Byline: Brid Costello / With contributions from Nicole Kaldes, Milan; Sarah Harris, London, and Melissa Drier, Berlin

PARIS — If 1999 was the year of duos and masterbrands and 2000 was the year of women’s scents, 2001 will go down in the annals as the year of men’s fragrance in Europe.
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Groupe Clarins and L’Oreal — through their Parfums Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler and Lancome divisions, respectively — pulled out all the stops on eaux for him this fall. And it paid off: The companies’ Higher, Cologne and Miracle Homme scents are currently vying for top spots on European perfumery shelves in the run-up to the holiday season.
On the women’s front, Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle is the hands-down winner among new names, according to the 17 retailers recently queried representing 2,608 doors in France, the U.K., Germany and Italy.
In these uncertain times, consumers are particularly taken with well-known brands and traditional fragrance concepts. Take Mugler’s Cologne, which was inspired by old-fashioned cologne, and Coco Mademoiselle, with its fresh spin on the Chanel image. These seem to give reassurance to consumers spooked by economic uncertainties and wary of spending on high-ticket fragrance items.
Perfumery departments, which had been on track for double-digit gains for 2001 pre-Sept. 11, have downgraded their forecasts to low to mid-single-digit growth.
And buyers fear the euro, the common currency to be adopted by 12 European nations, starting Jan. 1, could cause significant short-term drops in sales due to consumer confusion. Some retailers also worry there could be a backlash if brands take advantage of the unstable period and raise product prices, although beauty firms deny that is in the offing.
In European perfumeries, Dior racked up high points with Higher, its first men’s scent created with its men’s designer Hedi Slimane, which is expected to ring up $60 million in retail sales its first year, according to industry sources. All that, despite a shaky start, due to its Sept. 11 introduction.
“I don’t see any weakness [in the scent],” said Sophie Malivert, buyer and head of the fragrance and beauty department at Paris’s one-unit Samaritaine department store early in the holiday spending season. “The fragrance is accessible, the packaging modern and the target young.”
“The Higher advertising is very striking and has been a very successful transition for Christian Dior — from the traditional classics to the modern, younger consumer,” noted Emma Gladdish, brand development manager for cosmetics and fragrance at Harvey Nichols’s three U.K. doors.
Higher nosed Chanel’s Allure for Men and Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male out of top spots by October at Galeries Lafayette’s Paris flagship, according to Catherine Deburge, perfumery buyer there. And it was the second best-selling men’s scent at Germany’s 428-door Douglas in November.
At France’s 825-door Parfumeries Marionnaud, the fragrance will soon make it into the men’s top 10, said Philippe Charoing, the perfumery’s managing director.
Mugler’s Cologne was also launched in September in France, Belgium, Switzerland and the U.K. It is more niche and idiosyncratic than Higher, said buyers, with its twist cap and unisex advertising, yet it is culling an ample following. Buyers cite its juice — including fruity top and spicy heart notes — and bottle, among its strengths.
“Cologne started very well,” said Galeries Lafayette’s Deburge, who added it has also been a hit among women, which make up 50 percent of its purchasers. “It smells clean, it’s a regressive scent — reminiscent of childhood — easy to wear, and that pleases.”
“[It is] very cleverly created and executed in terms of packaging, advertising and the juice,” added Harvey Nichols’s Gladdish. “Without the tag of a unisex fragrance, which is an area in the fragrance market totally over-catered to, this fragrance will appeal to both sexes.”
Both Higher and Cologne were going strong at two-door Selfridges in the U.K. There, their combined sales should reach by yearend $144,583 at current exchange rates, according to Claudia Lucus, buying and merchandise manager.
Lancome’s Miracle Homme recently picked up steam after its October European introduction. The scent — which buyers said raised some initial concern regarding Lancome’s low brand awareness among men — is now being lauded.
Some point to Miracle Homme’s advertising campaign, featuring French actor Mathieu Kassovitz, a star of the blockbuster film “Amelie,” as a major selling point. “As the launch came at the same time as the film, the fragrance has also generated lots of public interest,” said Caroline Hindle, assistant manager for perfumery and cosmetics at Harrods’s London flagship.
“The fragrance is good, the price is correct and the campaign is intriguing,” said Stefano Biagi, director of sales for Italy’s 200-door Gruppo Limoni chain. A 50-ml. eau de toilette, for instance, goes for $33.50.
Also in Italy, Miracle Homme is selling well at 34-door Coin, according to buyer Paolo Calvi, as it is at nine-door Profumerie Sabbioni, said buyer and co-owner Rosa Sabbioni.
And Miracle Homme ranked third in men’s scents in November at German perfumery giant Douglas.
Among other new men’s fragrance, buyers also noted strong performances from Paco Rabanne’s Ultraviolet Man, Bulgari’s Bulgari Blu Pour Homme, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Zanzibar, Donna Karan’s DKNY and Montblanc’s Presence.
In the recent crop of women’s scents, Coco Mademoiselle has struck all the right chords, according to European buyers. The little sister to the 15-year-old Coco scent, Mademoiselle — an oriental — was introduced in Europe in September, six months after the rest of the world.
“There’s no contest, Coco Mademoiselle works very well,” said Veronique Boisseau, selective perfumery and makeup buyer at Paris’s Bon Marche department store.
In fact, the scent is selling so well that some European fragrance-sellers are currently sold out. Coco Mademoiselle’s strength, according to Kate Whitehead, perfumery buyer for the U.K.’s 51-door House of Fraser, is its “strong advertising [that features top model Kate Moss], brand identity and juice.”
Patrice Brosson, director of category management for Sephora’s 180 French doors, said: “Chanel is not a brand that often comes out with new fragrances, so when it does bring out a scent there is a strong response from the market.”
Coco Mademoiselle ranked second in women’s scents at Germany’s 650-door Parma-Aurel perfumery cooperative in October, according to Bernd-Jurgen Hohfeld, its director of marketing. At France’s Galeries Lafayette, it came in fourth that month, said buyer Deburge.
Hugo Boss’s Deep Red is the next best-selling new women’s scent in Europe, particularly among 25-to-30-year-olds, said buyers.
At Douglas, it topped November’s best-seller list for women’s scents, with strong sales due in part to its big TV and print advertising push, said a Douglas spokeswoman. Others said its reasonable price points — a 50-ml. eau de parfum sells for $36, for instance — and easy-to-understand concept are also key to its success.
Yves Saint Laurent Parfums’ first fragrance developed with creative director Tom Ford, Nu, has met with mixed reviews since its mid-October worldwide launch.
One European buyer who asked to remain anonymous, said it was introduced in a difficult period. “[Most of the other new] fragrances were on the counters by September; this one was launched after, and, as a consequence, it didn’t do it any favors,” she said. “[Nu] launched in October, which was the worst month for us, due to the events of Sept. 11.”
For some, the scent has had a good turnout. “Nu works very well,” said Bon Marche’s Boisseau. Harrods’s Hindle also said Nu “is attracting many admirers.”
But, while some buyers said consumers respond well to the fragrance’s compact-like packaging, others said it does not make an alluring window display.
“From a price standpoint, it’s possibly a bit high for someone who just wants to try a new scent,” said Renate Engelmann, buyer and divisional manager of the prestige cosmetics department at Berlin’s KaDeWe department store; Nu’s price tag for a 3.3-oz. eau de parfum spray is $95. “So sales are a bit restrained.”
Yet, many agree it is a scent that should continue building a following in the long term.
For its part, Parfums Chopard’s Madness is off to a good start at Germany’s 215-door Intercos cooperative, said a spokesman there. It has also had a strong launch in Harrods, thanks to its advertising campaign featuring actress Salma Hayek and in-store promotions, said Hindel.
Marc Jacobs Perfume, by Parfums Givenchy Inc., was Harvey Nichols’s biggest launch of this year, according to Gladdish. “[Its] no-frills packaging is simple yet feminine and brings back the feeling of luxury, ” she said.
Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue and Gucci Rush 2 are selling well at Limoni. “Gucci Rush 2 is a fashion accessory [in line] with the relaunch of the Gucci brand image+its fragrance is not bad,” said buyer Biagi, who added Light Blue “is a success.”
But those scents have proven a more difficult sell at Italy’s 34-door Coin perfumery chain, according to Paolo Calvi, perfumery buyer there. Umberto Boniardi, director of Milan’s seven-door Garbo Perfumeria chain, agreed, adding the former is more of a summer scent, while the other’s ad campaign is not widespread enough to attract significant attention.
Jean Paul Gaultier’s eau de toilette version of Fragile has gotten the thumbs-up from buyers, who say its more floral juice is an easier sell than its tuberose-based eau de parfum Fragile counterpart, launched in September 1999.
Laura Biagiotti’s Emotion is ringing up good sales at Douglas and Limoni.
Also this holiday season, there has been a proliferation of beauty coffret.
“We’ve done very well with gift sets this year,” said KaDeWe’s Engelmann. “They were around before, but this year, they’re meeting with a good response. Lauder’s is unique with makeup and body-care sets, and wellness ideas are also doing well.”
And among last year’s group of new women’s names, Parfums Kenzo’s Flower by Kenzo remains a winner, according to buyers. “Flower is still a huge success; it works very well,” said Samaritaine’s Malivert. “Its scores are up on last year, when it was the success of the century.”
Lancome’s Miracle and Estee Lauder’s Intuition are still gaining momentum, too, said buyers.
As is traditionally the case, classic scents for both sexes, including Chanel No. 5, Mugler’s Angel, Guerlain’s Shalimar, Calvin Klein’s CK One, Gaultier’s Le Male and Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Gio for Men, remain bestsellers.

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