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Donatella Versace Does a Star Turn

Donatella Versace strode onto the main floor of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York Tuesday afternoon to promote her new women's scent, and turned on the star power.

Donatella Versace strode onto the main floor of Saks Fifth Avenue in New York Tuesday afternoon to promote her new women’s scent, and turned on the star power. She drew an estimated 300 people, signed bottles for an hour and sold enough fragrance to win Versace a number-one ranking at the store.

That added up to a day’s sales in the range of $35,000, according to industry sources. There was no comment from executives at Euroitalia, Versace’s new beauty licensee, or Saks. But there was plenty of comment about Donatella’s performance.

“She has such star power with the consumer,” said Deborah Walters, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for cosmetics and fragrances at Saks. Noting that Versace has “such a successful designer business at Saks,” Walters added: “It’s a great synergy; [the fragrance] is positioned as a modern classic and it represents the direction in which she is taking the new Versace — very modern and chic.”

During a break from giving autographs, Versace said, “This fragrance is important to me. During the last few years, I have tried to take the old Versace and give it a more contemporary look and a new energy,” adding that she intends to be much more involved in the house’s fragrance direction.

The new fragrance, called Versace, exudes a lighter, brighter touch than previous efforts and it echoes the change in the fashion house’s design philosophy. The same was true of last fall’s entry, Bright Crystal, which was the first issue under the new partnership with Euroitalia.

Versace has been on the fragrance case. While attending the Costume Institute gala the night before at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she even snuck in some impromptu sampling by spritzing Hilary Swank with the new fragrance. “She loved it,” Versace reported, adding that she was impressed with the event. “It was very beautiful,” she said. “There was a lot of people there and everyone was so dressed up. It’s what I love about American women.”

The new signature scent will be carried exclusively in the U.S. by Saks for the rest of the year, and there are plans to spread distribution to other specialty stores after the first of the year, followed by department stores and Sephora in mid-spring, according to the U.S. distributor, Connie Ruscio, vice president and general manager of Fragrances Elite International LLC.

This story first appeared in the May 11, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

So far, so good, in the view of Giovanni Sgaribaldi, president of Euroitalia. “We are very happy about the relaunch of Versace at Saks,” he said. “Everything was extraordinary and excellent.”