KENZO’S NEW EQUATION: 2 INTRODUCTIONS IN 1996

Byline: Alev Akta

PARIS — Kenzo has a new recipe for fragrance: Take water, add some love, and you get L’Eau Par Kenzo. Or so goes the advertising tagline for the designer’s latest brand.
The Japanese-born, France-based designer’s new scent will bow in the Middle East, Latin America and Europe — except Germany — in April. It will roll out to Germany in May, then hit Asia, with the exception of Japan, in September. The U.S. and Japanese launches are slated for spring 1997. L’Eau is actually only the first of two Kenzo scents for women being launched this year. The second will be introduced in November — and will be backed by significantly more marketing muscle, according to Pierre Broc, president of Tamaris/Parfums Kenzo SA, a subsidiary of LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the French luxury goods conglomerate. “We’ll spend more on the new fall women’s fragrance launch in two months than we will in eight on L’Eau Par Kenzo,” he said, declining to reveal a budget.
Nevertheless, L’Eau will be backed by a print and poster campaign photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. The tagline is written as an equation — water is notated by H20, love is symbolized by a heart. “Kenzo wanted to go back to his roots,” said Broc. “Water is one of the elements of Zen philosophy.”
Industry sources say the new “floral-aquatic” scent could generate a volume of as much as $20 million at wholesale this year. The brand will be available in three sizes: a 100-ml. eau de toilette spray priced at $57 (285 francs); a 50-ml. version for $41 (205 francs); and a 30-ml. size for $29 (145 francs). The fragrance’s lightness could have special appeal in the Japanese market, where the company would like to have a stronger foothold. “It would be a suitable gift in Japan,” claimed Broc. He was careful to note, however, that the company’s ambitions for L’Eau are global. L’Eau Par Kenzo’s light qualities are also in line with recent fragrance trends in Europe. It is the third light but long-lasting eau de toilette for women launched this spring, after Rochas’s Fleur d’Eau and Cacharel’s Eau d’Eden. All have the fresh quality of an eau fraiche, but the concentration of an eau de toilette. There are also unisex introductions that fall into what the French are calling the “eau” category: Paco Rabanne’s Paco and Salvador Dali’s Dalimix, as well as Calvin Klein’s CK One, which was recently rolled out across France. Kenzo’s new fragrance was blended by Firmenich perfumer Olivier Cresp and has top notes of mandarin, reed stems, lilac green and frosty watermint. The floral heart is composed of paradise seed (a variety of Guinea pepper), water jasmine, white water lily, amaryllis and white peach. The base notes are blue cedar, musk flower and vanilla pods. The packaging was created by Desgrippes, Gobe & Associates, a design agency in Paris. The transparent bottle is meant to resemble a drop of water, according to Kenzo, and is housed in a white box stamped with Kenzo’s seal on the front and a poem by the designer on the back. Parfums Kenzo, which markets four fragrance brands, had sales of $78 million (391 million francs) in 1994. While Broc refused to disclose last year’s turnover, industry sources estimated that it increased approximately 20 percent to more than $90 million.

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