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EXCLUSIVE: Jean Paul Gaultier Creates Scandal

The new women’s fragrance is due out starting in late June.

PARIS — From gender-bending skirts and makeup for guys to cone-shaped breasts for Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier is no stranger to whipping up a scandal. So it was apropos that Scandal would be the name — and overriding theme — of his new women’s fragrance.

“For us, it was very important that this launch embodies all the values and the DNA of Jean Paul Gaultier,” Jose Manuel Albesa, chief brand officer of Puig, owner of the label’s fragrance and fashion, told WWD. “So the starting point was a very deep conversation with Jean Paul about his vision and feeling about femininity.”

For this, the first major fragrance project Puig has created with the designer since integrating his perfume business on Jan. 1, 2016, the focus was on a Parisian woman.

“We wanted to offer a different version from others; we wanted something more spicy, festive, sexy and fun,” said Albesa. “So everything started around that.”

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All parts of the fragrance project were meant to be infused with an element of scandal, explained the executive. Take the design of the fragrance bottle, including a cap featuring a pair of flailing legs. Do they belong to a cabaret dancer? A topsy-turvy woman after too much bubbly?

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There’s also a riff on Gaultier’s iconic tin-can packaging for the Classique fragrance and its counterpart for men, Le Male. “We gave it a twist with [pink] velvet,” said Albesa.

For the advertising storyline, scandals stemming from a mix of sex and politics sprang to mind. “We decided to tell the life of ‘Madame La Ministre,’” said Albesa, explaining she’s a government minister who goes partying at night in Paris’ Pigalle neighborhood and makes her way directly into the office for her day job.

The main spot shows the protagonist, played by model Vanessa Axente, leaving a club in a form-fitting black number. In her waiting car, filled with friends, she’s literally cut out of the outfit as her car speeds through the streets of Paris toward the Élysée Palace, where she steps out elegantly in a tailored outfit to join colleagues.

The ad, created with the Mademoiselle Noi agency, is destined for TV and movie theaters. There will also be a major digital component including lots of storytelling, said Albesa, who explained that, for instance, more about lives of the various characters — from the minister to her chauffeur — are shown in other clips.

“We are working with the characters and also with the legs,” he continued, giving as an example street animations in which they will feature.

The print ad for Scandal is supposed to resemble the cover of a newspaper. “So we will link this idea of communication with paperboys in the streets giving free newspapers with the scandal,” said Albesa.

The juice, by Firmenich’s Daphné Bugey, was created to reflect a dichotomy, too. “[It] is very daytime with gardenia and blood orange, and also has a very night side with honey mixed with patchouli,” said Albesa.

He is not concerned that Scandal will cannibalize Classique’s existing consumer base. The new scent, Albesa believes, is for someone “who is bored of the classicism of the fragrance business and looking for something different, for having fun.”

“We wanted to really make this launch not as a family aside Le Male and Classique, but something that is the epicenter of the [Gaultier] brand values today,” said Albesa, pointing to the designer’s humor, enfant terrible persona and ability to take fashion from the street to the catwalk. “It was this idea of putting all the DNA of Jean Paul in every single ingredient of the brand…and capitalizing on the spectacular side [of him].”

Scandal will launch starting in late June in France, before rolling out in July in European travel retail and some countries surrounding France, such as Belgium, Holland, Germany Span and Portugal by September. Then the Middle East and Latin America will get the perfume by October, while the U.S. is slated to start selling Scandal next year.

Puig executives would not discuss projections, but industry sources estimate the fragrance will generate first-year retail sales of 100 million euros, or $112.2 million at current exchange.

In France, the 30-ml. eau de parfum spray is to sell for 56.10 euros, or $62.95; the 50-ml. version for 80.40 euros, or $90.20, and the 80-ml. iteration for 102 euros, or $114.50.

Albesa said the Gaultier fragrance brand’s revenues are up 25 percent year-to-date versus the same prior-year period.

“Our challenge was to stop the fever of limited editions,” he said, adding of the two fragrances remaining in the Gaultier portfolio after Puig discontinued the lines: “We wanted really to revendicate the iconic side of Le Male and Classique in a more prestigious way.”

Another challenge was to stop price offers, according to Albesa. “So the whole year has been a kind of trade-up strategy,” including trimming distribution, he said.