It’s a new day for Giorgio Armani in feminine beauty.

This story first appeared in the May 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

At least that is the vision of Veronique Gautier, worldwide president of the Giorgio Armani Parfums division of L’Oréal, who wants to “reinvent [it] in terms of luxury status.” In the past, Armani’s women’s fragrances didn’t match the sales power of the designer’s market-leading men’s brands. But that began to change in 2010 with the launch of the women’s scent Acqua di Gioia, which ranked number 14 globally last year, according to Gautier.

Now comes Sì, a feminine scent bolstered by the advertising featuring Cate Blanchett. As it rolled out through Europe in September, the new brand made “a tremendous entrance” in every market last fall, then in February made its debut in China, Armani’s fastest-growing market. With the exception of the U.S., where the fragrance had not yet been launched, “Sì was the best feminine launch worldwide in 2013,” Gautier declared. While the company does not break out sales projections, industry sources indicate that L’Oréal is targeting a top-10 ranking in the U.S. and around the world. That would amount to retail sales of $25 million in the first year for the U.S. alone. Industry sources also calculate the ad budget for the U.S. at roughly $20 million.

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Gautier attributed the improvement in sales performance to a strengthening of consistency of execution matching the image of the Armani brand. “It is sophisticated; it’s smart luxury and modern luxury,” she said. “Cate is timeless and modern.” Along with Sì, there are two other legs to Gautier’s strategy for building the feminine side of Armani’s beauty business. One is the color cosmetics and makeup collection, which achieved more than a 20 percent sales increase last year. The third axis is a skin-care launch expected next year. “We want to be the most luxurious makeup-artist brand,” Gautier said, pointing to the backstage influence of Linda Cantello, who collaborates with Armani on product creation.

Four years ago, the brand’s strength was limited to its top two men’s fragrances, but now the women’s side is flowering. Gautier asserted, “Giorgio Armani wants to show that he’s a global beauty actor.”

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