the 2.5-oz. eau de parfum units. By the time he left at noon, 30 of the superpricy bottles had been sold, five while he was standing at the counter.
The bottles are of smoked gray glass in a clear acrylic holder, topped with a gunmetal sculptured cap and packaged in a black keepsake box. The packaging was inspired by Combs' favorite things, including Ferraris, yachts and planes, and his homes around the world. "It's architectural, a mix of classic and contemporary," he told WWD earlier this year. "I saw maybe 20 different bottles, and when I saw this one, I thought it was different and unique and something that I felt would be remembered."Frasch and his team agree. "I think that Unforgivable will bring in a new customer base and service the ones we already have," he said. "That's what is so exciting about it."
Combs, who was scheduled to return to Saks Fifth Avenue Thursday evening to kick off sales for his Sean John women's apparel line, gave consumers a peek at the collection at the fragrance event. Combs was accompanied by two female models clad in his designs — cream dresses topped with cream winter coats with fur collars. Combs himself chose an elegant ensemble from his men's line — a gray cashmere turtleneck, gray pants and a gray jacket, accessorized with diamond stud earrings.
Combs said that he has already begun work on his women's fragrance, which is expected to be launched in fall 2006. While he was quick to emphasize that there isn't yet a finished juice, he has definite ideas of what mood he wants it to convey: "Right now, I'd have to say that we're looking for something refreshing, yet sensual," he said. Will it be as sexy as his men's scent? "Oh, it will be much sexier," he said with a roguish grin.
One thing's for sure, however: Combs will stay intimately involved with all of the projects which bear his name, especially the fragrance. "Lots of people, when they do a fragrance license, think of it as just another ancillary," he said. "This is a big deal to me, and it is my brand. I want to be involved in every aspect, from making the fragrance to meeting the sales specialists."
Combs is also putting the finishing touches on his next album, due in April, and planning to film two movies next year. He's also working on a TV commercial for Unforgivable, which is expected to air this spring.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast