NEW YORK -- Thierry Mugler's Angel is very gradually spreading its wings.
The women's fragrance line, which was launched in the U.S. a year ago, has been slowly expanding -- in both its product range and its distribution -- and meticulously carving a niche in the designer market.
In mid-November, two products will be added -- a limited edition version of Angel's eau de parfum and a Celestial Body Cream. They will be the line's eighth and ninth items.
The body cream, priced at $75 for a 6.9-oz. jar, contains botanical ingredients -- aloe, kiwi and perhydrosqualene -- to help moisturize, soothe and smooth the skin.
"The end result is the skin is smelling good and feeling good," said Benjamin Gillikin, general manager of the New York-based Thierry Mugler Parfums, a joint venture between the designer and Clarins.
"It's a traditional fragrance body cream with treatment claims," Gillikin said, noting that it is not meant to be portrayed as a skin care product.
As for the other item that will be launched in mid-November, the special edition eau de parfum, only 750 pieces will be sold in the U.S., according to the company. Each refillable 2.6-oz. bottle will be numbered and will sell for $250.
The selling point is the stopper, which is made of a glass similar to crystal, except there is no lead content, which according to Gillikin has acquired an image of being ecologically unfriendly. He added that the stopper is a heavy piece of handmade and polished glass.
The star-shaped bottle is similar to the 2.6-oz. spray eau de parfum that was originally launched with the line and retails for $150. The difference between the two versions is that the $150 version has a metallized plastic cap.
Gillikin envisions doing a special edition series every year. "The idea behind it," he said, "is to have a new stopper every year."
While Gillikin declined to discuss sales projections or advertising budgets, sources say that Mugler expects the two new items to provide a 25 percent increase in total sales. Angel is expected to do $6 million in retail sales this year, up from last year's $3 million.Meanwhile, distribution has grown from 80 doors last year. It is expected to reach 125 doors by the end of this year.
Gillikin has been nurturing the fledgling company detail by detail. The company adds special touches to its merchandising, right down to the blue Christmas boxes emblazoned with shooting stars and planets, and the notes tucked into each box, inviting customers to send in comments.
Prior to the launch of the body cream, Mugler will distribute 250,000 four-color mailers containing packets of Angel body lotion. They will be disseminated between mid-September and October. From October to Dec. 1, 500,000 Scent Seals filled with the Angel eau de parfum will be distributed through beauty advisers.
Prior to the introduction, the body cream also will be sampled at store counters. In addition, Gillikin is putting together a consumer mailing.
The company runs a national print advertising campaign with magazines such as Elle, W, Gourmet, Avenue and Harper's Bazaar, with an annual budget that reportedly amounts to $300,000, including less than $100,000 for store catalogs.
The company also experiments. Empty 0.33-oz. replicas of the star-shaped Angel bottle will be included in place settings at charity dinners that will be hosted by I. Magnin in San Francisco on Sept. 19 and in Beverly Hills on Sept. 22.
Guests will be invited to take their empty bottles to a Mugler counter for filling. Gillikin's aim is to draw people into the stores and expose them to the rest of the line.
He noted, "We are out to establish the names Thierry Mugler and Angel."
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