Byline: Jennifer Weil

PARIS — Marc Jacobs is a master of offbeat ingenue sophistication.
Like his eponymous fashion collection, his first fragrance is charming without being saccharine, a fine balance of contrasts. “It is pretty without being girly, strong without being tough,” he said.
Jacobs has a discerning nose. “I am very conscious of how people smell when they are nearby,” he said. “Lots of memories are attached to fragrance. I like scents at home — I might burn candles. I like things that smell very clean and very fresh.”
Like gardenias. Each week Jacobs orders the pungent flowers to be delivered to his home, where he floats them in a shallow bowl of water. “The fragrance fills the room right away — it is a very intoxicating floral that is not heavy,” he continued.
It’s no surprise, then, that gardenia is the dominant note in his new fragrance — Marc Jacobs Perfume.
Marc Jacobs Perfume will be marketed by the recently formed American Designer Fragrances division of Parfums Givenchy Inc., the North American subsidiary of the Paris-based Parfums Givenchy, a division of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The New York effort is headed by Camille McDonald, president and chief executive officer of Parfums Givenchy Inc.
Marc Jacobs Perfumes will debut in the U.S. in about 200 specialty doors, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, and select Jacobson’s and Marshall Field’s in September.
There are also plans for an international rollout. “I think Marc has enormous potential in Europe and Asia,” said McDonald, who explained that he has freestanding doors in Asia, where it also has a “big” business with Isetan.
“The timing is right,” said Robert Duffy, president at Marc Jacobs. “We are expanding our business, our product categories. It has always been a dream of ours to do a fragrance.”
Parfums Givenchy executives declined to talk numbers, but sources estimate the scent could generate more than $8 million at retail in its first 12 months. McDonald said she is aiming for the top three, wherever the fragrance is sold.
Marc Jacobs Perfume is targeted to women 25 to 45, according to McDonald, who added the reach could possibly be wider, since “Marc Jacobs is a god to high-end fashion consumers in their late teens and twenties.”
At press time, the fragrance’s juice had not been finalized, but McDonald said its smell is a modern take on gardenia backed with sensual undertones. Neither has the final decision been made on the print advertising, which was shot by Juergen Teller. She said key to the fragrance’s identity was capturing Jacobs’s style, including his subtle irony and his love of classical creations. Take the Marc Jacobs Perfume packaging, created by Jacobs along with an in-house designer. The perfume is contained in a low-standing rectangular, thick crystal bottle. It has rounded edges and a flat stopper engraved with his name. Jacobs said: “I didn’t like the idea of a name for a perfume.” So, he went ahead and used his own name, as he did for his shoe line.
The familiar is also apparent in the perfume’s outer packaging. The white- and-black box has a handle like a shopping bag’s. This is because “the shopping bag of our store looked right,” explained Jacobs. Even its typeface echoes the lettering on his company’s letterhead.
The link with fashion is evident as well, with the leather collars and bows around the necks of the fragrance bottles. “Leather is quite fashionable,” said Jacobs, adding he nixed the idea of using a ribbon because it would be “too precious. Leather is tough, but classic.”
The Marc Jacobs Perfume line includes a 0.5-oz. perfume pour that should retail for about $250; the 3.4-oz. eau de parfum will retail for about $80; a 1.7-oz. version for $60; a 5.1-oz. body lotion for $48; a 5.1-oz. shower gel for $40 and a 5-oz. body creme for $75. A 0.25-oz. perfume purse spray will be available for the holiday season and is expected to retail for about $95.
The ancillaries have a wet-dry effect, said McDonald, who explained this is due to their silicon base.
Sampling will begin in late May, when up to 5,000 “trendsetters” will start being sent miniatures of the fragrance and some ancillaries. There will also be silk gardenias to be used as testers in-store, vials, plus a weekend supply of fragrance, cream and lotion, which will be given out as gift-with-purchase.