NEW YORK — Laura Mercier’s new fragrance, Ambre Passion, which launches in September, may be the makeup artist’s third entry in the category, but she’s calling it her first “true signature” scent.

“Amber is my favorite thing, it’s been my favorite smell since I was like 16 years old,” she said, adding that she discovered the scent in its absolute form, ambergris, during a trip to Morocco at that age. “I had a chance to smell the real amber stone,” she said. “And I would use it on my skin, so the smell would marry with my skin’s smell — it’s sensual, so warm and mysterious.”

The fragrance itself is almost purely amber, from top to bottom note. A bit of geranium was added to give it an unexpected, unique twist, said Mercier. “It’s a real, basic amber,” she said. “A lot of perfumes have a base of amber but it’s mixed up and surrounded by other things. This is a pure amber with just a little sparkle of geranium.” Ambre Passion will be available at Mercier’s distribution of 250 doors in the U.S. and globally and will retail for $65 for a 1.7-oz. bottle. While executives would not comment on sales figures, it is expected to do up to $1.5 million in first-year retail sales, according to industry sources.

“Amber has always been her signature [scent],” said Janet Gurwitch, chief executive officer of Mercier’s licensee, Gurwitch Bristow Products. “When we started creating fragrances about five years ago, she created this one first, but we saved it for when we thought it was the proper time.” Gurwitch explained that introducing the fragrance now was a matter of building a solid foundation in the fragrance category for the company (Mercier’s first two fragrances are called L’Heure Magique and Eau du Lune) before branching out into a more “individual, unique” fragrance: “Our other two fragrances have been so well accepted,” she said. “This one is unique and it’s truly for an amber lover.”

Gurwitch added that a line of bath and body products featuring the Ambre Passion scent is a strong possibility in the future, depending on the success of the fragrance. “We probably will expand into body and bath if this has the success we think it will,” she said.

This story first appeared in the June 24, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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