BERLIN — As designer Wolfgang Joop knows, even a wunderkind gets wrinkles. But his new Wunderkind Max-Cell antiaging skin care range is out to fight telltale lines by “maximizing the cells’ inner strength from the outside.”

The eight-unit series was developed and produced by Mercatura Cosmetics Biotech AG, in Bremen, Germany. “It’s a matter of design and couture meeting high-tech cosmetics,” said Andreas Michaelis, chief executive officer of Mercatura. He said Mercatura’s high-potency recipe convinced Joop to enter the skin care market, with Joop, in turn, creating the scent, consistency and packaging of the new line.

Joop is no stranger to the world of cosmetics. Perfumes under the Joop brand are licensed to the Lancaster division of Coty Inc., but the designer severed all ties with the Joop brand and its multiple licensees in 2001. He launched his Wunderkind Couture women’s wear collection for the fall 2004 season, and the new skin care range marks the second product genre under the Wunderkind name.

Wunderkind Max-Cell, which is subheaded The Art of Beauty by Wolfgang Joop, on the packaging, includes a purifying toner, cleansing milk, enzyme-based facial peel, antiwrinkle eye gel, lifting mask, after-show revitalizer, age-control moisturizing treatment and energizing treatment.

Retail prices start at 35 euros, or $42 at current exchange rates, for a 200-ml. toner, cleansing milk, and 30-ml. after-show revitalizer — a spray with an immediate, “lifting effect” for après shows of all sorts. The peel, eye gel, lifting mask and serum range from 50 to 65 euros, or $61 to $79. The age-control moisturizing treatment represents the top-tier price of the line at 82 euros, or $100, for 50 ml. All dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

While Wunderkind Max-Cell was launched Oct. 1 in Quartier 206 Departmentstore, Berlin’s most upscale fashion emporium, it will be rolled out to about 300 prestige perfumeries in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the next 18 months. Mercatura and Wunderkind executives would not talk figures, but industry sources estimate the range could generate $12 million in sales in the first two years.

According to Michaelis, what makes Wunderkind Max-Cell different is not one specific ingredient, but rather the combination of a dozen highly concentrated components. The guiding principle is “more is more.” Ingredients that have been found to help the skin are used in higher concentrates in Wunderkind than is the norm, he explained. These include ectoin, an amino acid; isoflavone; cell-protect, an ingredient comprised of lemon balm, selenium, manganese, zinc and barley extract; AH-3-De-Tense, dubbed the Botox substitute, and caviar or maritime DNA.

This story first appeared in the October 12, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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Much like the Wunderkind Couture fashion collection, Wunderkind Max-Cell will be relying on word-of-mouth to attract its female clientele. Advertising is not planned at this stage, though there is a deluxe, complimentary sampling kit that features 5-ml. samples of all eight products.

— Melissa Drier

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