FASHIONING ANOTHER FABERGE JEWEL
Byline: Pete Born
NEW YORK — Faberge, once synonymous with down-market men’s cologne, reincarnated itself in 1997 as a super-luxury brand by marketing crystal eggs priced at $3,000 each.
This week, David Horner, president of the fledgling Faberge Fragrances and architect of the revival effort, issued his latest installment, a new $1,500 Princess Grace Millennium Celebration Egg with a matching 1-oz. crystal perfume tucked inside. Appropriately, it was unveiled at the Princess Grace Foundation awards dinner Monday night in Manhattan. There also is a Faberge Parfum Imperial Celebration Egg.
Each costs $1,500 and 500 copies of each have been made. This is the third generation of eggs, which were inspired by the bejeweled turn of the century czarist handiwork of Peter Carl Faberge. The first Faberge eggs were followed by Princess Grace eggs, produced under license with the foundation and priced at $5,000 each.
The eggs are marketed primarily at Neiman Marcus and its Web site, Saks Fifth Avenue and, most recently, Harrods in London. The distribution amounts to roughly 80 doors. Horner also is looking into expanding foreign distribution through talks with Ulta Cosmetics in the Netherlands.
Industry sources estimate that the eggs and related merchandise do in excess of $3 million at retail.
Horner had conceived of the egg project as a way of restoring the luxury sheen to a very old brand that had wandered into the American mass market. Now, he is into a new vein, exploring the possibility of creating home fragrance products, which could provide a lucrative and trendy facet for the Faberge brand.
To this end, Pamela Friedman, who formerly was with Felissimo, Crabtree & Evelyn and Victoria’s Secret, has been hired as a consultant to work with Horner and his partner Mark Crames, who is president and chief executive officer of the Northern Group. Horner is president of the Niche Marketing Division.
The Faberge beauty business is licensed from Unilever, which owns the name and all the rights. And the partners have not stopped with nouveau artifacts. They have become the U.S. distributor for fragrances marketed by Desanyo of Madrid under the name of Spanish designer Roberto Verino. Called Verino and Verino Pour Homme, they were introduced in Bergdorf Goodman and in the Saks catalog in September.
Believing that “there are brands out there that are right only for Neiman’s and Saks,” Horner and Crames are looking to acquire other small businesses that would thrive in a nonpromotional specialty store setting. “We want to achieve an appropriate critical mass with luxury brands in specialty stores,” Horner said.
The Northern Group also distributes the Naomi Campbell fragrance line in department stores. Horner’s strategy is put together a band of brands. “We are looking for brands,” he said, “to enable us to engage in guerrilla warfare.”