NEW YORK — Get ready for another fragrance from Calvin Klein.
Once again, he’s looking to break the rules.
According to industry reports, Klein and his fragrance licensee, Unilever’s Calvin Klein Cosmetics, are attempting to develop a single scent that will appeal to men as well as women and can be marketed to both sexes.
Names reportedly under consideration include variations on the word “One,” such as “One by Calvin Klein.”
However, the project appears to be in the early stages, and like all fragrance concepts, there is no guarantee what direction it will ultimately take. If the fragrance can be successfully developed, it could hit the market as early as this fall. Sources speculated that the fragrance may be aimed at a younger consumer.
Klein executives could not be reached for comment Friday.
There have been few instances of companies marketing major, commercial fragrances to both men and women in widespread distribution. Last April, Bulgari launched Eau Parfumee as a unisex product. But the Bulgari scent is limited in distribution, restricted to the company’s 33 boutiques worldwide, and the fragrance is only an eau de toilette splash, much like 4711, a light German scent that’s been on the market for over 100 years.
In contrast to those more generic products, Klein is attempting to develop a full fragrance line, with mainstream department store distribution.
“They’re always breaking ground,” said one industry executive, of Klein and his fragrance business.
Annette Green, president of the Fragrance Foundation, noted that this new concept is a logical step for a company that has broken with tradition before.
It was Klein, working with his fragrance licensee, then headed by Robin Burns, who pioneered “master branding” — separate men’s and women’s fragrances with the same name and a common advertising campaign. Master branding has now become common practice in the industry.
In the process, the cosmetics company became one of the leading forces in the global fragrance industry, with a wholesale volume of more than $400 million.
Klein’s Obsession, a 1985 women’s fragrance, was followed by Obsession for Men in 1986; Eternity in 1988 was echoed in 1989 by Eternity for Men, and the Escape for Men of 1993 came after Escape, a 1991 entry.
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Referring to the new fragrance, Green said, “I can’t ever remember this being done before. I think this would be a good time for it. I think it could go.”
The prevalence of master brands on the market — such as the Eternity scents and Ralph Lauren Safari versus Safari for Men — have blurred the gender separations, Green suggested, noting, “The consumer is not that savvy to see big differences between fragrances for men and women.”
She pointed out that during the last few years, women have increasingly worn men’s fragrances, such as the 1990 masculine scent, Lagerfeld Photo. And there have been earlier examples of women adopting scents originally aimed at men, such as Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage in 1966 and Guerlain’s Habit Rouge in 1965.
Klein can avoid sexual hangups, Green speculated, by shunning masculine and feminine labels and keeping the positioning vague. “It should be marketed in a hugely mysterious way…that sense of oneness that can only be realized as a culmination of the sexual act. Who is the man and who is the woman is not really key.
“If I know Calvin, he probably will meld masculine and feminine notes together and speak to men and women with an olfactory equality,” Green said.
The use of “one” in the name has been done before. One Man Show by Jacques Bogart was introduced in 1982; Georgette Mosbacher came out with One Perfect Rose in 1990 and La Parfumerie Inc. introduced One Unlimited Perfume in 1991.