Neil J. Katz

NEW YORK — Neil J. Katz, former president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics, has re-emerged brandishing a beauty license from Tommy Bahama and plans for a fragrance line positioned on the image of the high-priced tropical resort apparel...

NEW YORK — Neil J. Katz, former president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics, has re-emerged brandishing a beauty license from Tommy Bahama and plans for a fragrance line positioned on the image of the high-priced tropical resort apparel brand.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The eponymous fragrance line will be a masterbrand, featuring both men’s and women’s scents, since the fashion business comprises roughly 70 percent men’s wear and 30 percent women’s wear. The launch is being planned for next spring, Katz said, adding that distribution will echo that of the apparel business of fashion department, specialty and freestanding Tommy Bahama stores, of which the company now has more than 40.

The Bahama fragrances will be the first undertaking of Katz’s new company, Gemini Cosmetics Inc., which he formed in a partnership with Robert Rumsby, former vice president of operations and manufacturing at Liz Claiborne Cosmetics. Katz is president and chief executive officer of Gemini and Rumsby is executive vice president and chief operating officer. Gemini will be looking for additional projects in the future, but Katz stressed that for the next year the company will be concentrating on the Bahama project exclusively. Any future projects, he added, will be completely different imagery and will not overlap with Bahama’s luxury tropical positioning.

In a statement, Tony Margolis, president and ceo of Tommy Bahama, said, “We are very excited to work with Gemini to produce the fragrance that the Tommy Bahama icon would wear. Every woman in America wants to know what that guy smells like and we’re going to show them. Our women’s fragrance will be equally alluring from his point of view.”

Katz described the target customer as over 35 years old, sophisticated and having enough money to afford what Katz described as relaxed luxuries, “not suit-and-tie luxuries.” He noted that Tommy Bahama pioneered the concept of selling silk trousers, as well as shirts, to men. The fragrance price points and distribution will match that elegant niche.

Bahama was founded in 1992 and has a volume approaching $500 million, Katz noted. The apparel company is a division of Viewpoint International, a subsidiary of Oxford Industries Inc.

Gemini will open an office in Carnegie Hall Towers, 152 West 57th Street, by Oct. 1, Katz said, adding that he expects to show the Bahama fragrances this fall. The Tommy Bahama fragrance line will consist of women’s eau de parfums as well as men’s colognes and ancillary products.

Katz has been consulting since November 2002, when he left Liz Claiborne after spending 12 years building the apparel company’s fragrance division into a more than $200 million business. Katz had fashioned an approach that married a savvy instinct for consumer research with a well targeted promotional attack designed to attract young customers in particular. That effort resulted in the launch of one fragrance masterbrand after another, right up until the launch of Bora Bora in fall 2002. Rumsby is credited with establishing Claiborne’s fragrance manufacturing and distribution system over the past 16 years. — Pete Born

Chanel, Seventeen Contest

NEW YORK — Chanel and Seventeen Magazine have forged a partnership through their Colour of the Year Contest, and Chanel executives are confident that reaching out to the younger segment is beneficial to business.

The contest, which is unbeknownst to the average Chanel customer, has been held for the past seven years. About 2,000 Seventeen readers submit ideas for the newest Nail Colour and Glossimer Lip Gloss shade.

This year’s winner is 17-year-old Gabrielle Miller, who won $1,000, a free trip to New York, and a Chanel makeover. She chose the name Cry Baby to depict the color she created by mixing lip glosses from her mom’s Tucson, Ariz. makeup store.

Why Seventeen Magazine? Chanel executives see the partnership as a way to connect with one of their target markets. According to Annette Falso, vice president of new product marketing and training at Chanel, Cry Baby is “vibrant and salable.” The specific products that were created in the winning color were chosen for their teen appeal. “Nail color and lip color are such young [products],” Falso said.

And Gabrielle likes the view from the top. At a press conference held in her behalf at Bloomingdale’s, she mentioned she is developing her own teen cosmetic line and is in negotiations with QVC about selling it. — Allison Altmann