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.

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