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BEVERLY HILLS — With its all-white interior, from the skinny palm trees stretching to the ceiling to the bamboo framed shelf units, Penhaligon’s newest store, here on Rodeo Drive and the second in the U.S., marks the latest chapter in the company’s 137-year history.
This story first appeared in the May 30, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“This is the opposite of the traditional dark wood environment in our other stores,” said Joe Cicio, who only a few months ago came on board as senior vice president, retail marketing and product development, of Cradle Holdings Inc., which bought the British institution in early 2002. “We wanted to create something the traditional customer would be comfortable with. But we also want younger people to come in, look at the shop and go, ‘This is cool.’ ”
And it is. The whitewashed, 580-square-foot shop is filled with sunlight, giving it an airy freshness. The “trees” add a kind of fantastical quality that should easily resonate with a new generation of Penhaligon’s consumers. Overall, Peter Millard, the architect behind other company shops — including the new in-stores at Saks Fifth Avenue, delivered a selling environment that looks modern, without being minimal; decorative, without being overdone.
The door, at 439 North Rodeo Drive, opened May 13 with a ceremonial ribbon snip by actress Julia Ormond, there because the event, which had dozens of guests spilling out into the courtyard behind the store, benefited FilmAid International, which uses film to educate and entertain refugees worldwide. It was only the beginning of the company’s many other outreach plans to get its fragrances into the hands of the Hollywood community. During the Academy Awards weekend, the swag bag presented to 75 A-listers staying at the Beverly Hills contained plenty of Penhaligon’s.
Opening-night guests buzzed about the fragrances, the leather accessories and the unusual gifts — such as a tiny sterling silver egg to hold a baby’s first tooth, or cufflinks enameled with the British flag. “Hopefully, this is where people will drop in for unusual gifts,” said Jane Terker, president and chief operating officer, who co-founded Cradle early last year with fellow industry vet Robert A. Nielsen. The luxury company’s other brands are Erno Lazlo skin care and L’Artisan Parfumer.
Luxury brand retailers along Rodeo average sales of $800 to $1,000 a square foot, according to real estate observers.
Terker, the former president of Donna Karan Beauty, introduced Artemesia, the now best-selling fragrance in the company’s collection, last September.
This September, she adds Malabah, a much more exotic scent in the stable, inspired by India. Citrus top notes are paired with Eastern spicy ginger, cardamon and nutmeg and floral rose, orris, jasmine and violet on a base of dry sweet amber musk. Number 19 in the Penhaligon’s scent portfolio, the eau de toilette is contained in a bottle handpainted with gold-leaf paisley, and priced at $68 for a 50-ml. bottle and $90 for a 100-ml. bottle. Similarly, embellished cashmere shawls and burnt orange vanity cases and purses also will be merchandised with the line of bath and shower gel, soap and hand and body cream. Sources estimate the range will do $5 million at wholesale in its first year on counter.
On Monday, a new men’s scent called Endymion, named after a mythological Greek king, arrives in stores. But rather than triggering perpetual sleep, which befell its namesake, Endymion is designed “to keep the [Penhaligon’s] line revitalized,” said Terker. Endymion will target men as young as 20 — a decade or two younger than Penhaligon’s typical male customer. “We’re trying to create more fragrances that are a little more sophisticated, a little more complex,” she added.
Endymion is the first men’s fragrance launch in four years and ninth men’s scent overall. It features olfactory notes of bergamot and mandarin at the top; blond woods, nutmeg and vetiver at the core, and amber, leather and musk at the base. Fragrance Resources blended the juice for the cologne, which comes in a 100-ml. bottle for $70 and a 50-ml. version for $45. Shower gel, shave cream and aftershave will accompany the fragrance. Industry sources estimated Endymion could do $2.5 million in wholesale sales worldwide in its first year.
Penhaligon’s distribution counts nearly 140 doors worldwide, including 62 in Germany and 21 Saks Fifth Avenue stores. Another seven Saks boutiques are slated to open by summer’s end, bringing the total to 14.
As for freestanding doors, Rodeo Drive is only the beginning. A London image flagship is on the search list; there are now 12 freestanding Penhaligon’s in the U.K. And it is on the lookout for a New York address larger than the Madison store, which comes in just under 200 square feet.
“There are other markets we’re looking at,” Terker confirmed. “We’re not just going to be a two-store entity in the U.S. It’s a country with enormous potential for this brand because there’s nothing like it.”