By  on February 7, 2003

NEW YORK — Prada Beauty plans to continue fashioning its growth this spring by building on its skin-care strengths — with a twist.The brand’s first-quarter introductions all focus on a skin-care base that adds "a visual finish." And for Jill Scalamandre, general manager of Prada’s beauty arm, Cosmetics International Distribution, the strategy is simply a matter of common sense. "Serious skin care is our focus," she said. "That said, there’s no reason why you can’t have good aesthetics with serious skin care."Scalamandre shies away from terming the products color cosmetics. "They have a hint of color, but these aren’t part of a color line," she said. "We’re not walking away from treatment. This isn’t about covering up skin. It’s about making skin better."The first of the products is Hydrating Gel Cream Matte, a moisturizer with a powder finish. Key ingredients include salicylic acid, vitamin C and kojic acid to minimize pores; phytoderm sugars and yeast to moisten and soften skin, and micro-powders to absorb excess oils, explained Jan-Henrik Schlossmann, vice president of marketing. First road-tested at Prada’s runway show last fall, the product launches in March. A package with five 3-ml. applications retails for $47.Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 15/Tint, which follows in April, will be available in four shades: Glow, Pale, Medium and Bronze. A tinted moisturizer, it contains caffeine, yeast, phytoderm sugars and hyaluronic acid to stimulate and hydrate skin, and micronized minerals to even out skin tone. "You can’t manipulate the size of a pore, but you can alter its appearance," said Scalamandre. A package with five 3-ml. applications retails for $40.Prada is also offering a gift set for Valentine’s Day, called Treat and Finish. Retailing for $95, the set includes a Prada cosmetics bag and tinted lip glosses in red and pink, as well as skin-care mini-doses. "Customers are responding well to the gift sets because they not only get the products, they get a Prada fashion item," said Scalamandre, who noted that the brand’s three holiday 2002 sets — ranging in price from $42 to $130 — sold through well before Christmas. "We’ll be expanding the projections on those for the next holiday season," she said with a wry smile.Neither Scalamandre nor Schlossmann would comment on first-year sales projections, but industry sources estimated that the three products together would generate about $5 million at retail globally.Sampling will be a key part of the campaign, with 60,000 Matte samples planned for launch, plus 160,000 samples of the tints planned to be distributed between April and June. An advertorial campaign is also planned for April and will appear in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Allure and Elle, mentioned Schlossmann.While neither of the executives would comment, the brand is also said to be working on a fragrance, which could launch in the fourth quarter of 2003 or the first quarter of 2004.Prada Beauty items are available in just 90 doors globally — 40 perfumeries, 30 specialty department stores and 20 Prada boutiques in key cities. By region, there are 28 beauty doors in the U.S., 10 in Asia and 52 in Europe.

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