THE 167-YEAR-OLD D’ORSAY BACK ON SCENT SCENE
Byline: Jenny B. Fine
NEW YORK — Parfums D’Orsay — founded in 1830 — is trying to make something old new again.
The company has reintroduced four of its classic scents here — Etiquette Bleue, created in 1908; Chevalier d’Orsay, dating back to 1911; Tilleul from 1955, and the relatively recent Arome 3 from 1965.
Intoxication D’Amour, a women’s scent first introduced in 1942, will also be revived later this year, although launch details have not yet been finalized.
Originally founded by Alfred, Count d’Orsay — whose original mission was to create a scent for his English mistress, Lady Blessington, a woman said to have disliked the strong, musky scents popular at the time — the company hit its stride in the early-to-mid-1900s, with stores in Manhattan, London and Milan, among other places.
But by the late Fifties, the firm began to falter with a loss of sales momentum, culminating in a departure from the U.S. market and a minimal presence overseas.
In 1993, a group of French investors bought the company, with the aim of breathing new life into the brand.
The four scents, three of which are billed as unisex, bowed in mid-March in Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s store here. Plans are to expand distribution in the U.S. to 50 doors this year, according to Pascal F. Arnaud, president of PFA, the brand’s American distributor. He is projecting a first-year retail sales volume of $3.5 million to $5 million.
While Arnaud said he is currently negotiating with a specialty store chain, he said that the bulk of the brand’s distribution will be in upscale perfumeries and pharmacies, such as Parfumerie Douglas.
The original fragrance recipes for the scents has not been tampered with, but the line has been given a new, more modern look. The bottles resemble an inkwell, meant to evoke the Count’s passion for penmanship, and feature the d’Orsay family crest on the bottom, harking back to his aristocratic ancestry.
Each scent is available in four sizes — a 100-ml. version for $75, 200-ml. priced at $115, a 500-ml. pour for $160 and a special order 1-litre bottle for $300. There is also a box of three soaps for $45 and a half-pound version for $30.