Reveal is not just Halle Berry’s third fragrance, it’s also a demanding role that requires her to expose facets of her personality.
“I’m a mother now [daughter Nahla is 2], and when you become a parent, you just look at the world a little bit differently,” said the Oscar-winning actress during an exclusive interview with WWD at the Lowell Hotel in Manhattan. “[Motherhood] challenges me and makes me question myself and who I really am all the time. So for this [fragrance and campaign] to come along at this time in life just seemed kind of like it goes together. This is a part of expressing who I really am — for the good and the bad, it’s about being comfortable with myself as a woman, and sharing secret parts of myself.”
Berry’s first eponymous fragrance launched in March 2009 in about 16,000 mass market and midtier department stores, and its flanker, Pure Orchid, bowed this January. Reveal will be launched in about 25,000 mass market and midtier doors. “Because this is the third one, I have a little bit of experience now,” Berry said. “I had an understanding of a direction I wanted it to go. With each one, the goal is to make them different, yet the same in that it’s reflective of who I am. I wanted this one to be a little more floral, but the inspiration was still about keeping it classic and easy.”
Berry added that with the story she wanted to tell, “we needed the fragrance to be easy and floral and wearable.”
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Considering that her various projects involve not only fragrance creation but acting, producing and fronting color cosmetics for Revlon, Berry is determined to make sure anything that bears her name is a true reflection of her.
Coty appealed to Berry when she realized the company would give her a say in creating the fragrance and the marketing. “I worked so hard to be someone that I wanted people to trust and believe in, that I didn’t want to just squander that away. So I guarded it for a long time.”
“In the case of celebrity fragrances, I think they work best when they truly are a creation of the celebrity who has the intrinsic talent for creating,” said Steve Mormoris, senior vice president of global marketing for Coty Beauty, Berry’s fragrance licensee. “Halle is an actress and a very emotional person — she loves art and beauty, and she’s a great creator.” Mormoris added that Berry’s fragrances “resonate with the consumer much more than we thought…we are double in size what we thought [we would do with the fragrances.]”
“They didn’t think anyone would buy it,” Berry retorted with a giggle.
“I guess we underestimated your fan base,” Mormoris admitted with a smile. “We weren’t sure what to expect.” “I was more worried than anybody,” admitted Berry.
The sales tallies seem to bear out this theory. “Pure Orchid ranked number one in mass women’s fragrances in January and February, and then number two in March,” said Marsha Brooks, vice president of global marketing, fragrance, for Coty Beauty. While all involved declined to discuss sales figures, industry sources estimated that, in the next 12 months, Berry’s portfolio will generate an additional $40 million at retail globally.
In fact, Berry’s appeal is so global that the latest fragrance will launch first in about 25,000 doors in Europe and Australia in August before being introduced in the U.S., Canada and Latin America in January. “We now have a huge following in Europe, which we never anticipated,” said Mormoris.
Berry is one to support her own brands, as well — as Los Angeles-based mass market doors found out firsthand recently. “I was shopping, and I put my own fragrance in my basket. A woman looked at me and saw that the fragrance was in my basket. She said, ‘I can’t believe you have to come in here and buy it! Don’t they send it to you?’ And I said, ‘They do, but I ran out! So I’m buying it.’ I have a bottle like this big now,” she said, gesturing to a gallon-sized factice. “And then I was giving some to my charity [the Jenesse Center, a Los Angeles-based domestic violence nonprofit], and I should have called Steve up and said, ‘Hey, can you send me 50 bottles? I want to give it out at my event.’ I didn’t even think of that — I just went around to all the stores in LA and I was cleaning off the shelves. It was a little bit embarrassing, having to explain to people, ‘Oh, I’m doing a charity event and I want to give this away. Anyway, just ring it up! Don’t ask me any questions!’” she said, laughing.
Reveal, created in partnership with Richard Herpin of Firmenich, is a floral woody juice. It opens with top notes of Berry’s favorite flower, mimosa, along with notes of peach, honeydew melon and red berries; has a heart of plumeria flower, iris blossom and neroli petals, and a base of vetiver, cashmere woods and skin musk. Berry noted that iris is a “very special part of the composition — iris can be a bit dark or woody, but I decided to choose facets of it that make it feel velvety soft and airy.”
The lineup includes eaux de parfum in three sizes — 0.5 oz. for $17 in the U.S. and 16 euros in Europe; 1 oz. for $35 U.S., 24 euros in Europe, and a 1.7 oz. for $35 in the U.S. and 34 euros in Europe. A 6.7 oz. body lotion will retail for $12.50 in the U.S. and 11.50 euros, and a 75-ml. deodorant natural spray, which will be available in Europe only and which will retail for 10 euros.
Reveal’s bottle, designed by Jane Tarallo, is a four-sided teardrop with ridges and a jewel-cut cap.
The TV advertising, set to launch in Europe in October and the U.S. in February, is what Mormoris calls “a confessional style — she’s speaking directly to the consumer. You’re eavesdropping on a private conversation. Rather than being fantasy, it’s a series of truisms. It’s an authentic part of Halle Berry that people generally don’t see.” Created by film director Jonas Akerlund with Laird + Partners, the spot depicts Berry in an intimate interview session, flirting with an unseen man as she answers his questions.
“This commercial involved less acting than my others, if you want to know the truth — because I got to be myself,” said Berry. “I got to answer questions honestly, with my own sensibilities, with my sense of humor, my own sense of mystery, with my own wonderment about the world. Usually when I do things like this, I’m reading a script, and I’m trying to act and make it my own. This time, I really got to expose a part of my real self.”
Berry is working on a fourth fragrance and several new film projects. “I’m about to go to South Africa to work on a movie, in June and July, and then I’m going to do a comedy in the fall. So I am going back to work, after two years of being a mom. I did that purposely, in a way — to spend those first two years [with my daughter]. Now that she’s two, I feel like, OK, I’ve got another three years before she starts school to just work, work, work and travel, because I can take her with me, until school starts. Then life will change.
“That may mean that I do a different kind of business, where I can be a mom and still work in a different kind of way.” That could include skin care — “That is something that I think would be a natural extension — it is something that I am really serious about in my own life,” said Berry. “I believe in it, I know lots about it, so I would have a lot to share with the consumer.”
Berry’s comedy — “Shoe Addicts Anonymous,” based on the Beth Harbison novel of the same name — begins filming this fall. She is also a producer of the film, which will mark her fourth producing credit. “It’s a cross between ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘The First Wives Club,’” she said of the film. “I really wanted to do a comedy, and I’d been looking for one and trying to convince people that I can be funny; they don’t always think of that when they think of me.”
This particular project has resonance because “it’s about fashion, an addiction that I think I share with millions and millions of other women, but it has heart and soul. It’s not just some vapid story about shoes.” Speaking of dramas, a drama that Berry both stars in and produced, “Frankie and Alice,” is set for a fall release. “It was a story that was really close to my heart for a long time, and I really had a burning desire to get this woman’s story on the screen. We’re still tweaking it — it’s very much like my baby. You know it’s got to be born, but want to keep it in as long as you can to make sure it’s really, really, ready, all cooked up,” she said.
Berry says that as much as she loves fashion, she’s not planning her own line. “That’s too hard,” she said, laughing. “I know good fashion, but that doesn’t mean I can create it! I just know it when I see it.”