By  on January 23, 2009

PARIS — In a bid to begin boldly bolstering its business, YSL Beauté will launch La Nuit de L’Homme — a men’s scent from Yves Saint Laurent Parfums — due out at the end of February.

It is the first major project to come to market since YSL Beauté was integrated into L’Oréal seven months ago. And it is meant to create a new pillar for the brand, whose bestselling men’s scent, L’Homme, was introduced in 2006 and is now in the top 15 men’s fragrances worldwide.

Renaud de Lesquen, president of YSL Beauté, explained that whereas the two fragrances share some elements, they have separate identities. Olfactively, the new scent is a fresh oriental, whereas its predecessor is a fresh woody, for instance.

La Nuit de L’Homme’s juice — conceived by International Flavors & Fragrances perfumers Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion and Pierre Wargnye — is meant to have the duality of YSL fashion thanks to its three pairs of olfactive opposites. In the top are notes of cardamom and bergamot; the heart includes cedar and lavender notes, while the base has vetiver and coumarin notes.

La Nuit de L’Homme’s positioning differs from YSL’s prior seven men’s scents, according to YSL executives.

“With L’Homme, Yves Saint Laurent started definitely to portray more classic masculinity with some codes that we carried on using [for La Nuit de L’Homme],” said Nathalie Durán, deputy managing director of YSL Beauté. These include the shape of the bottle and the cap, whose hexagon form is supposed to evoke urbanity.

However, La Nuit de L’Homme is positioned as a more edgy, daring and sensual proposition, the executives added.

“It’s all about playing, freedom and gambling,” said Durán. In part, that’s represented by the choice of the fragrance’s face.

“We wanted an ambassador that really embodies this new masculinity,” said De Lesquen. Actor Vincent Cassel, who’s been in a spate of movies including “La Haine,” “Dobermann” and “Ocean’s Twelve,” was chosen.

“He is a very interesting actor” with a very specific type of seduction, De Lesquen said.

With the iconic photos by Helmut Newton of Yves Saint Laurent fashion in mind, photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott shot the black-and-white print advertising image, which comes in single and double pages. It features a smoldering Cassel flanked by two adoring women.

Cassel suggested Gaspar Noé as the director for the film campaign, which comes in 30-, 20-, 15- and 10-second takes. It shows Cassel walking through a throng of admiring women.

La Nuit de L’Homme’s international launch begins at the end of February in Spain, then moves to France and the rest of Europe. In the U.S., there will be an exclusive at Bloomingdale’s for March and April.

The line includes 40-, 60- and 100-ml. eau de toilette sprays and a 150-ml. spray deodorant, whose prices in France are 42 euros, or $54.40 at current exchange; 55 euros, or $71.30; 76.50 euros, or $99.10, and 26.50 euros, or $34.35, respectively.

While YSL executives would not discuss sales projections, industry sources estimate La Nuit de L’Homme will generate $80 million in first-year retail sales.

De Lesquen said that La Nuit de L’Homme and L’Homme should help build each other’s business. “It’s the beginning of the very strong comeback of Yves Saint Laurent on the fragrance scene,” he explained. “The ambition with the new men’s fragrance is to enter the top 10 [worldwide].”

At present, the brand does not have any individual fragrance with that ranking.

“Yves Saint Laurent is definitely one of the key players in the beauty market; it is in the top 10 worldwide with two very strong activities — makeup and fragrance, with a very strong position in Europe and more fields of opportunity in the U.S. and Asia,” continued De Lesquen, who added each of those product categories (which represent about 40 percent and 55 percent, respectively, of the brand’s business) is ranked eighth globally.

Of YSL’s fragrance business, women’s scents ring up 65 percent and men’s 35 percent. YSL skin care, said De Lesquen, will be a focus starting in 2010.

Growing the YSL brand is key to expanding YSL Beauté, since it generates more than 80 percent of YSL Beauté’s revenues. The objective is to double YSL Beauté’s revenues within 10 years, said De Lesquen. In 2007, it generated 649 million euros, or $889.6 million at average exchange.

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