PARIS — Dahlia Noir, Parfums Givenchy’s first fragrance under creative director Riccardo Tisci, is due out early August with a “couture fragrance” positioning.

This story first appeared in the July 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Tisci — who has rejuvenated Givenchy with an edgier fashion approach worlds away from the prim, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” image of yore — hadn’t felt ready to work on a scent until recently.

“When I arrived at Givenchy, I had to start a new identity [while] respecting the DNA of the house,” he explained, noting his purview includes couture, prêt-à-porter, men’s fashion and accessories.

Tisci was a bit scared while conceiving his first scent. “I know what I like, but to translate that in reality is not very easy,” he said.

The designer worked closely with François Demachy, senior vice president of olfactory development for perfumes at Givenchy’s parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

“The first thing he asked me was which women do you want to wear your perfume? It was about a woman that represents my style,” said Tisci, describing someone “super-sharp-looking” and “superstrong” but with softness and romanticism, too.

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Tisci chose Mariacarla Boscono — his muse and best friend for 17 years — as Dahlia Noir’s face because she has such attributes. Boscono is meant to incarnate the black dahlia, a sharp and sensual flower that has no smell.

Under Tisci’s direction, Mert Atlas and Marcus Piggott photographed the single- and double-page print advertisement, while Fabien Baron shot the 30-second spot that’s destined for TV and movie screens.

The idea with the campaign, according to Thierry Maman, global president of Parfums Givenchy, is “to embody all the values of Givenchy, the world of Riccardo,” while also presenting the fragrance.

For Givenchy, Tisci said he sought to create an “iconic perfume” that is classical with a modern twist. Specifically, he wanted a fragrance that’s romantic and powdery at first, then sharp and sensual. Notes figuring in Dahlia Noir’s juice include rose, iris, mimosa, sandalwood, patchouli and tonka bean.

Tisci’s eight sisters and mother gave feedback on the scent. For its bottle and outer box, he mined the Givenchy archives.

“I wanted something very sharp, very classic, that would stay forever. Something that would represent couture elegance,” said Tisci, of the flacon conceived with Baron.

Dahlia Noir will be introduced on Aug. 7 exclusively in Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. It’s then to be launched in France toward the end of August and rolled out to the rest of the world in 2012. “We see this as a brand positioning and image opportunity, so we are keeping distribution very tight,” said Nicholas Munafo, president of the LVMH Fragrance Brands division, of the U.S. distribution strategy. “It is being positioned as our couture fragrance, the link between Givenchy fashion and beauty. We are expecting the volume by door to be very significant, establishing Dahlia Noir as a top-ranking brand and a classic of tomorrow.” In the U.S., the Dahlia Noir eau de parfum will come as 1.7- and 2.5-oz. sprays that retail for $90 and $100, respectively. The line also has ancillaries including, in certain retailers, a scented candle, and 200 Baccarat crystal-bottle editions.

Givenchy executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Dahlia Noir will generate first-year global wholesale revenues of more than $100 million.

Responding to rumors swirling that Tisci will be Dior’s next creative director, he said, “I really feel 100 percent in [Givenchy]. It took me six years of very tough work to make this cake. Now I’ve arrived at [the fragrance], the strawberry, and I want to enjoy and eat the cake. I don’t want to leave right now. I don’t think it’s the right moment.”


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