Byline: S. L.

NEW YORK — When designer Vicky Tiel launched her first fragrance in 1990, she based her strategy on a simple notion: Sex sells.

The signature scent’s bottle was ornamented with nude glass figurines, while the fragrance itself contained “every aphrodisiac known to man,” Tiel said during an interview here last Friday.

But while the first fragrance has established a solid niche in Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, the designer said, her second effort, Sirene, is a more “accessible” product. Not only are the price points lower, she noted, but the juice is less potent.

“Sirene is the sister fragrance, but it’s really the opposite in character,” she said, noting that in French, sirene refers to both mermaids and the alluring sirens of Greek myth.

“With the first one, you loved it or hated it, but this one is more wearable. It’s an old-fashioned feminine fragrance,” Tiel added.

The change of pace has apparently paid off: Sirene was launched at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman on Mother’s Day and logged more than $200,000 at retail through the end of June, according to Jeffrey Dame, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Parlux, Tiel’s licensee.

“It’s been way ahead of plan,” he said. “The surprising thing is that we’re selling a lot of the perfume at $275 a bottle, which means it’s being accepted.”

While noting the popularity of the perfume, Dame said a 3.4-oz. eau de parfum spray, the best-selling size in both Tiel fragrances, costs $70 for the Sirene version, compared with $120 in the original line.

“It’s still a prestige price, but it’s much more affordable,” he said.

John Stabenau, vice president and divisional merchandise manager at Neiman Marcus, said the fragrance has been “doing very well.”

As for promotion, Dame said Parlux has “an aggressive program” for the remainder of the year, when Sirene will remain exclusive at Bergdorf’s and the 27 Neiman’s doors.

A full-time rotater staff has been “spritzing like crazy,” he said, while deluxe miniature samples are being given away.

 

The two stores’ catalogs also feature the product.

In addition, a print advertising campaign began in March and will continue through the year. The ad has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and The New York Times, among other publications.

“The goal is to do over $1 million at retail this year in Neiman’s and Bergdorf Goodman,” Dame said.

In September, Parlux will begin rolling out Sirene to Central and South America, he said, with the U.S. distribution slated for expansion at the beginning of next year.

“We want to have a visible business, but we probably won’t go over 600 doors,” Dame said, noting that a scented print campaign will begin next spring to coincide with the American rollout.

Spending for advertising and promotion will be “dollar for dollar in ’95,” he said, meaning around $5 million or $6 million.

The Sirene scent, a floral-oriental, was created by Hugh Spencer at Florasynth. The top notes are orange flower, geranium and peach; the middle notes are jasmine, muguet and violet, and the dry down is woodsy, with a vanilla note.

In an unusual move, Tiel decided to package the new item with the same bottle design that houses her original fragrance, although with a different color juice.

The bottle’s stopper is fashioned in the shape of a nude woman, complementing the four nudes that ring the outside. Tiel collaborated with Pierre Dinand on the design.

“I started to look for outside help when I wanted to do Sirene, because I couldn’t afford the advertising anymore,” said Tiel, who launched her first fragrance on her own. “When I spoke to Parlux, they surprised me because they thought it was a great idea to use the same bottle design again. When they let me do that, I knew they were the right company.”

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