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Faith Hill to Launch First Scent

Multiplatinum country and pop star Faith Hill speaks about her first fragrance with WWD.

Gotta have Faith? Coty Inc. hopes consumers will head to mass market beauty counters this October: That’s when Faith Hill, the multiplatinum country and pop star, is entering new territory with her eponymous first fragrance.

“Coty approached me a very long time ago about a fragrance of my own — it felt like a natural thing,” said a Prada-clad Hill, who also has five Grammys, 13 number-one singles and has sold 30 million albums, during an interview at a Chelsea town house Thursday afternoon.

“I’m pretty picky when it comes to fragrance — I don’t wear a lot of it, and I haven’t worn a lot in the past. I wanted to be able to create this scent, to be involved with the lab, choosing the notes, and everything. Talk about an awakening as to how it’s all put together — the subtlety and difference that one drop can make. I wanted it to be clean and sensual, but last for a long time.

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Hill said she usually has worn lotion in the past and noted Narciso Rodriguez Musk and Jo Malone’s Red Roses body lotion have been favorites for years. “My children [daughters Audrey, Gracie and Maggie] have commented over the years — ‘Oh, Mom, the bed or sweater or whatever smells just like you.’ That’s the feeling I was after. And talk about an awakening about how it all comes together — it was amazing to me the subtle differences that even one drop of oil could create. It was a lot more involved than I expected, but I couldn’t imagine having my name on a fragrance I didn’t create. If you are going to put your name on something, you want it to really represent you.”

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And represent her this scent does. “I wanted a Southern magnolia somewhere in this scent,” said Hill, who grew up in (as it turns out, appropriately named) Star, Mississippi. “As a Mississippi girl, there’s nothing more intoxicating to me than the smell of a magnolia. It’s one of those scents that just fills the air — and it brings back so many memories from my childhood. That was one note I really wanted. We put it in the middle, so it’s not overwhelming. And a flower that I’d smelled in my life, but really didn’t know that much about, was neroli — of course, it ended up being the most expensive ingredient.”

Other favorite additions to the juice were peony and crisp pear, said Hill, speaking like a seasoned perfumer. “To calm everything down on the bottom, we added a little bit of cashmere musk and a little vetiver, so when it dries down you have that pleasing warmth,” said Hill. “It took a little while to get here, but I’m so pleased with what we created. I feel beautiful in this scent.”

Hill worked with Caroline Sabas of Givaudan on the scent. Top notes are of aromatic crisp pear, neroli and pink peony; the heart is of southern magnolia, jasmine and gardenia, and the drydown is of cashmere skin musk, iris and smoky vetiver.

The collection includes eaux de toilette in three sizes: 0.5 oz. for $17, 1 oz. for $24 and 1.7 oz. for $31. The bottle, which Hill created with Lutz Herrmann, is vintage-inspired — a heavy, glass rectangle with a black grosgrain ribbon tied around the bottle’s neck. The juice inside is tinted champagne with peach undertones.

“I believe strongly Coty’s role as the leading fragrance house is to rejuvenate all channels of distribution with compelling offers,” said Steve Mormoris, senior vice president of global marketing for Coty Beauty, of navigating through the twin challenges of a packed celebrity fragrance category and a tough retail environment. “Particularly in terms of the economic downturn, the mass market is more critical than ever. There are some schools of thought — you have to be very prestige to be good. That’s nonsense. Quality fragrance is about coherence, about outstanding olfactory. Faith is a perfectionist with a great sense of craftsmanship — and we believe this fragrance will help revitalize the mass market scent business.”

The scent will be available in about 20,000 mass market doors in the U.S., including Wal-Mart, national drug chains, Ulta and J.C. Penney.

Print advertising, shot by Michael Thompson, features Hill in a quiet moment of contemplation. It will begin running in October fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. Mormoris and his team also plan a comprehensive online outreach effort. “It’s no longer a case of, ‘Run a print ad, and everyone will go out and buy what you’re selling,’” he said. “Blogs and Internet sites are much more important than they ever have been.”

While Hill and Mormoris declined to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that the scent could do $40 million at retail in its first year on counter and that about $5 million would be spent on advertising and promotion in the launch season, running from September to January 2010.

Hill hopes this scent will be the first in a string of fragrances bearing her name. “This one felt like the best way to begin, but I definitely want to do more scents,” she said, adding that she got several ideas for future projects while in the lab with this one and is currently developing one of them. “First, though, I’m anxious and excited to see what people think of this one.”

Hill had some advance experience in creating a fragrance — her husband, Tim McGraw, launched his eponymous first fragrance late last August, and he gave his wife credit for helping to make it a success. (McGraw’s second fragrance, Southern Blend, is scheduled to be launched at the end of August.) Hill turns the praise right back at him: “It was convenient we live in the same house,” she cracked of her involvement, giving her husband credit for the success of his scent. “Working on his scent and mine — it’s been a great family experience,” she said. “I like doing everything with my husband.” And, she said, she’s keeping busy this summer with her family. “My daughters are teaching me to Hula-hoop. Audrey is seven, and she can do it the longest — I am not kidding, for 15 minutes! It’s cheap entertainment,” she said with a laugh.