LE FEU LIGHT: RADIANCE OF ISSEY MIYAKE’S FIRE
Byline: Jennifer Weil / With contributions from Pete Born, New York
PARIS — Issey Miyake thinks he has seen the light.
It’s a bright, white ball of light in the guise of his new women’s fragrance, Le Feu d’Issey Light.
The scent — the second under the Le Feu d’Issey banner — is meant to lure the tween set and strengthen Miyake’s foothold in the fragrance market. It will be launched this September, two years after its predecessor, Le Feu d’Issey, came to market.
Le Feu d’Issey Light means “Issey’s light fire” in French. But executives at Paris-based Beaute Prestige International (BPI), the parent company of Parfums Issey Miyake and a French subsidiary of the Japanese giant Shiseido, stressed that the fragrance is anything but a lighter version of Le Feu d’Issey. Instead, they explained, it has an entirely different image. While Le Feu Light is meant to evoke the vision of light shining through a sheath of ice, Le Feu is about a fiery sunrise.
Both of the scents, however, were inspired by the energy of Miyake’s brightly colored, bouncy and younger-spirited apparel line, called Pleats Please. “Pleats Please is a good analogy for the scents,” explained Richard Beardsley, international vice president of BPI. “While the clothing line is made of modern fabrics, the fragrances’ bottles are also of modern materials.”
But Le Feu Light is expected to attract an even younger clientele than the original Feu. “I think it is quite lighthearted,” Beardsley continued, referring to its packaging, advertising, price points and juice: “It is very easy to wear.
“We really think it will pick up customers in their late teens or early 20s,” he continued. And that has become a demographic with deep pockets. “If we can add 20 percent to 30 percent on to our business by this time next year, we’ll feel like we are on to a good thing,” he said.
Beardsley refused to talk numbers, but industry sources estimate Le Feu Light could generate a global wholesale volume of $80 million once it has rolled out to all markets.
(All figures are at current exchange rates.)
The scent — which is the fourth for Miyake — is due to hit France Sept. 25 and then will be on shelves worldwide on Oct. 4.
Le Feu Light and Le Feu bear a strong family resemblance. For instance, the juices of both, which were conceived by Firmenich perfumer Jacques Cavallier, contain milky amber and gaic wood notes in their base. But, whereas Le Feu d’Issey is much heavier — a floral spicy wood — Light is a fresh floral containing top notes of essences of rose and bergamot and middle notes of gardenia.
Both have spherical bottles designed by French designer Gwenael Nicolas, but Le Feu Light is white with a resonance of red and Le Feu is red with touches of orange. Each is formed of a special type of plastic, called PCTA Waterclear, inside of which is a transparent globe that is an inner bottle formed by fusing two cones together. The result is a prism that turns different shades of color when the sphere is rotated. The pair has an innovative form of patented spray device that allowed the company to dispense with a cap.
The design of the box that holds Le Feu was tweaked to be streamlined like its new relative’s. So was its advertising.
The company plans to play the two scents off each other in stores and magazines. Not only will they be side-by-side on counters, but the ads for both scents, photographed by Daniel Jouanneau, will break together at launch time. Each fragrance has a single-page ad with an image of a flower — a red arum lily for Le Feu and a cornus shrub for Le Feu Light — a fragrance, the name of the scent and the firm on a white background. The idea is to run them on successive pages to familiarize clients with the new scent. While one month the ad for Le Feu will come first, the next month the ad for Le Feu Light will lead, a company spokeswoman said.
And because the fragrance could interest a young consumer, the firm chose to place its ads in the first edition of Vogue Teen this fall, among other publications.
For that same reason, the company fixed lower price points for the new product. Beardsley said Le Feu Light has “more democratic pricing” that’s about 10 percent off that of Le Feu. In France, a 50-ml. eau de toilette spray will retail for about $43 and a 30-ml. rechargeable eau de toilette spray will go for about $35.
Meanwhile, in New York, Carole Nicolas, executive director of marketing for Beaute Prestige International USA, described Le Feu D’Issey Light as a “sparkling bubbly” version of the original fragrance that is aimed at a younger woman. As “the sparkling side of [the original Le Feu’s] fire,” she said, the new fragrance will be aimed primarily at women in their 20s, compared with the “mature” Le Feu customer who is in her 30s and up.
Maggie Ciafardini, general manager of the U.S. division, noted that the comparative prices reflect the differences in age targets. A 50-ml. eau de toilette of Le Feu retails for $60, compared with $44 for the same item in the new line.
Ciafardini said the new scent will be launched in about 200 doors, consisting of accounts like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Sephora. The distribution of the original scent also will be refocused in those doors so that the two components of the brand can be merchandised together. “We are going to refocus the whole brand,” she said.
The American launch, slated for the first week in October, will be backed with advertising in Vogue Teen in October and Elle in November and December, plus a million scented blow-in cards as billing inserts and catalog insertions.