WESTWOOD BECKONS WITH BOUDOIR
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — Vivienne Westwood wants to welcome many people into her Boudoir.
The British designer, renowned for her eccentric fashions, will launch her first fragrance, called Boudoir, in an effort to seduce a wider audience.
The scent is the first of several to be developed by Lancaster under a licensing deal.
Boudoir will be introduced exclusively at Harvey Nichols in London and Leeds on Sept. 1, followed in November by a controlled rollout to stores in Germany, France and Italy.
The U.S. launch is slated for 1999, said Patrick Albaladejo, Lancaster’s senior vice president of international marketing.
Boudoir will offer Lancaster an opportunity to grow in the Far East, where Westwood is considered one of the world’s top designers. This is especially true in Japan.
Albaladejo did not specify a time frame for the launch into that region, however.
He declined to discuss sales projections for Boudoir, but industry sources expect it to do about $10 million at retail in the first year.
As for promotional efforts, Albaladejo said the scent will be backed by print advertising, but the campaign was not finalized at press time.
Boudoir represents a major step for both companies involved. Westwood is the first English designer signed by Lancaster, and the company is banking on her name supporting a major global fragrance program. Lancaster also markets Jil Sander, Joop and Nikos fragrance brands.
Lancaster is planning to introduce a men’s fragrance within the next year or 18 months and a less expensive, younger scent named after Westwood’s jeans line, Anglomania.
For Westwood, the license represents another milestone in her recently conceived strategy to go from a quirky, cult designer to a figure more in the fashion mainstream. The change began with the introduction last year of Anglomania under a license with the GTR Group of Italy.
The Anglomania line is expected to have worldwide sales of about $50 million this year. Westwood is now planning to build on its success — the company is looking to open a freestanding Anglomania store in London, following the opening of similar stores in Japan this year.
She also wants to open a freestanding store in Paris and is preparing to open a showroom, and eventually a freestanding store in the U.S., according to Westwood executives.
“Vivienne Westwood is a valuable addition to our range of houses,” Albaladejo said of the reasons for the launch. “She stands out as a very special designer and is in the league with Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. We thought it would give something more and not just be another designer doing a fragrance.”
Neither party is pretending it was easy to translate the Westwood style in fashion into a fragrance, however.
Executives from both companies admit it took Westwood months to sign off on the final scent — literally the day before the British launch of Boudoir was to take place in May.
“It was very stressful doing a perfume because it’s so intangible,” Westwood says. “But I felt it was important to complete the capsule of my business. For me, as a designer who doesn’t have a backer or investors, the greatest luxury is time and the perfume is part of that. If it’s a financial success it will bring me more freedom and time to design.”
Westwood said her aim with Boudoir was to give a sexier edge to the classic fragrances she remembers from her youth, including Schiaparelli’s Shocking.
“Each one of those old fragrances was so beautiful and so complete,” she said. “I wanted a fragrance like that but more modern.”
Martin Gras, senior perfumer at Dragoco, said he created Boudoir by dissecting Westwood’s fashion career — the way her clothes have always exaggerated the wearer’s femininity; their continual references to fashion history, but with a Westwood twist, and “the surprise, because everything Vivienne Westwood does is unexpected.”
Boudoir’s top note includes viburnum, which Gras says has never been used in perfumery before; it’s this accord that helps provide the fragrance’s mix of both green and oriental.
The middle notes are red English roses mixed with spicier notes of cardamom and coriander and warmer cinnamon. The base notes inject what Westwood calls an “animal” element and include amber, vanilla and sandalwood.
But Westwood put as much thought into the bottle as she did into the fragrance. Designed by Fabrice Legros, it draws influences from antique perfume flacons. The pale pink perfume is sealed with a traditional gold metal cord and gold seal embossed with Westwood’s signature orb design.
The stopper on the perfume bottle is a crystal glass ball covered with an antique gold Saturn ring set with Swarowski crystal gemstones.
The line will include six products — a perfume, three sizes of eau de parfum, a shower gel and a deodorant.
In the U.K., prices range between $33 for the deodorant and $134 for a 10-ml. perfume. A 50-ml. eau de parfum will retail for $75. All dollar prices were converted from the British pound at current exchange rates.
“We are not trying to recreate Vivienne Westwood’s fashion in a fragrance,” Albaladejo stressed. “They are two separate things, but they fit together completely. Someone who loves the Vivienne Westwood style will completely love the fragrance.”
Westwood certainly does. “My main thought was that it had to be beautiful and I think it is,” she said. “What’s most important is that it shouldn’t repulse people and I don’t think this does.”