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Clarins Taps Eva Mendes for Angel Fragrance

Actress tells WWD that she recalls having an affinity for the Thierry Mugler scent as a child.

You could say that Eva Mendes’ affinity for Thierry Mugler’s Angel — the scent she now represents — began in her childhood.

“I grew up with Angel,” the actress said during an exclusive phone interview. “I remember thinking, as a child, ‘That’s what a woman smells like.’ I’m the baby [in my family] by 10 years, and my sisters wore it. It comes full circle now that I’d be the face of Angel.”

Joël Palix, president of Clarins Fragrance Group and director general of the Mugler company, said that Mendes’ many facets made her a perfect match for both the existing Angel eau de parfum and an eau de toilette version the company will launch in August. “Eva can be demure one minute and sensual the next,” Palix noted.

In the U.S., the edt will be a Nordstrom exclusive in August before rolling out to wider distribution in September. The edt, concocted by Robertet’s Amandine Marie, is an oriental gourmand powdery scent (the original Angel is an oriental gourmand). The top notes are of bergamot, pepper and red berries; heart notes include praline and berries, and the drydown has notes of patchouli, vanilla, cedar and white musk.

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Sources estimated that the edt could add 20 percent to the overall Angel franchise. A 1.4- oz. edt will retail for $67, while a 2.7-oz. version will sell for $97.

Jonathan Zrihen, president and chief executive officer of Clarins USA, noted the Mendes campaign and the edt are part of a continuing push to keep the 19-year-old Angel scent relevant to consumers. “Over the past three to four years, we’ve been looking to recruit more users,” he said, noting that last year Angel held a number-seven position in the U.S. women’s prestige fragrance market, according to The NPD Group. Zrihen is aiming for a top-five ranking this year. The scent is available in about 1,000 department and specialty stores in the U.S.

The ad campaign was conceived by Thierry Mugler and orchestrated by Christophe de Lataillade, the brand’s artistic director. British director Baillie Walsh directed the film, while fashion photographers Inez van Lansweerde and Vinoodh Matadin shot the print ads. Print ads will begin running in September fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines in the U.S., said Zrihen. TV is expected to be used regionally and on cable in the U.S.

Although Clarins executives refused to discuss advertising budgets, industry sources estimated that Clarins would spend at least $5 million on print and TV advertising in the U.S. for the Mendes campaign in the next 12 months. A significant digital campaign, including a strong social media component, is planned; the TV commercial, which features Mendes singing “Windmills of Your Mind,” will also be used online. The Angel TV campaign was shot in Prague, a city Mendes visited for the first time for the job. “It is such a beautiful city, and our team really created this dark, beautiful surreal world that I really got lost in,” she said.

Speaking of surreal worlds, Mendes shakes her head at the copious amount of incorrect information online about her. While it’s been widely reported that Mendes was a marketing major, she actually was a communications major. “I went to Cal State Northridge, and if you were confused there, you put down communications as your major,” she said with a laugh. Another widely reported “fact” is that Mendes, born in Miami and raised in Los Angeles, is from Houston. “I’m sure it’s a nice place, but I’ve never even had a layover there,” she said.

She takes the inaccuracies in stride. “With the Internet, there are always going to be things that aren’t accurate but pick up steam online,” she said. “That’s just part of the deal, but it’s frustrating. When people see something in print, they assume it’s true. But you have to let it go or those little things will drive you crazy.”

Her dog, Hugo, is barking in the background as Mendes answers questions. “He’s Belgian and all his commands are in French,” said Mendes with a laugh. “I go hiking and I sound incredibly pretentious because I’m not French but I’m yelling in French. He is the love of my life.”

Next up for Mendes: “See If I Care,” a film in which she stars with Patricia Arquette and Matthew Modine. “I play a struggling mom who is a total mess-up,” said Mendes. “I’m constantly in search of playing flawed characters. I prefer playing them — everyone is flawed, everyone is human.” It is expected out later this year.

When it comes to her future goals, Mendes is closemouthed. “I feel like when you share those things, you devalue them in a way, especially in an industry where everyone’s talking about the next project,” she said. “I prefer to talk about the concrete.”

Earlier in her career, Mendes was a face for Revlon and is now a face for Pantene. She doesn’t rule out the possibility of doing her own fragrance — “I’m Cuban, and it is a rite of passage to be doused in Les Violetas, a baby perfume, whether you like it or not,” she said — but says it would have to be an “organic” evolution of her work. “I tend to not jump into things right away, unless I have an emotional connection to it. People can really sense whether or not something is authentic. When you’re just slapping your name on something, it shows.”