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MILAN — Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna is broadening the brand’s global reach this spring with the launch of the brand’s first men’s fragrance, Essenza di Zegna.
The scent — developed, produced and distributed in a partnership with YSL Beauté — was introduced here at the gilded Villa Necchi, once owned by an eccentric sewing machine heiress who bequeathed the house to FAI, an organization that promotes Italian ambience and culture. Anna Zegna, a granddaughter of the designer, said the reason behind holding the launch in Villa Necchi was because the marble entrance, high ceilings, architecture and, in particular, the smell reminded her of her grandfather’s house.
Chantal Roos, chairman and chief executive officer of YSL Beauté, said Essenza di Zegna is expected to attract appeal from a particular type of man. “The man is both classic and contemporary,” she said. “He is looking for a refined product. Essenza di Zegna is not ostentatious; it’s beautiful on the skin and something you like to look at on the bathroom table. The scent is not old-fashioned classic, but the classic of today.”
The Essenza di Zegna juice was created by Firmenich’s Alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavallier, and its sphere-shaped, thick glass-and-metal bottle was created by Doug Lloyd, an American designer. “It was great to have the classical style from Italy and the modernity from USA,” said Roos.
The scent’s inspiration is Mediterranean, and this is embodied by its composition. The fragrance has top notes of Sicilian mandarin and Calabrian bergamot, heart notes of Corsican myrtle, cardamom, pistacia and lentisk, and a dry-down of musk, amber and vetiver wood.
Roos said the juice was especially important to selling the scent, as the brand currently has a lower profile than many other designer names. “[Because of that], we have to make the notoriety [come from] the juice,” she said. “So far, everyone who has smelled it has really wanted to buy it.”
Essenza di Zegna will be launched worldwide in 30 countries on April 27. Globally, it will be available in about 4,000 points of sale, including department stores, perfumeries and Zegna stores. In the U.S., a 1.6-oz. eau de toilette spray will retail for $42, while the 3.3-oz. size will retail for $60. The 3.3-oz. aftershave lotion will retail for $40; the 3.3-oz. alcohol-free aftershave emulsion for $36, the 5.2-oz. scented soap for $19 and the 2.5-oz. alcohol-free deodorant stick for $18.
Roos refused to talk numbers, but industry sources estimated that the lineup will do about $20 million at retail globally in its first year.
Women customers, in particular, are also expected to drive the success of the scent. Gildo Zegna, co-chief executive officer of the fashion firm and a grandson of the founder, said that although Zegna is a masculine brand, the fragrance will “open it up to women.” This idea has been fortified by the scent’s intimate advertising campaign depicting a couple dancing, shot by Scandinavian photographer Michael Jansson.
Roos said the budget for advertising was “limited,” but that both single-page and double-page spreads were planned. Heavy sampling in all markets is also expected. “We will not have the same type of advertising budget as do the big fashion houses,” said Roos. “The advertising has to make people stop and, most importantly, women stop. In most cases, it is women who are the way into selling a men’s fragrance. And all women would love to have a little dance in the kitchen. “
Gildo Zegna said he was confident that Essenza di Zegna would extend the brand’s consumer reach. “It is time to increase traffic and attract more customers,” he said. “[The scent] will be an incredible power to get new customers and give our existing customers a chance to try something new. It will give more exposure to the brand and more reason for people to know Zegna.”