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Gucci’s New Blend: By Frida

Determined to create a classic, Frida Giannini channeled herself into her first women's fragrance for Gucci, which will launch this fall.

FLORENCE — Determined to create a classic, Frida Giannini channeled herself into her first women’s fragrance for Gucci, which will launch this fall.

The creative director of the Florence-based fashion house said she wanted Gucci by Gucci, the new scent she developed with the P&G Prestige Products division of Procter & Gamble, to have a strong personality that mirrored her own.

“It was important for me to put in unconventional ingredients that had a strong personality,” said Giannini in an interview in her office overlooking Florence’s tourist-packed Piazza della Signoria, adding that she felt strongly about adding a perfume because it was “the part that was missing” in the Gucci franchise.

“The other Gucci perfumes were made by different people — I really wanted to put myself in the fragrance,” said Giannini.

Dressed in a black-and-white gingham skirt and black top from Gucci’s 2008 cruise line, Giannini revealed creating the new fragrance was one of the most intense projects she had undertaken, but she is proud of the end result.

“What I want out of this fragrance is that it becomes a classic and that it has a long life. I want it to be like a Chanel No. 5 — OK, that’s a grand dream, but it’s better to think big,” she said with a laugh.

Procter & Gamble shares Giannini’s hopes for the fragrance’s success, and though they wouldn’t divulge figures, industry sources said Gucci by Gucci’s first-year sales figure is likely to hit $100 million at retail globally.

“Gucci by Gucci is going to take off,” said Markus Strobel, vice president of global fine fragrances for Procter & Gamble. “This is the first fragrance developed by Frida Giannini from the ground up, so it will be a cornerstone for the future.”

Giannini, who had never worked on a fragrance before, said she was a keen student of every facet of the yearlong creation process.

“It was important I communicated to Procter & Gamble my tastes, what I liked and wanted, and at the same time it was important for me to learn about constructing a fragrance and work with a nose who taught me the classic olfactory pyramid. It was hard work, and to arrive at the final fragrance I knew it was something special and unique,” said Giannini.

For the scent, which will launch this fall, Giannini unleashed her affinity for masculine notes. Formulated by Procter & Gamble’s fragrance team together with Firmenich, Gucci by Gucci is a modern chypre scent. Gucci by Gucci’s base ingredients are those usually reserved for men’s fragrances: patchouli, honey and musk. Middle notes of Tahitian Tiare flower, orange blossom and spider lily and top notes of guava, raspberry and pear balance out the scent.

Classic Gucci motifs dominate the fragrance’s flacon. Designed by Giannini, who researched antique English and French perfume bottles from the Thirties and Forties, the faceted brown glass bottle features gold scripted “Gucci by Gucci,” and iconic Gucci webbing in frosted glass panels at the front and back. The flacon’s neck is adorned with a gold necklace and horse-bit charm.

“I had the idea in my head from the beginning how I wanted it to look but then to produce it industrially — it’s a lot different from producing a bag or a pair of shoes. I gave Procter a big challenge for the flacon but at the end it really turned out how I wanted,” said Giannini.

Gucci by Gucci’s launch comes at a pivotal time for the powerful luxury brand, which broke sales of 2.1 billion euros, or $2.89 billion at current exchange, last year. Interviewed before an intimate dinner for select beauty press to preview the scent, Gucci’s chief executive officer Mark Lee said “fragrance has been a sleeping category for us for some years, but now we are ready to take it forward and build it for the long term in a qualitative manner.”

Lee said the company didn’t view the agreement with Procter & Gamble as a license but as a “long-term strategic partnership.”

Though Lee wouldn’t pontificate on financial expectations of the fragrance division for the brand, he said other historic categories for the brand were all growing. “It is a very good time for us to be pushing in a more serious way with fragrance,” he said.

Gucci by Gucci will be launched in the beginning of October and rolled out to a global distribution of 18,000 doors through spring 2008. Strobel said “a selective launch strategy was planned to reflect the preciousness of the proposition,” adding that in the U.S., Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and the Gucci boutiques would exclusively carry the fragrance for the first three months in a total of 75 doors; it will roll out to additional U.S. doors in spring 2008. In the U.S., the 1.6 oz. eau de parfum will retail for $80 and the 2.5 oz. size for $100. A body lotion, $48 for 6.7 oz., and a shower gel, $40 for 6.7 oz., will also be sold.

A television advertising campaign, featuring models Raquel Zimmerman, Natasha Poly and Freja Beha Erichsen was shot by award-winning director David Lynch in Paris. Giannini said the three models were meant to represent different aspects of the Gucci woman. Inez & Vinoodh shot the accompanying print campaign, which will run in the U.S. in fashion, beauty and lifestyle publications and in magazines in “the major perfume markets,” said Strobel, declining to be more specific.

Strobel added Gucci by Gucci’s line would be updated with a luxury, more concentrated edition — its flacon trimmed with satin and velvet — in three months. Additionally, several thousand gigantic bottles of the fragrance will be produced for high-end distribution doors and select Gucci boutiques.