Appeared In
Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 01/28/2011

LONDON — Swarovski is taking its first plunge into the world of fragrance with Aura by Swarovski, due out this spring.

This story first appeared in the January 28, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The crystal maker created the women’s scent with its beauty licensee Groupe Clarins. The inspiration was “all the grace and the magnetism of light,” according to Joël Palix, president of Clarins Fragrance Group.

“The soul of crystal is light,” continued Markus Langes-Swarovski, a member of the Swarovski board and the great-great grandson of the company’s founder, Daniel Swarovski. Langes-Swarovski explained Swarovski has for about one decade been expanding its business beyond crystal.

“Aura is the perfect visual expression for the soul of crystal,” he added.

Swarovski and Clarins executives went through 2,000 iterations of the juice before deciding on the final one. The original brief, said Langes-Swarovski, was to “create liquid crystal. We wanted to identify the smell of crystal, in a way.”

Pierre Aulas, olfactory artistic director for Clarins Fragrance Group, imagined the liquid crystal as creating “a magic aura and prism of energy.” Firmenich’s Jean-Pierre Bethouart and Olivier Cresp composed the fruity floral incandescent juice. It combines notes of amber, benzoin resin and white musk, along with what Aulas described as “rays” of juicy lychee, pure white tuberose and pink pepper that punctuate the scent.

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Aura’s refillable bottle is a narrow glass tube set in a metal base, with a metal top that encases the flacon. A single asymmetric crystal sits on the top.

“We basically wanted to create something which is not only a pure crystal-decorated flacon,” said Langes-Swarovski.

“We can really play with the bottle,” added Palix. “We will have a lot of limited editions because I think there is a collector’s business around Swarovski.”

Aura’s outer packaging is made from recycled, recyclable cardboard and doesn’t contain inserts. Aura’s print campaign (including single and double pages) was shot by Craig McDean in New York and features model Vlada Roslyakova bathed in an ethereal pink light, while a prism of light shines from the fragrance’s bottle. McDean also shot the television campaign, which will appear as 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-second spots.

Aura is to launch first in the U.K., on March 3, exclusively in Selfridges before rolling out nationwide on March 31. Then on April 1, the fragrance is to be introduced in the rest of the world, save China, which is to start selling the scent in September, and the Americas, which are to get Aura in 2012.

At launch, the fragrance should enter some 10,000 doors, including approximately 500 Swarovski stores, according to Palix.

The scent will come as 30-, 50- and 75-ml. eau de parfum sprays, which will retail in the U.K. for 44 pounds, 59 pounds and 71 pounds, or $68, $91 and $110 at current exchange, respectively. The 50-ml. refill is to be 46 pounds, or $71. Ancillaries include three “makeup jewels,” crystal-studded pendants containing glosses for the lip, face and body, whose formulas are made with micronized Swarovski crystal and Crystal Shine iridescent pearls. These will retail for 48 pounds to 55 pounds, or $74 to $85.

For the Asian market exclusively, Aura will be an eau de toilette in slightly different packaging than that of the eau de parfum version.

Clarins executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Aura will generate between $50 million and $60 million in retail sales in its first 12 months.

Clarins Fragrance Group and Swarovski signed a 10-year license in 2008 to develop fragrance, cosmetics and beauty accessories under the Swarovski Beauty name.

“What I personally love about this first launch is it has modernity and yet it feels timeless,” said Langes-Swarovski. “Clarins and Swarovski really share the same values.”

Jonathan Zrihen, president and chief executive officer of Clarins Groupe USA, said the rollout will be staged over a two-year period to make sure the fragrance introduction has maximum impact in each hemisphere. Also by starting out in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Clarins will be taking advantage of the strength of the jewelry brand in those areas. Zrihen noted the perceptions and positioning of Swarovski is more upmarket in Asia. Both the positioning and stores in the U.S. are being upgraded, he said, noting that by 2012, the renovation is expected to be up to speed. “We want to be part of the repositioning,” he said, “we want to make sure that we introduce the fragrance at the same time they roll out the new stores. It’s a prestige brand with mass appeal.”

Zrihen said Clarins will launch the fragrance in the U.S. in a “certain number” of Swarovski’s more than 200 American stores, plus specialty and department stores.

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