Byline: Soren Larson

NEW YORK — Bob Mackie — a fashion icon of the loud, aggressive Eighties — has chosen a theme of quiet ambivalence for his latest fragrance.
As a counterbalance to his flashy signature scent, the designer’s new women’s effort will be called Perhaps. Riviera Concepts, Mackie’s fragrance licensee, will launch it in April in about 950 department and specialty store doors.
“We’ve gone a different route with this one,” said Mackie, ticking off the differences between Perhaps and the Mackie fragrance, launched in 1991. Mackie for Men followed the next year.
“It’s in more in tune with the times,” he said. “I had the idea of doing something quieter and softer. The first [women’s scent] has those bright colors and it jumps out at you on the shelf. For that one, I wanted a bright, carnival feeling.
“Perhaps is more subdued,” he added. “It’s meant to have a mysterious glamour.”
The original still has a following, Mackie said, and the designer continues to promote it by making store appearances. He stopped in at The Bay in Toronto on Nov. 9. and will hit Dillards in Oklahoma City on Nov. 23.
“We’ve got a good following with the first fragrance; we’ve been somewhat less successful with Mackie for Men,” said David A.J. Nugent, president and chief executive officer of the Toronto-based Riviera Concepts.
He noted that the original women’s scent has an annual retail volume of about $10 million: “It’s a nice business. It’s clean and steady.”
In its first year, Nugent said, Perhaps should double the sales of its women’s predecessor. To achieve that, Riviera will launch the fragrance with an advertising budget “bigger than what we’d normally do,” Nugent said.
He would not divulge specific figures, but sources estimate the company will spend around $3 million on advertising next year for Perhaps.
The first ads will break in March editions of the major fashion magazines as well as an expanded range of lifestyle magazines, such as Traditional Home and Martha Stewart Living.
Mackie said he is in the midst of working on the advertising imagery. One potential shot, he said, is of a woman lighting candles, which is meant to project the fragrance’s enigmatic image: “You don’t know if it’s a dinner for two or for 20.”
Riviera will distribute 65 million scented impressions of Perhaps as part of the campaign, as well as through in-store promotions and direct mail, Nugent said.
The Perhaps prices are about 10 percent lower than the Mackie line, starting with a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum for $45. The collection will also include a 1-oz. perfume for $95; a 3-oz. eau de parfum for $58; a 7-oz. body mousse for $35, and a 7-oz. body wash for $30.
A 1-oz. eau de parfum for $30 will be sold as a “launch special” for about the first eight weeks.
The new fragrance’s makeup also differs from the first. Mackie described the signature scent as a “rich, oriental floral.” The new one, he said, is “softer.”
Perhaps, created by Givaudan Roure, has a mimosa top note, for which Givaudan simulated the scent of champagne. The other top notes include orange and peach, the middle notes are jasmine, rose and freesia and the base notes are amber, sandalwood and “blond” wood.
The color scheme for Perhaps is also less jazzy than with Mackie. The clear bottle, which features pleats in a nod to the designer’s apparel, contains apricot-colored juice, with the box also featuring subtle shades of apricot.
Still, while it has made adjustments, Riviera Concepts is not completely backing away from Mackie’s glitzy reputation.
“He used to be called the Sultan of Sequins,” said Nugent. “Things are a bit different now, but there’s no point in him designing convent-school uniforms because that’s not what he does.”
The new fragrance could be helped by Mackie’s comeback in the ready-to-wear business. After a three-year hiatus, during which he sold accessories on QVC and designed theatrical costumes, the designer returned this fall with a collection of special-occasion dresses. Additionally, Mackie has signed with Lavan to produce a line of fall coats as well as a suit collection, possibly next spring.
According to market reports, the designer’s new collection — sold in upscale stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom — has gotten off to a solid start. Sales are reportedly 30 percent higher than the original plan, which is said to have called for a volume of about $2 million in the first year.
“It’s good to be back, but it’s also good to have something new,” said Mackie, referring to both the clothes and the fragrance. “We all hate to sell the same thing over and over.”