By and  on March 17, 2007

MILAN — Versace is returning to its classic roots with an eponymous fragrance — its first scent entirely developed by Euroitalia since the manufacturer acquired the license for an estimated $63.8 million, mostly in advance royalties, in December 2004. "This is the right product to put Versace back on the top niche of retail," said Claudio Tenan, export director at Euroitalia. "We worked on every detail to improve the perception of the brand. We needed to take the Versace scent franchise up worldwide. Everyone put 100 percent of their talent and effort behind this. In each market, we are being very selective, and will treat it at the highest end of the market."Euroitalia has finely tuned a two-tier launch plan for Versace, which will bow first in the U.K., Italy and the U.S., with a worldwide rollout beginning in September. The scent, produced by International Flavors & Fragrances and Donatella Versace, is a fresh floral, a departure from Versace's heady, more intense fragrances of the past. It has top notes of guava, black current, purple wisteria and white lilacs, a heart of Angel Wing jasmine, lotus flowers and azaleas, and a drydown of cedar, Kasmir wood, musk and vetiver. In the U.S., two sizes of eau de parfum sprays will be offered at launch: a 1.7-oz. bottle for $70 and a 3.4-oz. version for $90. In an interview with WWD, designer Donatella Versace said she had a strong vision for the new scent."I wanted to create a fragrance that embraces you — that is fresh, floral and enticing — and that would become a distinctive mark for the Versace woman who is always sensual and sophisticated, particularly when selecting her perfume. My starting point was to create a classic perfume, an important and timeless scent, to be worn at any time of the day, providing that extra dash of glamour that puts the finishing touch to every outfit," she said.The designer, whose ready-to-wear collection she showed last month in Milan received positive reviews for its pared-down pizzazz, said she wanted to encapsulate both new and historic aspects of the fashion brand in the scent's smell and look. To that end, the bottle, which Versace designed, features the fashion house's Medusa head studded in the center of the flacon and the golden stopper decorated in a Grecian fret design traditionally used by the fashion brand."I knew I wanted to create a unique and opulent floral fragrance that was at the same time fresh and enticing, in keeping with the way women want to wear fragrance today. I knew I wanted something classic but modern at the same time. I knew I wanted something that represented both the tradition of the brand and the ‘New Versace' of today," said Versace.When asked how involved she was in the creation of the scent, Versace affirmed she holds an affinity for the beauty business. Last year, pictures of her Milan apartment published in an Italian decor magazine depicted her personal bathroom fitted with a glass cabinet of fragrances. "Anyone who knows me well knows I am particularly passionate about fragrances and frequently experiment myself by mixing different scents," said Versace.In the U.S., the scent will launch in April and will be exclusive to Saks Fifth Avenue, in 54 of its doors, until yearend. "Saks is growing its Versace business at a great pace, and we believe they're a perfect partner for the fragrance, as well," said Connie Ruscio, vice president and general manager of Fragrances Elite International LLC, which is the sales agent in the U.S. for Euroitalia, Lolita Lempicka Fragrances and Canali Fragrances. In 2008, the new scent will roll out to about 500 U.S. department and specialty store doors, including Nordstrom and Sephora.Globally, the scent will launch at Harrods in the United Kingdom next week, to be followed by Italy and the U.S. Donatella Versace will make two personal appearances: one in the U.S. at Saks Fifth Avenue's Manhattan flagship in May, and one at Harrods in London next Thursday, noted Alessandra Giansanti Zorlas, marketing director for Euroitaly, the American arm of Euroitalia. Euroitalia plans a print advertising campaign for the scent. The campaign, shot by Michelangelo DiBattista, will begin running this fall in fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. Outside of the U.S., TV advertising will also run; in the U.S., the video will be shown at counter.Upward of 20,000 deluxe miniatures are planned in the U.S. In-store, the brand is aiming for at least three million scented impressions, said Ruscio. While Ruscio wouldn't comment on projected sales or advertising and promotional spending, industry sources estimated that advertising for the Versace fragrance franchise in the U.S. would top $5 million by yearend. In terms of sales, sources estimated that the overall Versace fragrance franchise would do $30 million at retail in the U.S. in the next 12 months, with the new scent expected to account for about $5 million of that figure.A men's counterpart to the new fragrance will be launched in 2008, said Tenan, and a revival of the color cosmetics line could follow.

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