Erno Laszlo is being born again this spring.
This story first appeared in the November 18, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Nearly a year after the February 2011 acquisition of Erno Laszlo by Charles Denton, former chief executive officer and deputy chairman of Molton Brown, Denton is repackaging and relaunching the brand in the spring.
“A lot of people tried to put their own thumbprint on Erno Laszlo,” said Denton, ceo of Erno Laszlo. “Every time that happened, the brand moved farther away from what it originally was. This brand has an extraordinary heritage of 85 years. What I am trying to do is honor the heritage in a modern way.”
Denton began by slashing the 127 stockkeeping units he inherited to a mere 47. That included completely eliminating color cosmetics — “we’re in the skin care business, not color,” he said — as well as “anything trendy.” What was kept: nearly all of the brand’s founder’s original products. “Erno Laszlo was one of the first skin care brands to use SPF, to talk about collagen and talk about antibacterial properties. Our position is that we have a solution for every skin condition.” Next, Denton rejiggered the packaging. Currently the products have opaque, marble-patterned white packaging with black printing, with many of the products in plastic. The new packaging is for the most part glass, in black and bronze and will be phased in starting with the Hollywood Collection. Denton has also separated the products into different ranges addressing specific skin concerns. Prevention is the regular everyday maintenance line, and three Correction lines have been created: Firmarine for elasticity and firming, TranspHuse for lines and wrinkles and Luminous for brightening.
To honor some of the founder’s muses — including Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Greta Garbo — the brand will launch the Hollywood Collection in January at Nordstrom and February in the balance of its 150 U.S. department and specialty store doors. Each muse’s favorite product of yesteryear has been reformulated with the latest technology, said Denton. For Gardner, that is Instant Eye Repair, $85 for 0.5 oz.; for Monroe, Morning Beauty Rescue, $95 for 1.7 oz.; for Hepburn, Intensive Porcelain Veil, $140 for 1.7 oz.; for Kelly, Refresh Moisture Infusion, $125 for 1.7 oz., and for Garbo, Velvet Night Cream, $175 for 1.7 oz. A $125 limited edition collection with miniatures of the entire lineup will also be sold.
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Erno Laszlo’s international doors include Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Italy, and will add the U.K. to that list in April.
“We’re launching Erno Laszlo exclusively in April because it is a brand with heritage, provenance and reputation for effective and visible results,” said Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director at Harrods. “It has an enormously loyal following. We have customers who are loyal Laszlo followers who have been unable to buy the product in the U.K. for some time, and the desirability factor is definitely there and it’s high. The Laszlo products themselves are great, the texture is quite unique and the application much simplified. We believe Laszlo will do well in this market.”
While Denton declined to discuss projected sales, industry sources estimated that Erno Laszlo currently does about $30 million globally in retail sales per year.