MILAN — Gucci Group creative director Tom Ford is putting a new signature on his ever-expanding fragrance empire.

It comes in the form of Gucci Pour Homme, a new men’s fragrance that will be launched in the U.S. at the end of September; in Italy, France and Germany and Spain in October, and rolled out in Asia in 2004. It is the eighth Gucci fragrance to be launched in the Ford era.

Gucci Pour Homme is the first men’s release from Gucci since the launch of Gucci Rush for Men in 2000. Speaking just before Gucci’s spring-summer 2004 men’s show here, Tom Ford, wearing custom-made Gucci cowboy boots, said the fragrance heralds a return to an earlier era.

“It’s a classic man’s fragrance — and I think we are going back to that,” said Ford. “Gucci Pour Homme is a very warm, very sexy, very masculine fragrance in the kind of vein that you would have maybe found in the Seventies.”

Gucci Pour Homme’s classic positioning is not just because of its scent but also the packaging, according to Ford. “The bottle is old glass — it is really quite heavy, and there are some details with the stamping on the bottom which is really classic,” says Ford.

The heavy rectangular bottle with its thick dark brown metal cap and engraved geometric base was designed by Ford with help from Gucci art director Doug Lloyd. The scent is boxed in a black-and-white check-print carton.

“The idea was to go with something a little classic but kind of a little old fashioned, too, with the classic men’s Sixties, Seventies pattern and it’s a play on the stamp on the bottom of the bottle,” Ford explained. “The juice is quite warm — it’s an amber color. I always think that the color needs to relate to what’s inside — just like the packaging and the advertising needs to all be one concept — so the color is a little bit like cognac or scotch.”

The driving look of the scent’s positioning is the slick black-and-white advertising campaign, featuring American model David Smith reclining in a Gucci suit and thick tie, shot by Marcus Piggott.“I wanted the idea of this very classic guy,” said Ford. “[David Smith] is contemporary and modern. He’s dressed in a suit and tie because I’m personally in the mood for ties, I have been wearing a lot of ties lately — maybe it’s because I am living in London and to go to a lot of places you have to wear a tie and a jacket.”

Belonging to the spicy-woody family, Gucci Pour Homme’s distinct smell has been made heady by ingredients including white pepper, ginger, papyrus wood, Orris Rhizome, amber and leather.

“I love the smell,” said Ford. “There is a lot of my personality in it, because I am constantly drawn to warm fragrances like amber and patchouli. Fragrance is something you wear on your skin, so there should be a sensual quality about it.” Gucci Pour Homme’s juice was produced by Robertet under Ford’s creative direction.

The line will include eau de toilette sprays in 1.7 oz. and 3.4 oz. for $45 and $62, respectively; a 3.4-oz. aftershave lotion for $45; a 6.8-oz. all-over shampoo for $25, and a 2.5-oz. antiperspirant/deodorant stick for $17.

Accompanying the launch will be a holiday gift set, a first for the Gucci brand, according to Donald J. Loftus, president and chief executive officer of the New York-based Cosmopolitan Cosmetics Inc. Wella AG, Cosmopolitan’s parent company, which holds the Gucci beauty license.

The fragrance will be launched in about 450 doors in the U.S., primarily specialty stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, select Bloomingdale’s and all Gucci boutiques. That’s a more targeted distribution for the brand, Loftus noted, adding that in the past, the Gucci distribution was four times larger. Loftus estimated the door count will swell to 600 by Valentine’s Day and top out at 750 a year after launch.

No one would talk numbers, but industry sources estimate that Cosmopolitan is aiming for a first-year retail sales target of $15 million in the U.S. and $70 million at retail globally. To achieve those numbers, the company would have to invest upward of $29 million globally in total advertising, promotion and in-store support, including more than $6 million in the U.S. Promotion will include heavy sampling, scented strips in magazines and catalogs and liberal use of rotators.Launch work does not stop in Milan. The Gucci house, which owns YSL Beauté, has geared themselves up for a new Yves Saint Laurent fragrance launch next week in Paris.

“It’s based on an older YSL fragrance [a men’s and women’s Rive Gauche] that already existed so it already had a footprint. But it is a completely new fragrance and has completely new packaging,” said Ford.

But Ford’s OK with the workload because he says he enjoys it.

“Compared to other things I do, creating perfumes is relatively painless,” said Ford. “Sometimes you kill yourself for designs, a shirt that’s gone in a season and then the collection is over and you have to think of something new. There’s something nice about the permanence of fragrance. Think how great the guy who developed Opium must feel — it’s still great, it’s still out there, it’s still going.”

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