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John Galliano Woes Hit Fragrance

The scandal has made Perfume Holding review its strategy for the brand in the U.S. market.

PARIS — The scandal leading to John Galliano’s trial for public insult has made Perfume Holding review its strategy for the brand in the U.S. market, and the company has revealed that its sales for the licensed line have suffered in certain other countries.

The Franco-Italian firm’s second fragrance line for Galliano, Parlez-Moi d’Amour, hit counters in Europe and the Middle East last October. A U.S. launch had been scheduled for this spring.

“We held off launching in the U.S. because of the problems, and are reviewing our strategy for that market,” Perfume Holding vice president of creation and marketing development Brigitte Wormser revealed, without giving further details. Industry sources had suggested that Parlez-Moi d’Amour could generate first-year wholesale revenues of 10 million euros, or $14.3 million at current exchange. John Galliano fragrances are sold in 5,000 doors worldwide.

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“[Galliano’s comments have had] an impact on sales in certain markets,” Wormser said, declining to reveal details. In Israel, the brand was strongly affected by Galliano’s alleged anti-Semitic outbursts, she commented, and certain German and British retailers were reticent about stocking the fragrance. In France and Italy, however, the impact has been minimal.

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Certain German retailers had decided to destock the brand, and changed their minds after bloggers, who had already tested the fragrance, put pressure on them, she said.

“Parlez-Moi d’Amour has excellent scores on,” Wormser said, suggesting this is proof that final consumers are little concerned about the situation.

“Everyone knows John was sick at the time,” Wormser said. She made a comparison with supermodel Kate Moss’ turbulent period: “We have all forgotten now that she messed up.”

“Consumers’ reception of Parlez-Moi d’Amour has been great, which is more important,” she said. Consumers seem to have moved on, but certain retailers have been reticent to continue stocking the brand.”

Regarding Galliano’s dismissal from his fashion brand, she said: “There are other brands whose namesake designer is no longer present, and who sell perfectly well. Young people today do not remember Paco Rabanne, but the brand is still successful.”

She added: “If the product is great, it becomes more important than the brand.”

“It is unfortunate for Perfume Holding that just when it decides to support the John Galliano brand, such negative publicity comes along,” one industry source said, estimating that annual wholesale turnover for the brand’s signature eau de parfum and eau de toilette duo is around 10 million euros, or $14.2 million at current exchange rates. “It is not a brand that has a huge turnover, and the current situation will not help it to grow in the short term. It will be several months before negative perceptions of the brand are forgotten.”

The designer is to stand trial for alleged racist and anti-Semitic outbursts in Paris beginning next Wednesday.

Despite the media frenzy surrounding the designer, Perfume Holding is going ahead with the launch of an edp version of Parlez-Moi d’Amour. The stronger, “more sensual” scent will enter Europe, the Middle East and Asia in October.

For the edp, International Flavors & Fragrances’ Aliénor Massenet added notes of mandarin, raspberry, chypre and vanilla to the formula. At launch, it will be priced 42, 59 and 69 euros, or $60, $85 and $99, respectively, for 30-, 50- and 80-ml. versions. An ad campaign will star Taylor Momsen, who already featured in visuals for the edt.

The Galliano business is based mainly on licensing. Key partners include Gibò Co. SpA for the signature men’s and women’s collections; Ittierre SpA for the second line, Galliano; Diesel for children’s wear; Marcolin SpA for eyewear; Albisetti for swimwear, and Morellato for watches.

As reported, retailers in North America and the U.K. reacted immediately and sharply to the scandal in March and often pulled products off shelves, while the business in other regions — including Asia, Europe and the Middle East — remained largely unaffected.

Meanwhile, the Galliano company, controlled by Christian Dior SA, has received unsolicited expressions of interest in the business from several of its Italian licensing partners as well as a Chinese group and a firm from the Middle East, even though the company has not been put up for sale.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Gibò said, “From our point of view the feedback is positive and the customers are showing they’re attached and faithful to the brand.”