Byline: Jennifer Weil

PARIS — Gucci is launching Stella into its beauty firmament.
Gucci Group said Thursday that YSL Beaute, the group’s fragrance and cosmetics division, has secured a long-term license to develop, manufacture and distribute fragrances and cosmetics for the Stella McCartney brand.
“She is a great talent and really loves the product,” said Domenico De Sole, chairman and chief executive of the Gucci Group, who said a McCartney fragrance could be launched in 2003. He added that McCartney had initiated the idea of a fragrance, which was not part of initial talks between the designer and Gucci.
Gucci and McCartney had jointly created Stella McCartney Ltd. in early April for the worldwide development of her line of women’s ready-to-wear, accessories and fragrance. It is believed that De Sole saw broad potential in a McCartney scent.
McCartney is not YSL Beaute’s first fashion focus. The announcement comes four months after it signed on a beauty license with Alexander McQueen and one with Ermenegildo Zegna.
“I think we have a very good beauty portfolio,” said De Sole, who continued that while the firm’s “number-one goal is to work and develop the new brands,” YSL Beaute would not be averse to looking into other opportunities making long-term sense.
YSL Beaute’s beauty business also currently includes such brands as Yves Saint Laurent, Roger & Gallet, Boucheron and Balenciaga, plus the beauty licenses for Oscar de la Renta, Van Cleef & Arpels and Fendi.
With most of the old couture names well dusted off and thriving, the beauty industry is turning to the next generation of names to keep the business vital and fresh.
These designers, each with a recognizable style, are focusing their creative energies on marketing, packaging and product development to cater to a hip, young clientele eager to spend. All this before most of them have become household names — a new designer strategy.
Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors each launched fragrances this fall, while about a year ago Helmut Lang opened a freestanding perfumery in New York with his licensee Procter & Gamble, maker of his eponymous scents.
In most cases, designers are keen to launch a fragrance as a potent and personal way of expressing their aesthetic. And they recognize the timing is good, given how the fashion and beauty business is becoming ever more hungry for newness and buzz.