By and  on February 3, 2006

NEW YORK — Tom Ford is feeling blue — the blue of the Mediterranean sea, that is — with Azurée, his second collection for the Estée Lauder brand.

"I love that Estée blue," said Ford, of the iconic aqua shade that the brand's founder used in the Sixties and Seventies. Later, Lauder packaging featured rich navy tones. "Also, I really wanted to exaggerate that cartouche [the stylized gold logo that Lauder products carried in the Sixties and Seventies]. I loved that Estée created this mythical place, Azurée, by combining an idea of the Côte d'Azur with her name. It's hysterical and wonderful."

The designer has long been adept at creating modern interpretations of classics, a skill he perfected at the Gucci Group and honed at Estée Lauder —and Azurée follows firmly in that tradition. History, Ford opines, gives a venerable brand a point of difference.

"Sometimes, it's easier for an outsider to come in and see those key things that give you that great brand identity," said Ford in an exclusive telephone interview Wednesday. "In the Nineties, things became transparent, clean and simple. Right now, I think what a lot of us are looking for is authenticity — taking retro things and incorporating them into the brand. It reminds people that the brands have a history."

John Demsey, global president of the Estée Lauder and MAC Cosmetics brands, agreed. "Tom showed us that we should relish and celebrate our heritage," he said.

Lauder introduced the first Azurée, a Mediterranean beach-inspired fragrance, in 1969. Ford's version, due in May, takes the Azurée lifestyle vision that Lauder built and, for the most part, translates it into color cosmetics — although a body oil spray in the Ford lineup can double as a light summer scent. That new creation is built around a tiare milk accord that comprises Tahitian gardenia petals mixed with coconut and orange blossoms.

The original leaned heavily on top notes of fresh citrus and floral, a heart of basil and spearmint and a drydown of oak moss and deep woods.

And Estée herself would like the collection, said Aerin Lauder, senior vice president of global creative directions for Estée Lauder. "It's modern Estée," she said. "It's very us. The heritage makes our classic customers comfortable, and the Ford edge draws in new customers."

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