The brand is launching a new fragrance, named Alibi eau de parfum, after its bag of the same name. The new scent will be available at de la Renta boutiques, on its website, and in select doors at Macy’s. Prices range from $55 for 30-ml to $95 for 100-ml. Industry sources estimate the fragrance could reach $20 million in retail sales in its first year on the market.
Alibi is the first fragrance designed by the brand’s co-creative directors Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim. Although the team had perfected the scent prior to the coronavirus, working on such a long timeline was still new territory. “It was hard understanding that it required a lot of time,” Garcia said. “For us, it took two years. For the first fragrance, you aren’t at first sure how you want to portray yourself.”
Kim added that they don’t typically spend more than three months on a collection, and a two-year project required a change of pace. Nonetheless, Kim said it’s still cohesive with the brand’s DNA. “The brand represents femininity, and [the fragrance] came out very feminine,” she said.
The fragrance has top notes of mandarin and ginger blossom, heart notes of vanilla orchid and heliotrope, and base notes of musk, praline and amberwood. Finding a juice that checked all the boxes took some back-and-forth. “We wanted to make sure that the first impression we made [in fragrance] made sense with the clothes that we are putting out, and also with the personality that we bring to the table,” Garcia said.
“It was a lot of trials,” he continued. “Laura and I naturally gravitate toward bolder fragrances; however, we had to strike a balance with the feminine energy of the brand. So with the design of the bottle, which was quite classic and timeless, we felt like it struck the right balance because the fragrance is quite sensual and floral.”
The fragrance’s creation was unhampered by the pandemic, although its accompanying campaign — fronted by model Irina Shayk, shot by Luigi and Iango — had to be done in a socially distanced fashion.
The brand expressed interest in adjacent beauty categories, but fragrances seemed like a logical first step. “With perfumes, it just opens so many doors within beauty,” Kim said.
Alex Bolen, chief executive officer of Oscar de la Renta, said fragrance is a strategically wise category for the brand to play in, especially given its growing popularity in international markets. “In Asian markets, fragrance hasn’t traditionally been a part of consumers’ lives, but that’s changing,” he said. “Right now, the lowest price point of a fashion product is $600. This allows us to deliver luxury in a different way, and to have additional brand awareness in those markets.”
Bolen said the brand hopes to play deeper in beauty, and that no category is off limits for expansion. “We’ve been in the fragrance business for 35 years now, and we’ve always had ambitions to get into color cosmetics,” he said. “It’s a crowded space, it’s an expensive space to participate in, and we’re only going to do it if we can find a way to do something different and do it well.”
Bolen has also borne witness to skin care’s popularity, and is capitalizing on the buzz. “We have two skin care collaborations that will be our way to test the market, but they won’t be entrants into the business per se,” he said.
Like cosmetics, though, Bolen said any forays into the category would have to make sense for the brand and come off as natural fits. “We think about authenticity and voice, and one of the things we have in our favor is Laura [Kim], who is extremely knowledgeable about skin care matters,” he said, saying Kim was able to provide real time consumer insights.
The explosion of wellness has also caught Bolen’s attention. “Laura loves to cook, and wellness ties to things like sustainability, and even the things we’re doing like the dyes in our fabric. All of those areas are of interest,” he said. “Being increasingly relevant, beauty is a place we can do more.”
Meanwhile, First Lady Jill Biden gave an added boost to Oscar de la Renta last Monday when she wore a citrus primavera belted day dress from the designer’s pre-spring 2021 collection at the State Department’s International Women of Courage Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Biden earlier wore Oscar de la Renta’s dark blue floral dress when her husband then President-elect Joe Biden gave his victory speech on Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
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