LONDON — Eight has long been a lucky number for a host of cultures, and Alexander McQueen is using the figure to boost its burgeoning fragrance business, starting this week. Today, Alexander McQueen Parfums unveils a niche, ultrapremium collection of eight flora-infused scents meant to reflect the facets of the McQueen woman.
The fragrances, which include orientals, florals and a chypre, have names such as Celtic Rose, Blazing Lily and Luminous Orchid. They have been built around McQueen Parfum, the high-end scent made from night-blooming flowers that launched in 2016.
At the time of that launch, the fashion brand had also set up a fragrance house with its former partner, P&G Prestige Beauty (P&G sold a host of brands and licenses to Coty Inc. later that year) and its first juice was McQueen Parfum, which is priced at 350 euros for a 50-ml. spray.
At 220 euros for a 75-ml. spray, the eight fragrances are slightly more accessible and varied, and play to a popular industry trend for high-end collections. Brands including Tom Ford, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Dior and Givenchy have long been appealing to customers’ desire to match their scents to different moments — and to build a personal collection.
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Pierre Aulas, Coty’s olfactive consultant who created the fragrances, said during the launch at The Charterhouse, an exquisite maze of stone and brick buildings and gardens that resembles a college at Oxford or Cambridge, that his brief from Sarah Burton, McQueen’s creative director, was clear and simple.
“She wanted me to stay very close to the DNA of the brand and to capture its duality,” he said, adding that Burton asked him to play on the tension between the traditional and modern, between fragility and strength and to channel the “soft warrior” femininity of McQueen.
Burton said she loves the idea of fragrance as “gentle armor, protective, empowering and connected to the natural world,” and described each fragrance as “forward-looking,” arguing that each one tells its own story.
“At Alexander McQueen, we are drawn to the traditional craft of perfumery, to ancient materials painstakingly sought out, but always with an eye on innovation, experimentation and the future,” she added.
The launch, on a hot, bright July morning, took place among the wild, colored blooms of the 14th-century Charterhouse gardens, with breakfast guests choosing from an all-natural feast that included hedgerow berry salad; fresh garden mint and hazelnut shortbread, and an nonalcoholic cocktail of mint, cucumber and lime juice.
During the event, Simona Cattaneo, chief marketing officer, Coty Luxury, said the collection was inspired by haute parfumerie. “Each scent in the fragrance series is distinctive for its use of highly sought-after ingredients that harness the essential beauty and strength of nature.”
All eight fragrances were conceived and created around the original McQueen Parfum, which remains the core of Alexander McQueen fragrances, Coty said.
For the event, Burton had pulled dresses from the brand’s archive and put them on display — for a few hours only — alongside the fragrances and big bouquets. The textural, colorful tableaux were set up both on the grounds of The Charterhouse and inside the Tudor-era hallways.
Although inspired by nature and flora, each fragrance definitely has a different personality: Celtic Rose is a mix of fresh and delicate petals with added black pepper, while Blazing Lily is a spicy floral scent with peppery red pimento — and gunpowder.
Luminous Orchid is an oriental with vanilla, roasted sesame, extract of Arabica coffee and Tonka bean, while Amber Garden is another oriental containing incense, amber, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon notes. Sacred Osmanthus is made with the leaves of Lapsang souchong tea and osmanthus petals and is a smoky, leathery floral.
Vetiver Moss is a green, woody chypre with orris root. According to Aulas, it is meant to evoke a Shakespearean garden “where anything can happen,” while Dark Papyrus is an earthy, spicy, woody floral concocted from papyrus extract and blackcurrant buds, with the juice meant to evoke a “vital armor.”
Everlasting Dream, a woody aquatic, wants to conjure extreme, seaside nature with its salty, mineral mix.
Coty confirmed that for the first year of launch, it is looking to reach the level of the first fragrance, or at least 50 doors. The collection will have an exclusive prelaunch at Harrods beginning today and will be on counter worldwide starting Sept. 1 with retailers including Printemps and Saks Fifth Avenue.
The collection will also be available exclusively on the Alexander McQueen web site as of September.
Coty declined to comment on first-year sales projections, but industry sources believe the number will be in the region of $5 million, as the aim is to build the brand’s reputation in fragrance, rather than pump up sales.
The bottle is a heavy, but delicate, flacon that’s meant to resemble a polished gem and the cap is round and nubby, like the one on the first fragrance. The bottles have the McQueen logo and come in a variety of jewel tones, depending on their contents.
The outer packaging is meant to recall the design of the McQueen Parfum, with black embossed feathers on the boxes, which are edged in antiqued gold.
M/M, the agency that recently recast the Alexander McQueen communication platform, worked on the digital-only campaign, which was inspired by armor and heraldic symbols.