Alexander Vreeland is carefully building Diana Vreeland’s legacy into a luxe beauty brand.
On July 1, the grandson of the famed former Vogue editor in chief and style icon will expand upon the nine-piece namesake Diana Vreeland Parfums collection of fragrances with the Outrageous range: three scents based on the existing Simply Divine, Outrageously Vibrant and Daringly Different.
Each scent has been reinterpreted as a parfum absolu, containing a higher concentration of fragrance oil — 25 percent — than the standard 15 to 18 percent that constitutes an eau de parfum.
“It took us months and months to go from this strength to this,” Vreeland said, holding up the original bottle of Daringly Different and the amped-up, Outrageous version of the scent. He described Daringly Different as an “approachable, feminine oud” that’s a combination of the iris note and oud and inspired by Diana Vreeland’s affinity for Morocco.
“She spent a lot of time there [Morocco] in the Sixties; it’s when she brought the caftan into fashion and [Yves] Saint Laurent started spending a lot of time there [too],” Vreeland said of Daringly Different’s backstory, adding that he worked with perfumer Pascal Gaurin on “Outrageous: Daringly Different.”
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Created by International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., Vreeland said each iteration of Outrageous was created by the same perfumer and is made from the same ingredients. They do, however, have a different olfactive story than their original fragrances. Likening the process to an artist working with the same color palette, but creating a different painting, he called each bottle a “darker story with more sensuality; sort of like the after party.”
He explained that when a consumer smells the two next to one another, the intent is for Outrageous to be “far more luxurious, far more soulful and speak to a more sophisticated fragrance customer who likes a more powerful fragrance experience.”
But beyond the actual scents, Vreeland said his grandmother’s love of words and color are the pillars of the collection. Each bottle has a different colored tassel hanging from the neck (Vivaciously Bold has a poppy, lime-green bottle and a baby blue tassel), with over-the-top names from Devastatingly Chic to Perfectly Marvelous and Smashingly Brilliant.
“Each fragrance is named after words of my grandmother, which is revolutionary because all of the words are totally goofy,” said Vreeland.
Then there are the stories. Smashingly Brilliant, for instance, was inspired by Diana Vreeland’s love of Capri and the time she stayed with Mona Bismarck. This was right after the house of Balenciaga shut down in 1968 and Bismarck locked herself in her room for a week because she didn’t know how she was going to live her life without Balenciaga’s wares.
“We’re doing it because I think that the brand should be elevating itself. We should be doing more beautiful things. There is a real request from customers for more powerful and more luxurious. So we’re doing it. Niche fragrance is a category that has been vibrant and alive,” he added.
Each 50-ml. “Outrageous” bottle will retail for $350. The existing nine scents in the main collection cost $185 for a 50-ml. size and $250 for a 100-ml. bottle.
The new range is nearly twice the price of the main line, but Vreeland isn’t worried.
“My assumption is that this will be for a specific customer,” he said. The plan is to roll out the initial three, amped-up fragrances and assess the role they play in the collection over the next six to 12 months.
Declining to reveal sales figures, Vreeland confirmed sales are doubling year-over-year and he maintained that the company is experiencing “very healthy growth.” The product is carried in about 125 doors worldwide throughout 26 countries, with the U.S. and Europe (Germany is the top country in Europe) driving the majority of the business. The Middle East is the fastest-growing market.
Currently, 85 percent of the business is driven by fragrance sales with the remaining coming from three candles, $90 each, and a lightly rose-oil-scented body cream, $125.
“In her [Diana Vreeland’s] own home, she had potpourri and burned incense and lit candles and she used to inject pillows with hypodermic needle of fragrance. She did all of those things at the same time. Her legitimacy in home fragrance is covered,” Vreeland said.
He sees a significant opportunity in this category, with the expansion of home as a future growth driver. Additional products are already in development. After home, Vreeland said he’s ready to tackle color cosmetics.