By and  on June 22, 2007

Tom Ford, the man known for baring acres of flesh in his advertising, has chosen to reveal himself instead in the images for his new men's fragrance.

And there is a strategic reason why Tom Ford for Men, which is slated to launch Sept. 23, breaks that barrier: This launch has been designed as the third branding building block behind the Black Orchid women's scent and the Private Blend niche collection and is intended to solidify Ford's stature in beauty. "This is Tom Ford branding himself," said Andrea Robinson, president of Tom Ford Beauty and Prescriptives, two divisions of the Estée Lauder Cos. "We are working on the foundation and the base of the business."

Ford himself dubs the ad "a wet jacket and tie contest." Shot by artist Marilyn Minter in April, it features a portrait of Ford and a shot of a broken fragrance bottle. "[Marilyn] has a very signature style where she douses you with tons of water and sprays you with water in your face while you're being photographed for hours," said Ford.

This is the second campaign in which Ford has managed to keep everyone's clothes on. But never fear, Ford hasn't given up on baring all entirely. "Nudity for me is always present, and of course it's going to return," he said. "I think we're living for a moment where maybe we saw so much nudity, at least in the press and magazines, that it doesn't seem the freshest solution; it almost seems too easy right now as a solution for advertising to get someone's attention. So whenever everything tightens up again, of course, all of a sudden it's going to seem interesting and surprising to see someone nude again."

Keeping with the sexy theme, Ford finds it in the form of some unusual ingredients this time around — particularly in the form of cypriol, a root from India said to be used in fragrance for the first time with this project. Ford says it gives his new scent "that slightly dirty, sensual, sexy smell."

"It's not the same as natural musk used to be, but it has a bit of something that some people would think slightly dirty," Ford said. "I think it's warm and sensual."The juice, created by Ford in cooperation with International Flavors & Fragrances, opens with Mediterranean Hesperdic notes combined with lemon leaf oil, Italian bergamot, mandarin zest, basil grand vest, violet leaves and ginger. The heart is of Tunisian orange flower absolute, black pepper, tobacco leaf absolute and Moroccan grapefruit flower. The drydown is of deep amber accord, cedarwood heart, Virginia patchouli, vetiver mist, oakmoss, leatherwood and the aforementioned cypriol. The ridged clear glass bottle is reminiscent of Ford's Black Orchid women's scent and features an engraved name plaque embellished with 18-karat gold plating. Outer packaging is black with gold accents and a gold label. The scent will be available in two sizes, $55 for 50 ml. and $78 for 100 ml.

Tom Ford for Men is more broadly based than earlier Ford scents, and that's entirely deliberate.

"This is a broader fragrance, so it's hopefully going to be successful worldwide," said Ford. "It is not as specific as Private Blend — it's not as expensive as Private Blend, either, by the way, which is quite expensive — and it's not as intense as Tom Ford for Men Extreme, which comes out next. It is meant to be broad — and I hate to say that, because it sounds almost like a comedown to say that you're trying to design a broad fragrance because it still has an enormous amount of personality and signature."

Tom Ford for Men will be launched at Saks Fifth Avenue, which will have a six-week exclusive on the scent. It is then scheduled to roll out to 260 specialty store doors in the U.S., and expand to another 1,500 doors overseas, where Ford is considered to have more name recognition than in the U.S. Personal appearances are being discussed. "I'll do some PAs in some locations," he said. "You have to pick and chose your PAs carefully — and if you're too available, no one wants to come and see you. We haven't yet confirmed locations and dates."

According to industry sources, Tom Ford for Men is projected to do $17 million at wholesale globally for the first year, with a worldwide print advertising budget of $6 million to $7 million.Tom Ford for Men Extreme, on the other hand, "gives me the opportunity to be a bit more intense," said Ford of the offshoot, which will be released in mid-November in Ford's own stores. "It doesn't need to be as broad. The packaging is more expensive, the juice is more expensive. It will be in a much more selective distribution than Tom Ford for Men, ultimately, once we even take it beyond our own stores. It'll be in the kind of distribution that Private Blend would be in. It's a more expensive product that's targeted at a niche part of the audience. One reason we launched so many fragrances in the last year is this phenomenon, 'the long tail,' because you can have everything today. You are actually able to build up a solid business catering to niche tastes, as long as you have a broad enough selection to cover all the niche tastes that you end up with something for everyone in that sense."

According to Robinson, Ford's women's launch of last fall, Black Orchid, is ranking in the top three in most specialty stores where it is sold. According to industry sources, it is selling throughout the specialty store universe in the top five. Meanwhile, the 12-scent Private Blend collection is reportedly selling at twice the rate that was originally forecast.

"We're about to launch another version of [Black Orchid] called Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, and that's our next women's launch, coming this fall," said Ford. Voile de Fleur is intended to broaden the appeal of the Black Orchid franchise, which originally was designed to make a big statement with a large signature.

"Voile de Fleur actually started out as the eau de toilette for Black Orchid," continued Ford. The juice has a white flower injected into the scent's black orchid accord. "We also have our next completely new women's launch coming next spring, which is also done and designed. I love it and am happy about it."

Once Extreme and Voile de Fleur are launched, Robinson said the company will have launched 16 fragrances in about a year, making the franchise "a true house of fragrance."

Ford's also far along on designing his color cosmetics line, although he's keeping mum on launch dates and other details. "I've already designed a big part of it, but I'm not going to tell you about it," he teased. But he turned serious when discussing its significance: "Color and cosmetics, that's something that I always loved at Gucci and at Saint Laurent," said Ford. "I spent days working on the way the girls' faces looked because I thought that each season you should create a look with that as well as the latest shoe, the latest bag. It's your character for the season. It's the mood of the moment. You could take nude girls from the Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, Sixties and Seventies in full makeup and hair and stand them there with no clothes and no shoes and you could easily walk through and say '1960,' '1974.' It says so much about our time."Skin care and men's grooming are also in development. "Skin care for us will be more grooming or a prep for makeup [than high-tech skin care]," said Ford.

Ford is also continuing to expand his global reach, and will open 100 stores over the next 10 years. "The thing is, this is just the only way I know how to work," he said. "I have a very total vision, and I don't want to use the word totalitarian, but everything is linked. If I'm designing a suit, you need these shoes to go with it. I know how to operate at a certain scale, and that scale doesn't scare me because I've done it before. So it's quite natural for me. It's the only way I know how to work, really."

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