By  on November 11, 2005

NEW YORK — The Estée Lauder Cos. and venerable Italian design house Missoni have knit together a new women's fragrance line for spring.

The duo, which signed the deal in May at a fashion show marking Missoni's 50th anniversary, are aiming to build a long-term, high-end business with this brand, said Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, senior vice president and general manager of the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division at Lauder, which is distributing the Missoni beauty line. "It offers something quite special and it is unlike anything already on the market."

"This brand is worth the wait," added Fabrice Weber, president of the division. "There is a level of passion rarely seen in this market, which is associated with Missoni. There is meaningful tradition behind this brand, and it is built on the strength of a family business that has always insisted on the very highest of quality."

At the signing in May, Lauder senior executives noted that the deal would take the beauty giant into a new world of opportunity. "It's an important step we are taking with Missoni," said Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos., at the signing, noting that Lauder's portfolio is largely American-focused. "In Europe, Missoni has a powerful base with an Italian name and we are seeing a tremendous resurgence with Italian designer fragrances in Europe."

William Lauder, president and chief executive officer of the Estée Lauder Cos., echoed that sentiment, saying the Missoni deal would give the company a stronger strategic presence in Europe. "From a beauty standpoint, we don't have penetration in Europe [and] our objective is to get market share in Europe," said Lauder in May. "There is room to enhance our brands and, of course, room to enhance our fragrance business here. We must do that and, to achieve it, we must have great brands like Missoni. Missoni is the first European brand for us and we hope it sends out a strong message that we want to be a global fragrance player."

While Missoni had dabbled in fragrance once before — signing a deal with Max Factor in the early Eighties that led to the launch of three scents — that license was terminated in 2000 and those scents were discontinued. Given the recent refocusing on the venerable fashion house's knitwear, which was given a sexy new edge, the time is right for a restaging of fragrance, noted Angela Missoni, creative director for the company that bears her family's name."Our goal has never been to be the largest company, but to be the best, the most special," said Missoni, calling the Lauder team "incredible — no matter what they asked, they never told us anything was impossible."

The Missoni juice, concocted by Trudi Loren, vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos. in cooperation with Symrise, has four accords, each named for a color Missoni is well-known for using in its brightly hued, abstractly patterned knitwear. The Radiant Yellows accord features Italian bergamot, succulent nespolo and magnolia petals. The Magenta Pinks accord has notes of peonies and dewy rose; the Intense Oranges accord has notes of sparkling mandarin, zesty bitter orange and juicy kaki, and the Chocolate Browns accord has notes of Gianduia chocolate and fluid amber. "The concept is celebrating the good life," added Diane Kim, vice president of global marketing for Aramis and Designer Fragrances.

The lineup includes eaux de parfum in three sizes — 1 oz. for $60, 1.7 oz. for $80 and 3.4 oz. for $110 — as well as an 0.5-oz. parfum for $300 and a 0.2-oz. parfum roller ball for $60. Ancillaries include a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $50, a face highlighter compact for $70 and a large pillar candle for $150. Each stockkeeping unit includes, somewhere, a piece of Missoni fabric — whether in an adornment tied to the fragrance bottle, or the sleek pouches that will serve as the containers for the brand's gift business.

The collection will roll out to doors in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and Italy in March, with other global markets to follow. In its first year, the Missoni line will be available in a tightly edited lineup of about 300 specialty store doors in the U.S., said Carol Russo, senior vice president and general manager of sales and marketing, North America, for the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of the Estée Lauder Cos. Those doors will include Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus in the U.S. and Holt Renfrew in Canada, she noted.

None of the executives would discuss projected sales or advertising spending, although industry sources estimate that the fragrance would do upward of $10 million in its first year on counter, and that at least $1 million would be spent on advertising and promotion.Advertising will also be a family affair: Angela Missoni's daughter, Margherita Missoni, will appear in the brand's advertising. "She's the perfect combination of smart and sexy — she's the perfect ‘It' girl for this brand," said Kim. The ad, shot by Burton Marcus, will begin appearing in March beauty, fashion and lifestyle magazines. The ad's tag line is "Life is more beautiful in colors."

An intensive sampling campaign will also be undertaken — it will include carded spray vials, deluxe miniatures, dramming and scented pillows, added Russo. More than 10 million scented impressions are planned, she said.

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