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Lilly Pulitzer’s New Squeeze: Fragrance

After half a century in the apparel business, Lilly Pulitzer is adding a little juice — as in fragrances — to the mix.

After half a century in the apparel business, Lilly Pulitzer is adding a little juice — as in fragrances — to the mix. The scent trio, dubbed Beachy, Squeeze and Wink, will begin rolling out in November and will be in about 800 U.S. doors by February.

Ask Lillian McKim Pulitzer Rousseau — aka Lilly Pulitzer — a direct question, and you’ll get a very direct answer. Why, in the 50 years of her namesake business’ history, has she never had a scent before? “They all stunk!” she said with a laugh during an interview at her Palm Beach, Fla., home, Casa Loca. Her lack of concern for convention is reflected in the property, with its winding path through the overgrown backyard foliage revealing an L-shaped pool, trampoline and guesthouse, among other things.

But Sugartown Worldwide, which owns the Lilly Pulitzer apparel business, is aiming to change Pulitzer’s opinion of fragrances. And like the apparel business she founded in 1959 and Lilly herself, the Pulitzer entry into the fragrance world will be anything but traditional. Rather than testing the waters with a single scent, the brand will enter the category with three, which is a long-standing taboo in the industry.

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“This launch is very specifically not like everyone else’s,” said James Bradbeer Jr., co-owner and president of Sugartown Worldwide. “We’re not in the basics business — patterns and bright colors are part of our DNA. Over the years, we’ve met a lot of people who think they know Lilly as a brand, that come to us saying, ‘This type of fragrance is trendy now, this is what will sell.’ But Alison Farn understood the brand, and like us, had a clear vision of what could fill a gap in the market.”

Farn, who is chief executive officer of PulsePoints — a venture between Gary Farn Ltd., the sales and marketing firm, and Mane, the fragrance and flavor supplier — is a longtime Pulitzer fan. So “speaking Lilly in fragrance was actually pretty easy,” she said. “It made sense to start with a wardrobe of scents incorporating all the things one associates with Lilly — the beach, citrus fruits and whimsical florals.”

The result? Wink, a flirty floral named for one of Pulitzer’s favorite sayings (“wear pink and make the boys wink”); Squeeze, a reference to the juice stands at which Pulitzer began selling her first shifts to friends like Jackie Kennedy, and Beachy, inspired by Palm Beach. “We all wanted the introductory Lilly collection to tie in with the brand’s core values — whimsy, the beach and the juice stand that launched Lilly’s business,” said Lori Marino, vice president of brand development for PulsePoints.

Wink has top notes of pear nectar, pink freesia and lush gardens; a heart of rose bouquet, white lily and violet fields, and a drydown of amber crystals and sensual musk. Squeeze’s top notes are of exotic lychee, pink grapefruit and red currant; its heart is of lotus blossom and wild rose petals, and its drydown is of sun-drenched woods and water musk. Beachy opens with sliced watermelon, sunny citrus and marine air accord; has a heart of jasmine blossom, tiare flower and lush frangipani, and a drydown of salt crystals, golden amber and sweet vanilla. Wink was concocted by Cecile Krakower, Squeeze by Mathilde Bijaoul and Beachy by Karine Dubreil.

Each scent will include eaux de parfum in two sizes, 1.7 oz. for $48 and 3.4 oz. for $68; a body lotion, $38, and a candle, $34.

In true Lilly fashion, each scent’s packaging includes bright patterns. Janie Schoenborn, design director for print and pattern, brand presentation, and accessories and footwear, created six specifically for the initial fragrance collection: primary patterns in pink and green (Wink), yellow and orange (Squeeze) and blue and green (Beachy). Secondary patterns in those colors line the inside of each box and appear on the body lotion tubes. The bottles themselves were inspired by architecture on Palm Beach’s Via Mizner, the site of Pulitzer’s original juice stand, said Theresa Plavoukos, vice president of marketing for PulsePoints.

The scents will begin rolling out in November (continuing through February) at Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Dillard’s, Lilly Pulitzer Via shops (independently owned boutiques that carry 90 percent or more in Pulitzer merchandise) and corporate-owned stores. At full rollout, the collection will be available in some 800 doors in the U.S. While none of the executives would comment on sales projections, industry sources estimated that the collection could do at least $5 million at retail in its first year on counter.

While Bradbeer concedes that the brand’s colorful DNA could eventually lend itself to a color cosmetics line, it won’t be any time soon. “We have additional [beauty] categories on our long-term list, but for now, we’re going to concentrate on our fragrances and making that business as strong as it can be,” he said. Such additions would be at least 12 to 24 months out, he said.