NEW YORK — Versace is gearing up for the U.S. launch of its latest scent, Versace Man, and the American management has the benefit of plenty of expert coaching.

“I wanted a fragrance that defines the new signature of a Versace man,” said Donatella Versace. Donatella, sister of legendary Gianni Versace, took the reigns to oversee its creation. “When we first launched fragrance, Gianni oversaw the men’s fragrances and I oversaw the women’s,” said Versace. “This is the first major men’s fragrance of this kind I have had the chance to develop.”

Versace Man was created by International Flavors & Fragrances and contains top notes of neroli, bergamot, angelica flowers and black pepper; middle notes of cardamom and saffron and bottom notes of living tobacco leaves, amber, labdanum cyst and Kashmir wood. “I wanted a fragrance with very strong emotions that has a soft side to it as well,” explained Versace. The lineup includes: a 3.4-oz. bottle that retails for $72 and a 1.7-oz. at $52. Ancillaries are an aftershave lotion for $40, a hair and body shower gel for $30 and a deodorant spray for $25. There will also be a gift set available for holiday.

Executives declined to comment on numbers, but industry sources estimate the fragrance could generate as much as $7 million in its first year at retail in the U.S.

The packaging was designed by Versace in conjunction with A/R media’s Tino Valentinitsch. The bottle, made of heavy violet glass, has a zigzag design on the sides. The secondary packaging boasts an alligator print on a fluorescent mauve background, which the company feels reflects the luxury accessories — belts, wallets, and brief cases — of the Versace man. “We are targeting the same man [with the fragrance] that we target with our fashion,” noted Versace.

“The men’s category represents 50 percent of our fashion business and I want to reach that same level of success with the fragrance. While Versace understands “this is a very high objective for the fragrance business,” she explained that “if you don’t think big you won’t succeed.” She added that the scent was formulated for “a confident man” that could be a strong, Wall Street business type or a real fashion person.The advertising visual was shot by Stephen Meisel and features Brazilian model Bruno Santos who also appears in Versace’s fashion ads. “It features a man with great style in a real place — an old world gentlemen’s club, and it shows great physical depth,” said Versace. “Being consistent with our core brand is essential. I really love this campaign. The trend in men’s fragrance advertising over the past several seasons has been to feature a naked man,” which Versace “absolutely did not want to do.” Though advertising plans for the U.S. have not yet been finalized, Versace Man will partake in co-op advertising this fall, where this visual will appear.

Versace Man will debut in 14 freestanding Versace boutiques in June and roll out to approximately 500 department stores beginning in August. The launch will be supported with in-store collaterals, vials-on-card and Liqua-touch samples, as well as blow-ins and scented inserts.

Six months after taking over as president and chief executive officer, Marjorie Wollan is joining with Italian parent company, Giver Profumi, to ramp up its fragrance presence in the U.S. As Wollan said, “I inherited an underdistributed fragrance channel,” referring to the 600-door network, which carries Versace’s 14 fragrances, or about 80 percent of the brand’s business in this country. She is hoping to change that with Versace Man.

Versace does a total beauty volume of about $20 million at retail in the U.S., according to industry estimates. Sources indicate that the launch of Versace Man can increase that volume to $25 million to $30 million within three years at retail.

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