PARIS — They exploded onto the fragrance scene in 2005 with Flowerbomb, and next up Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf is preparing for the launch on Sept. 6 of an e-commerce platform dedicated to its signature scents under L’Oréal.
Features of the site, for now geared to the U.S. market, will include exclusive customization options for the bottles of the Flowerbomb, Spicebomb and Bonbon scents, including a choice of colors and quirky accessories based on the house’s couture codes, like bows. It will also offer four unique bottle designs for the Flowerbomb fragrance and a “Secret Service” rewards program for VIP customers.
“Consumers are craving experiences, customization and the convenience of online shopping. With the launch of our new Viktor & Rolf website and the ‘Dress Up Your Bottle’ functionality, we answer everything they are looking for,” said Laura Azaria, VP marketing, Viktor & Rolf Fragrances US.
A launch party will take place on Sept. 8. at Cadillac House on Hudson Street in downtown New York. The event will also celebrate an installation — “Masterclass” — themed around the brand’s 25th anniversary in an on-site space curated by Visionaire’s Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos. The set was designed by Stefan Beckman.
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The brief, explained Viktor & Rolf cofounder Viktor Horsting, was to create something interactive that would speak to the social media generation. “So Rolf [Snoeren] and I decided to take that very request as the subject.”
The duo cast models Maria Borges and Coco Rocha in two mini videos chronicling the brand’s conceptual body of work in 25 seconds. “Very short,” quipped Horsting, explaining how the models use life-size cutouts of their most iconic looks to animate the films. Collections featured include “Atomic Bomb” (1998), “One Woman Show” (2003), “Bedtime Story” (2005), “No” (2008) and “Cutting Edge Couture” (2010).
In the space, visitors will be invited to stick their heads through the holes of the same cutouts and pose for Selfies. “It’s one big photo opportunity combined with a crash course on Viktor & Rolf,” said Horsting of the installation which wraps on Nov. 4.
Snoeren and Horsting in the business are known as consummate showmen. (Their “Russian Doll” collection in 1999, where the designers dressed tiny Maggie Rizer rotating on a turntable in nine layers of crystal-studded finery, figures among the highlights.) But now that the fragrance business has become “so big and global, there are a lot of people who know Viktor & Rolf as a fragrance brand,” Horsting conceded.
The designers were surprised by the runaway success of Flowerbomb. “We created [the fragrance] in the same way we create our couture,” Horsting said. “We thought, ‘OK, maybe this name will be difficult for them,’ but they just went along with it.” (L’Oréal estimates the blockbuster scent ranks among the top 16 prestige women’s fragrances worldwide.)
“But for us, it’s a part of the universe — like the couture and the wedding dresses. I just hope people also relate to that,” added the designer who wasn’t able to say how the success of the brand’s fragrances may have impacted clothing sales. Being approached by L’Oréal “proved a major boost, not just from a business point of view, but also in terms of receiving trust from this big company, as a young up-and-coming brand,” he offered. Driving the project was the late Patricia Turck Paquelier, former international brand president of L’Oréal’s Prestige & Collection International division, “who was really our fairy godmother.”
OTB SpA, the group of Italian industrialist Renzo Rosso, holds a majority stake in the brand which in 2015 halted its women’s and men’s collections to concentrate on couture, fragrances and special projects. In 2006, the Dutch duo teamed with H&M for a one-time collection hinged on wedding dresses that unleashed pandemonium in stores, and today, their bridal business is thriving, Horsting said, with growing demand from private clients in the Middle East.
Regarding their 25th anniversary fall 2018 couture collection, based on remakes of conceptual highlights from across the brand’s history — think a tulle gown with clean holes carved out of the skirt or the Bedtime Stories dress with a collar of inbuilt pillows fanning at the neck — the pair is in talks with a museum in the Netherlands to sell a part of the collection as a group, he said.
Even if from the outside, the fragrances may have eclipsed the fashion, for Horsting, the two worlds go together.
“There’s a constant exchange between L’Oréal and ourselves, and naturally Rolf and I are always thinking about fragrances. I think, perhaps, if there’s a secret, then it’s that fragrance has always been a part of our universe and our creativity,” he said.
“When we create something, we always think about fragrance; it’s just an integral part of the stuff we think about: ‘Oh, could this be a fragrance?’”