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LONDON — Alexander McQueen has unveiled his first fragrance — and it’s not for the faint of heart.
This story first appeared in the January 10, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Called Kingdom, the fragrance will be launched worldwide on March 17 — McQueen’s 34th birthday — and it is all about the slings, arrows and pangs of love.
To wit, the juice comes in a silver and ruby bottle, the inside of which is shaped like a heart. Kingdom is a heady blend of woody, spicy and floral notes composed around sandalwood.
“I am a melancholy type of person. I’m feeling, deep and romantic at heart and this fragrance comes from my heart,” said McQueen during a news conference Tuesday at the British Museum.
McQueen said it took a year-and-a-half to develop Kingdom, and he said he followed the project personally from the start. “When I give, I give 120 percent, and I really wanted the fragrance to be honest, down-to-earth and not some marketing ploy,” he said.
The fragrance will be sold through 4,000 doors worldwide, with about 250 of those in the U.S.
And in what is possibly a first for the fragrance business, McQueen worked with a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet on the copy.
McQueen and the poet Jorie Graham — a Harvard instructor who is a friend of Chantal Roos, head of YSL Beauté and Issey Miyake — composed a poem to accompany the fragrance. The first line of the poem, “Pierce my heart again,” is written on the inside flap of the eau de parfum box.
“I’m a schizophrenic, psychotic relationship-type of person,” said McQueen with a laugh, “and so you’ll see the poem has an Edgar Allen Poe feeling to it.”
Each new component of Kingdom — such as bath and body products, which will be launched in September — will carry a new line of the poem.
As for the fragrance, McQueen said his brief for perfumer Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich was to create a scent “verging on androgyny, one that moves between the feminine and masculine.”
The top notes are a blend of fresh Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian mandarin and Tunisian neroli, while the heart is made from cumin essence mixed with petals of rose and Indian jasmine, ginger and copahu wood. The base notes are a blend of Bourbon vanilla and Indonesian myrrh.
The outer packaging for the 25-ml. parfum spray is a white cube with one red transparent side. The bottle, which is made from stainless steel on the outside and red Venetian glass on the inside, looks as if it’s suspended inside the cube.
For the eau de parfum, the packaging is crafted from cream-colored parchment and sealed with crimson wax. A different seal has been developed for every size of the eau de parfum to give the sense that each product is unique.
In the U.S, the 0.8-oz. perfume will be priced at $195, followed by the 3.3-oz. eau de parfum spray, retailing for $80 a bottle; the 1.6-oz. version for $60, and the 1-oz. size for $50.
Kingdom will be launched exclusively at Selfridges on March 15, and then will go worldwide two days later. In the U.S., the fragrance will be launched March 17, with a one-month exclusive at Saks Fifth Avenue, then will make its debut April 17 in selected doors of Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, Barneys New York, Bloomingdale’s and Sephora.
Roos, president and chief executive of YSL Beauté, a division of Gucci Group, told WWD that the biggest investment will be in point of sale. “People in the street do not necessarily know the McQueen name, so it’s important for them to discover the product in the store,” she said.
While Roos declined to reveal sales projections, industry sources said Kingdom is expected to generate about $25 million at wholesale and $45 million in retail sales during its first year.
Roos said Kingdom is the first fragrance in YSL Beauté’s new Emerging Brands Division, which has its own marketing and sales team. Fragrances for Ermenegildo Zegna and Stella McCartney will also join the stable.
Kingdom’s ad campaign features an image of intertwined naked women forming a flower shape. Shot by Nick Knight, it’s made up of single- and double-page spreads, and will break in the April issues of a magazines including W, the sister publication to WWD, and Vogue, Roos said.