Claiborne to Retake Ellen Tracy License
NEW YORK — In a deal expected to be announced today, Liz Claiborne Inc., owner of the Ellen Tracy apparel line, will end its existing Ellen Tracy beauty licensing agreement with Cosmopolitan Cosmetics.
According to Art Spiro, president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics, the two companies have agreed to transition the beauty license back to Claiborne over the next six months, with the deal expected to be completely closed by yearend.
Spiro noted that the parting was an amicable one, and said bringing the Ellen Tracy apparel and fragrance businesses together would allow both entities to explore synergies and position themselves for growth.
“The core Ellen Tracy business is strong and we’re looking forward to explore its many opportunities,” said Spiro.
Cosmopolitan Cosmetics was granted the Ellen Tracy beauty license in August 1998 by its former majority stockholders, Herb Gallen and Linda Allard. The duo, along with the company’s other stockholders, sold the Ellen Tracy apparel business to Liz Claiborne Inc. in September 2002 in a deal estimated to have topped $180 million.
Spiro emphasized that the transition would not interrupt existing business for the beauty brand’s portfolio, which includes the Ellen Tracy and Ellen Tracy Imagine women’s scents. He said the first order of business would be to examine all aspects of the Ellen Tracy beauty business, including the existing product portfolio, its distribution and its inventory levels.
“The Ellen Tracy apparel offices are in our building, which will give us easy access for brainstorming sessions,” said Spiro. “And having both the apparel and beauty licenses under the umbrella of the same company will allow us to explore cross-merchandising and other growth opportunities.”
Spiro said he would like to create another Ellen Tracy women’s scent — possibly for high-end specialty store distribution. He said, however, that a new scent would not be brought to market before spring 2006. — Julie Naughton
Bond No. 9, a Bit of N.Y.
NEW YORK — Laurice Rahme, founder of Bond No. 9, is still in a New York state of mind.
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The company will introduce two unisex fragrances under its Bond No. 9 collection, which currently consists of 19 Big Apple-inspired scents. Little Italy is slated to debut in September and Wall Street will follow in November.
“We wanted to celebrate the reconstruction of downtown,” said Rahme of why she chose Little Italy and Wall Street. The gastronomic delights of Little Italy were the inspiration behind its namesake scent.
Roberté Francis-Camaille of Robertet blended Little Italy, a combination of clementine, grapefruit, and mandarin top notes with a heart of tangerine and jasmine, and base notes including sheer musk. It is available in an orange rendition of Bond No. 9’s signature star-shaped bottle, adorned with a gold subway token insignia. A 3.4-oz. container will retail for $168. It will also be available by the ounce for $40, or in a 2-oz. spray version for $25, as well as in an array of colored bottles for $40. Vintage and art bottles will also be offered, priced from $60 to $200. The September launch was chosen because it coincides with Little Italy’s celebration of the Feast of San Gennaro. A 6-oz. candle will also be available in October.
Bond No. 9’s other offering, Wall Street, is less explicit in its origin. Rahme noted Wall Street was not meant to be an allusion to money, but rather an olfactive rendering of the New York harbor air.
Dave Apel from Givaudan created the watery scent, which features top notes of cucumber and sea kale; middle notes of ozone, marine aroma, and lavender, and bottom notes of sheer musk. The 3.4-oz. star bottle is rendered in black lacquer with an apropos scattering of gold tokens. It will retail for $190. In addition, a 1.5-oz. size will be available for $110. As is the case with Little Italy, spray versions and art bottles will be offered with Wall Street in November.
Industry sources estimate the two fragrances could generate $1 million at retail in their first year on the market.
Little Italy ads will break in September issues of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and will appear in the October issue of W. Wall Street ads will be featured in W and Vogue. About $1 million is expected to be spent on advertising.
Bond No. 9 is available at the company’s headquarters at 90 Bond Street, as well as at 680 Madison Avenue and 897 Madison Avenue. While the collection is currently available in 10 Saks Fifth Avenue doors, five Saks doors will be added at launch time. Bond No. 9 is also negotiating the opening of a fourth location in the West Village and is in talks to expand internationally with Harvey Nichols, as well as into outlets in the Middle East, Germany and Italy.
Rahme noted the brand is developing a West Side Stories fragrance for Valentine’s Day, housed in a bottle decorated by an F.I.T. student.
Rahme plans to continue to slowly build the brand. “When you have New York City as a muse,” she remarked, “you cannot afford to make any mistakes.” — Stephanie Leigh LaCava