By  on February 3, 2006

NEW YORK — Marc Jacobs plans to wade back into the fragrance spotlight this spring with Marc Jacobs Splash, a trio of limited-edition scents.

Rain, Grass and Cotton, coming in April, make up the first major fragrance offering for Jacobs since Coty Prestige launched Blush in September 2004. But while the fragrance industry continues to churn out launches at an prodigious rate, Jacobs — an admitted perfectionist — is content to aim for quality, rather than sheer quantity.

"I always liked the concept of a fragrance someone could wear without it being too precious," Jacobs said Thursday afternoon, in the midst of preparing for his upcoming runway shows. "I was trying to move away from the concept that fragrance is only meant to sit on a shelf and be dotted on the wrist, sparingly, for special occasions. Everything about Splash is meant to be more casual or lighthearted: the scents, the colors, the big bottle with its oversize proportions. All three scents are things that always smell good to me. They aren't ‘occasion' scents — they are meant to invite you to use as much as possible, whenever you like."

Coty and Jacobs are working on an additional major fragrance concept, although Jacobs devotees will have a wait on their hands: It isn't expected to launch until 2007, said Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of American fragrances for Coty Prestige.

Splash's three scents — which cheekily could be called a Neiman Marcus version of the Jean Naté body splashes popular in the Seventies and Eighties — have a musky, woody base in common, said Walsh, although their top notes and hearts differ. Their oil concentrations are around 8 percent, rather than the 10 to 12 percent concentration typically seen for an eau de toilette and the 15 to 18 percent concentration that is normal for an eau de parfum.

"We were aiming for affordable luxury with this launch, not something precious," said Michael D'Arminio, vice president of global marketing for the Marc Jacobs fragrance business. "It's supposed to be easy, fun and casual." To that end, the team worked on developing proprietary notes that resulted in a Tropical Rain accord developed by International Flavors and Fragrances for Rain, fresh green accords from Firmenich for Grass and the Marc T Signature Accord developed by Takasago for Cotton.Rain, concocted by IFF's Laurent LeGuernic, is built around the proprietary Tropical Rain accord, which was developed with IFF's Living Technology technique. It opens with top notes of wet cut grass, wild strawberry, clementine zest and dewy cypress. Its heart is of tropical passion flower, sunshine flower and white orchid, and its drydown is of beech amber, tree moss, teak wood and musk.

Grass, with a juice by Azniv Buzantian of Firmenich, is classified as a fresh green scent. Its top notes are of freshly snapped snow peas and lush green accords; its heart is of wildflowers and white muguet, and its drydown is of soft woods and dewy musks.

Cotton, by Carlos Vinals of Takasago, is a fresh floral musk. Top notes are of fresh linen breezes and liquid oxygen mixed with white peach, citrus mandarin, orange and bergamot; its heart comprises the proprietary Marc T Signature Accord, cotton flower, lavandin and lily of the valley, and its drydown is of cotton musk, smooth white suede, rich sandalwood and blond woods. "We were aiming to have an element of your favorite old T-shirt in this fragrance," said Walsh.

All will be available in one size, a 10-oz. splash, and each will retail for $65. Although they're intended as splash formulations, Coty will package each with a spray pump.

The heavy glass bottles are deceptively simple, said D'Arminio. "They're not stock packaging, although at first glance you could mistake them for that," he said. "But every aspect of this bottle was tweaked — the corners, the proportions — until it was perfect." Each of the scents are tinted: Rain is a pale violet, Grass is a pale green and Cotton is a pale amber.

The Splash lineup will be introduced in a tightly edited lineup of doors — fewer than 500 U.S. specialty stores, and a handful of global markets, which are expected to include the U.K., France, Australia and Asia. In the U.S., Splash will be available in Jacobs' stores, as well as in Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstom. While neither Walsh nor D'Arminio would comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that the Splash collection would do about $5 million at retail globally. It is expected to be sold through by the end of the summer.While Coty plans to produce all three scents in equal quantities, Walsh is putting her chips on Rain. "They'll all do well," she said, "but I think Rain will do especially well."

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