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Helmut Lang’s Cuiron: The Scent of Leather

NEW YORK — Helmut Lang has leather on his mind. Not for his fall fashion collection, however — but as the basis for his newest men’s fragrance, Cuiron Pour Homme. <br><br>The fragrance, described as a leathery musk, is slated to roll...

NEW YORK — Helmut Lang has leather on his mind. Not for his fall fashion collection, however — but as the basis for his newest men’s fragrance, Cuiron Pour Homme.

The fragrance, described as a leathery musk, is slated to roll out Oct. 15 to 270 doors within the U.S. — effectively doubling Helmut Lang Parfums’ current distribution. Locations include the Helmut Lang Perfumerie located at 81 Greene Street here, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Sephora. The scent will also be available on the company’s Web site, Helmutlang.com. After the U.S. launch, Cuiron will debut in France before continuing its international roll out.

Cuiron, taken from the French translation of leather, “cuir,” is the designer’s second men’s scent. Lang, who has a fragrance deal with Procter & Gamble’s Prestige Beauté division, based in Geneva, launched his signature men’s and women’s scents in 2000.

According to Lang, there is no specific targeted customer for Cuiron. “It’s more important to do a great fragrance first,” he said, explaining that all of his scents were made in the old-world European tradition of a French perfumery. “The right customer will follow.”

While Lang wouldn’t say which house created the juice, sources said it was Quest International. The scent has top notes of plum and “fluid leather,” a fresh scent; middle notes of “sensual leather,” a softer, suede-like scent, and bottom notes of “noble leather,” an earthy scent comparable to an English riding saddle. “[Leather] is one of the rare but great classic notes for men,” said Lang. “I wanted to give it a modern twist without losing the classic masculinity. I was more interested in reinventing leather — deconstructing it to build it back up again.”

Echoing the designer’s style, the perfume bottle and outer packaging are minimal in design. The amber glass flacon is a replica of an antique Viennese apothecary bottle. The shiny black outer packaging is accented with white.

The Cuiron lineup includes a 50-ml. bottle of eau de cologne that will retail for $45, a 100-ml. bottle of eau de cologne for $60, a 100-ml. bottle of aftershave for $45, a shower gel for $35 and a deodorant stick for $22.

While Lang refused to comment on projections, industry sources said they expect the new scent to ring up first-year retail sales of $2 million.

Despite the plethora of new men’s fragrance launches this fall, including Ralph Lauren’s Polo Blue, Crave by Calvin Klein and Estée Lauder’s Intuition for Men, Lang remains unconcerned. “I believe in what I do,” he said. There is a lot of competition but this is a really great fragrance.”

In-store, 100,000 samples in the form of tester vials and deluxe miniatures will be distributed this year in the U.S. 500,000 samples will be distributed in 2003.

The advertising campaign consists of images shot by Irving Penn. “He knew exactly what we wanted to do,” said Lang. “[Penn] basically recreated the box for the ad. It’s a very beautiful and very strong image.” The still life images will be used for all in-store visuals. Print ads are set to break in men’s, art, news, and general interest books this October. Scent strips, based on Lang’s dislike of them, will not be used.

A woman’s fragrance, “not necessarily connected,” to Cuiron, is set to launch in 2004.”