TOP NOTES

L’OREAL’S NEW SONG: L’Oreal Paris has crowned singer and actress (and onetime Miss America) Vanessa Williams as its latest spokeswoman.
Williams, who has a role in the movie “Soul Food” and is in the midst of a worldwide tour for her latest album, “Next,” will appear in a new TV commercial for L’Oreal Plenitude’s Futur-e cream. The ad was shot by Matthew Rolston and begins airing Sunday. Her role as a spokeswoman will be extended to other L’Oreal brands next year and she will be featured in ads around the world.

STANDING FIRM: Despite intensive lobbying efforts from a cross section of European fragrance companies, the European Union reaffirmed its decision to abolish intra-Europe duty-free sales in June 1999. “For us, nothing has changed on the subject,” said a European Union spokesman. “The decision to abolish duty-free was made some years ago by EU member states, and it won’t be revoked.” Still, the duty-free industry hasn’t lost hope. “It is normal that after the duty-free show at Cannes and heavy industry lobbying, the European Union would reiterate their stance — but that doesn’t mean that they won’t ultimately change their mind,” said one executive.

SCENT SENDOFFS: Jaipur Homme, the latest men’s fragrance from Boucheron, is off to a strong start in its exclusive U.S. run at the 30-unit Neiman Marcus and its corporate mate, the Bergdorf Goodman men’s store in New York.
Neiman’s and Bergdorf’s officially started selling Jaipur Homme Monday, although it has been on counters since Oct. 16. From that date through last Sunday, more than 400 bottles of the refillable eau de parfum spray were sold at Neiman’s, according to Michele Evrard, marketing director for Boucheron Parfum Paris. Prices range from $46 for an aftershave to $125 for the refillable eau de parfum spray.
Meanwhile, Escada (and its U.S. distribution arm, Adipar) showcased Paulina Porizkova, who is starring in the company’s fashion and fragrance advertising, as part of its launch of Escada Collection, the firm’s latest scent.
Porizkova visited the Saks flagship Oct. 14 to greet shoppers, and her presence had an impact: The Collection fragrance — a limited-edition “couture” brand — reportedly racked up sales of $35,000 in the store that week. The scent surpassed the $50,000 mark in October.

SEAL OF APPROVAL: Cosmetic Executive Women has created a seal that may be used by winners of the annual CEW beauty awards. Manufacturers may display the seal at point of sale, in advertising and on their products.
Federated Stores will celebrate the winners with counter displays and in-store events, and will include them in its beauty catalog. A mass market partner will be announced shortly.
The awards are presented to the “most innovative” mass and prestige items in seven categories, as voted by the 800 members of CEW.
Vendors must enter their 1997 beauty launches in the contest by Nov. 14. The products will be shown at the Yale Club in New York Jan. 27, and the awards will be presented March 26 at the Waldorf-Astoria.
The CEW board also announced the creation of a new Beauty Editors’ Choice Award to honor the individual who made the most impact on the industry in 1997.

ON THE MARKET: Augros, a Paris firm that specializes in beauty product packaging, said it will float an offering on the unlisted securities market in Paris within six months to raise $8.6 million to $10.2 million (50 million to 60 million francs). Augros projects its sales this year will reach $37.7 million (220 million francs), and net profits will be $1.9 million (11.5 million francs). The company’s volume has quadrupled in 10 years.

CABANE TO HEAD FED: Alain Grange Cabane has been named president of the Federation des Industries de la Parfumerie, the organization that represents 250 French cosmetics, toiletry, hair care and fragrance manufacturers. He will take office Jan. 1, when Michel Mosser is slated to retire.

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