LONDON — Burberry has London all wrapped up.
The brand, which launched the phenomenally successful Burberry Brit fragrance in 2003, will introduce Burberry London, a women’s scent, starting next month with its licensee, Inter Parfums SA.
The new fragrance, which features a bottle swathed in Burberry’s signature plaid fabric, will be fronted by Rachel Weisz, who earlier this month picked up a best supporting actress Golden Globe award for her role in “The Constant Gardener.”
Burberry London is the first new fragrance franchise to be created under Inter Parfums’ Burberry Fragrances division, which was formed last year and is headed by Marcella Cacci.
“When we started to work on the concept, we wanted to embody the city of London and celebrate the city of London,” said Cacci at the scent’s preview, held on a fittingly gray and rainy morning in the British capital.
If the scent’s ode to London is as successful as Brit, which embodied the spirit of renewal at the storied fashion house, the brand could be on to another winner.
“I think we can repeat the performance [of Burberry Brit],” said Philippe Benacin, president of Paris-based Inter Parfums SA.
According to industry sources, that could see the new scent generating retail sales in the region of $100 million in its first year.
Burberry’s fragrance business overall has been on a skyward trajectory in recent years, clocking up retail sales of about 400 million euros, or $491 million at current exchange, in 2005. Benacin forecast that figure could rise to between 600 million euros, or $737 million, and 650 million euros, or $798 million, by 2008.
Boosting that growth will be the new fragrance, which is due to be joined by a male counterpart in the fall as the second half of a master brand. Both the women’s and men’s together could generate $140 million at retail, according to estimates, meaning that the new London master brand could account for 27 percent of Burberry’s fragrance business.
Cacci noted that the new arrival was created to mirror the brand’s Burberry London apparel line, a more youthful and commercial collection. Unlike Prorsum, the line is not shown on the Milan runways.
“It’s classic and modern with a spirit of elegance and glamour,” she explained, adding the client for the Burberry London fragrance is likely to be a little older than the typical Burberry Brit wearer.
“If Brit was the ‘It’ girl, this one will draw a more sophisticated customer,” said Donald J. Loftus, president and chief executive officer of P&G Prestige Products Inc. In the U.S., P&G is the fragrance distributor for Burberry and Inter Parfum. He added that the London label is at the core of the Burberry fashion business. By clothing the bottle in plaid fabric, the intention was to refer to the company’s roots in textiles.
“It stands for a modern but classic British attitude,” agreed Burberry creative director, Christopher Bailey, of the Burberry London line. “We really start every project in the same way. We go down to the DNA and the true values of the Burberry brand as it has an incredible history and culture.”
The latest addition to the label’s portfolio is meant to epitomize the Burberry London style in a fragrance.
“When we developed the idea for a fragrance, we wanted it to be in sync with the clothes, bags and the whole attitude around the collection,” said Bailey.
To underscore the product’s link to apparel, Fabien Baron and Bailey came up with a rectangular heavy glass bottle that is covered with a swatch of Burberry check. In addition, the scent’s outer packaging features the check pattern as well as a fabric label, like those found on Burberry London apparel. “It’s like having a piece of the brand,” said Nicholas Munafo, executive vice president of sales and marketing at P&G in New York.
“Fashion and fragrance are separate worlds, but are really one world,” said Cacci. “Linking the collection with fragrance was our way of merging those two worlds.”
To wit, Burberry London’s advertising campaign is a stroll through that universe. Shot by Mario Testino, it features a collage of black-and-white photographs featuring Weisz in various London locations. She’s pictured walking by the Thames with British actor Ioan Gruffudd, for example, and buying flowers. The ads also feature snaps of London’s Big Ben, a palace guardsman and the London Eye Ferris wheel, with handwritten notes and a shot of the Burberry London bottle in color.
“We wanted it to feel like someone’s scrapbook,” said Cacci. “We created a little love story.”
Weisz, who has starred in films including “The Constant Gardener,” “The Mummy,” “About a Boy” and “Stealing Beauty,” was chosen not only for her stunning good looks, but also for her approachability, said Bailey.
Weisz also appeared at a reception for U.S. beauty editors earlier this week.
“She embodies the spirit of the London woman,” said Cacci. “She’s a real British beauty.”
Industry sources estimate Burberry Fragrances will spend more than $25 million promoting and advertising both the new women’s and coming men’s scents. The campaign will include single-, double- and triple-page ads, breaking at the launch and supported by a sampling drive, featuring vials and miniatures. A TV campaign also is planned for the fourth quarter.
Burberry London’s juice, concocted by Dominique Ropion of International Flavors & Fragrances, is an elegant floral. It features top notes of rose, clementine and honeysuckle. Heart notes include tiare flower, peony and jasmine, while base notes are sandalwood, veil of musk and patchouli.
The eau de parfum will be available as 30-, 50- and 100-ml. sprays priced at 26 pounds, or $32; 37 pounds, or $45, and 52 pounds, or $64, respectively, in the U.K. In the U.S., the 50-ml. size will retail for $56 and the 100-ml. version will be priced at $76.
The line also includes Delicately Floral Shower Gel and Delicately Floral Body Lotion. Both products feature natural ingredients, such as royal jelly, English rose and tea extracts. Packaged in 150-ml. bottles, they will be priced at 22 pounds, or $27, and 24 pounds, or $29.50, respectively.
The new women’s scent will bow in the U.K. and U.S. next month. The British launch will consist of an exclusive at Selfridge’s. In the U.S., the first wave of distribution will include the 31 Burberry boutiques, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus for an initial total of 350 doors. The second round, focusing on department stores, will hit April 1. Munafo said the total distribution will add up to 1,250 doors by the end of the spring.
Plans are in the works, he added, to stage an in-store appearance by Weisz sometime during the spring season. P&G does not break out sales projections, but according to industry sources, P&G is shooting for $35 million in retail sales, or a top-five ranking, for the women’s scent this year in the U.S.
During an earlier interview in New York with Loftus and Munafo, Cacci pointed out that London answers an olfactory need. “We didn’t have a big floral in the line,” she said.