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PARIS — Lancôme will launch what it calls “the miracle cream,” Absolue L’Extrait, starting in April.

This story first appeared in the March 23, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“[It’s] the most noble, the most expensive and certainly the most efficient piece of the Absolue equity,” said Youcef Nabi, president of Lancôme International, referring to the brand’s uberluxurious franchise.

Ten years ago, the L’Oréal-owned brand invested in a laboratory focused on plant stem cells using biotechnology. “The idea is to use the vegetal cells as a source of actives,” said Nabi, who added the lab investigated how plant stem cells act on human skin. Specifically, they began working on the Lancôme Rose, which was created in 1973 and is the emblem of the Lancôme brand.

“This rose was selected from about 20,000 species because it was the most resilient and has a very strong ability to resist all aggressions — cold, insects, anything that could harm it,” continued Nabi.

Through a new biotechnological cocooning procedure called Fermogenesis, scientists transformed a cell of the Lancôme Rose into a rose stem cell.

“These rose stem cells are the first identified actives that act on the regeneration of stem cells that are in the [human] dermis,” explained Nabi. Such cells, which are found in the deepest layers of skin, are essential to its overall renewal since as people age they have fewer and less active dermal stem cells.

“It is a kind of [the skin’s heart],” continued the executive. “If you touch this place, you can really rejuvenate your skin down and up, at 360 degrees.”

Each jar of Absolue L’Extrait contains two million rose stem cells.

“Once you put these rose stem cells in contact with the human stem cells, you have 63 percent more of these cells in the skin that stay at their optimum level, which is really a first,” said Nabi. The executive explained there is an effect on signs of aging, including facial contour, pigmentation and wrinkles.

Also in the new cream are other active ingredients, such as Proxylane, which are said to help epidermal regeneration.

In a press document, Nabi describes Absolue L’Extrait as “the most precious of Lancôme creams because it is, without a doubt, the most effective cream that has ever been developed by our researchers. The miracle cream. The real one.”

Absolue L’Extrait’s jar design takes a cue from that of Nutrix, which was introduced by Lancôme in 1936. Both products’ containers are colored black with gold.

Nabi claimed Absolue L’Extrait is “the first cream that transforms on your skin into a serum.” The texture purportedly helps release the rose stem cells.

Lancôme created a tool for applying the product and for massage, as well.

Absolue L’Extrait is to be launched in April in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It will be carried in the U.S. beginning in June in 90 sales points — mainly Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman — and online.

In the U.S., the 50-ml. jar is to be priced at $350.

Lancôme executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Absolue L’Extrait will generate $60 million at retail in its first six months worldwide.

The cream can be used by people of all ages at any time of day or night on faces, around the eye area, plus on hands or chests.

Julia Roberts is the face of the Absolue line and will appear in visuals in-store and in multipage advertorials for Absolue L’Extrait, especially in Asia. Elsewhere, there will be single- and double-page ads featuring the product.

Absolue is Lancôme’s third-largest franchise, although in regions such as Asia it ranks first due to its premium positioning, said Nabi. There, in early in 2011, Lancôme created Absolue-dedicated corners and now has almost 400 such locations.

“Our aim is to go to 800,” said the executive, adding the concept has started to be rolled out elsewhere, beginning with Harrods in the U.K.

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