SENSATIONS: SANDER’S LEGACY

Byline: Jackie Cooperman

FLORENCE — Jil Sander may have walked out of the fashion house bearing her name nearly a year ago, but she left something behind — a new women’s scent, called Jil Sander Sensations.
“This is really Jil Sander’s project. She was involved in everything right through to picking the photographer of the ad,” said Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, the president of Lancaster, which owns the Jil Sander fragrance license. Sander left her company last August amid management disputes after Prada bought a majority stake in the house last summer. But she didn’t leave before making the final approvals on the new fragrance.
A two-day Sensations press presentation here, which included visits to sun-dappled villas and performances by modern dancers in flowing white skirts, was intended to convey the fragrance’s emphasis on well-being and sensuality.
Sensations, created by Nathalie Lorson of International Flavors & Fragrances, is classified as one of the new generation of “sheer orientals.” Its structure is not a pyramid configuration, but is based on four central accords: nettle flower; cereal milk, which mixes notes of milk, cereal and vanilla; iridescent skin, a blend of Tonka bean, balsam wood, amber and musk, and ivory sensual wood, an accord based on cedar and cashmeran woods and patchouli.
The company does not break out sales forecasts, but industry sources estimate that Sensations, which will roll out to European and Middle East markets in mid-October, could bring in between $50 million and $75 million in retail sales during its first 12 months in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America.
The 11-stockkeeping-unit collection ranges from hair spray and foaming shower gel to a traditional eau de toilette. Body products include a gel-based cashmere cream, in a pump bottle, and a body fragrance spray.
Prices run from $48 for a 75-ml. eau de toilette to $24 for a 150-ml. bath oil. Dollar figures have been converted from German marks using current conversion rates. Fabien Baron designed the frosted glass bottle.
In an attempt to target a slightly younger consumer, Lancaster has taken the unusual step of launching the entire range in one fell swoop.
“We are not talking about a fragrance, we are talking about a fragrance experience,” said Francoise Mariez, vice president of international marketing. The target, Hoejsgaard said, is women 25 years and older, about 10 years younger than most Jil Sander fragrances.
“We’re trying to position the body and bath range slightly lower, slightly more accessible, because it’s very important that we give people the opportunity to dive into the whole concept,” Hoejsgaard said. “We have no immediate plans to go into skin care, but we are pushing the border a little bit by giving a skin feel to the fragrance.”
Next March, Sensations will roll out to 200 doors in the U.S., including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Barneys New York and Sephora, and will later roll out to a total of 500 doors, said export manager Jacques Philie. In markets like Japan and North America, Lancaster is hoping to build on the success of last year’s Jil Sander for Men. Germany currently accounts for about 60 percent of all Jil Sander fragrance sales.
Lancaster has launched 11 other Jil Sander fragrances over the past 20 years, but only four of the scents have been introduced in North America.
“With Sander for Men, we realized the appeal of Sander worldwide, and we hope to build on that with Sensations,” said Philie, adding that Lancaster was also focusing on developing sales in Russia.
As for the politics of operating a license for a fashion label now owned by Prada, Hoejsgaard said the new ownership would not change Lancaster’s approach “one iota.”
“For us, there’s absolutely no change in the way we’re working with the Jil Sander brands,” said Hoejsgaard, adding that Lancaster holds the Jil Sander fragrance license through 2011.
“The fact that Jil Sander herself has left as head designer and chairwoman obviously is a change because we have worked with her very closely for 20 years. We will miss her creative input and her partnership,” Hoejsgaard said. “We will lose something, that close connection, but we will also gain something in our new friends at Prada.”
Indeed, “new friends” Roberto Massardi, Prada’s corporate finance and investment planning manager, and Giacomo Santucci, Prada’s director for new business development and group marketing and sales, attended Monday night’s dinner and sat at Hoejsgaard’s table.
“As in any license agreement, you are building your brand on the back of what the fashion does,” Hoejsgaard said. “So when we know what Prada’s plans are for opening [freestanding Jil Sander] boutiques in New York, Tokyo, London, that gives the backdrop for us to move in with the fragrance. It immediately gives an awareness and excitement about the brand.”
To create excitement about Sensations, Lancaster will be reinvesting about two-thirds of its sales in print advertising and in-store promotion campaigns in Germany, Austria, Benelux, Switzerland and the Middle East, Hoejsgaard said.
“In terms of the international expansion, in the Lancaster group we have 10 different houses. As of today, the Jil Sander house is not a global brand, because it’s very much anchored in Europe,” Hoejsgaard said. “But we feel very strongly that the house of Jil Sander has the potential to become a global property. We see the new partnership with Prada being along those lines.”

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