By  on March 19, 2010

John Varvatos is infusing a touch of noir into his fragrance wardrobe with the introduction this spring of a limited edition men’s scent, called Artisan Black.

The fragrance follows by about a year the launch of Artisan, the designer’s third major men’s scent, which was projected by industry sources to do upward of $15 million in retail sales in the U.S. — and has performed well, according to executives.

Nicholas Ratut, president of Varvatos’ fragrance licensee, JV Fragrances & Skincare, a unit of Shiseido Americas Corp, said the idea behind Artisan Black was to “capitalize on the success of Artisan and offer a stronger scent to the Artisan wearer.

“This is a longer lasting — more woodsy and musky — version of Artisan,” noted Ratut, who added, “Our [Varvatos] men’s fragrance business in the U.S. was up 75 percent in 2009 versus 2008 [and] a lot of the increase is due to Artisan. By launching Artisan, we have not cannibalized [the designer’s existing] Classic or Vintage [scents] which have also been up.”

Artisan accounted for 34 percent of Varvatos’ total men’s fragrance business last year, according to company executives, who added that sales of Varvatos’ personal care business as a whole, which includes his women’s fragrance and his men’s skin care line, were up 36 percent last year. Meanwhile, the original Classic scent, a 2004 launch, saw an 18 percent increase and the designer’s Vintage scent, launched in 2006, was up 12 percent.

The Varvatos fragrance business as a whole is said by industry sources to be about $30 million at retail globally, with roughly 66 percent of that generated in the U.S.

“We came off of an unbelievable year in fragrance,” Varvatos said in an interview. “[The] fragrances that we have are working well — both our Classic [and] Vintage [scents] and then Artisan, which has exploded out there.

“It’s been great because usually when you’re launching new things, some things go down, but they’ve all had nice increases,” the designer added. “We have a lot of momentum with the brand; we’re still growing quickly. It says something about things that are iconic versus trendy.”

Nicholas Munafo, president of Beauté Prestige International USA, a division of Shiseido that distributes Varvatos’ scents in the U.S., said the Artisan Black launch is designed to play a strategic role. “It’s really to animate the entire [Varvatos] franchise,” he said. While Varvatos fragrances are found in about 1,700 doors in 34 countries, Artisan Black will only be launched in the U.S. and Canada. The eau de toilette will be priced at $78 for 125 ml., and 15,000 bottles are being produced for the U.S. market, according to industry sources. That would mean sales in the U.S. of almost $1.2 million if the fragrance were to fully sell through.

Artisan Black is due to reach about 900 doors by April 1, a distribution network that includes Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Givaudan perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux composed Artisan Black, which has top notes of tangerine, Meyer lemon, Italian blood orange and Givaudan’s captive calypsone. The heart of the scent features Murraya flower, Tunisian neroli, Moroccan orange flower templar, Indian sambac absolute, Nigerian ginger, purple ginger, cardamom absolute and coriander seeds. And, in the base of the scent are notes of Kephalis, Belambre, Boisiris, Serenolide, Vetyvert CO2 extract, patchouli Singapore Orpur, Mexican cueramo, soft leather and Florentine orris absolute.

Like the Artisan bottle, the Artisan Black flacon was designed by Jon Cisler. And, whereas the Artisan bottle features a caramel-colored rattan cover, Artisan Black also features the woven cover but with a shiny black finish. The cap is also finished in shiny black.

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