View Slideshow

NEW YORK — Kenneth Cole is back to making scents.

This story first appeared in the January 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Barely seven months after Cole’s license was sold by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to the Lancaster Group, Coty’s prestige beauty arm, Lancaster is making plans for an April launch of Black — Kenneth Cole for Her. The men’s version of Black — on which Cole had worked with his former license holder, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, to develop along with perfumers at Firmenich — was launched in September by Lancaster and was mentioned by a number of major retailers as a top seller over the holidays.

“The first fragrance took 18 months to develop, but this one was done in a month,” noted Cole, during an interview at his West Side offices this week. “Lancaster is exceptionally good at moving quickly to meet the needs of consumers.”

Meeting the needs of consumers — perhaps in more than one class of trade — is something that Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of cosmetics and American licenses for Lancaster Group US and Coty SA, plans to maximize moving forward.

“We have big plans for Kenneth’s brand,” Walsh said. “We felt the relationship was perfect because Kenneth’s fashion house has multiple pillars, which gives us multiple opportunities in many channels of distribution.”

Cole’s fashion brands include the Kenneth Cole signature line, targeted at an urban, sophisticated consumer; Kenneth Cole Reaction, which Cole describes as “a little more casual, but still urban,” and Unlisted, a line which he calls “a little more junior” that is “even further distributed.” Walsh hinted at the possibility of one day launching fragrance brands for each of the three lines.

For now, however, Walsh and her team are focused on Black’s female side. The women’s juice, by Amandine Marie of Robertet, has top notes of white hyacinth, citrus and black violet; middle notes of magnolia, tuberose and lotus flower, and a drydown of orris, sandalwood, sweet amber and musk.

Cole and his in-house team designed the bottles and cartons for the collection — round bottles of smoked black glass, topped with a transparent round Lucite cap. The white label with the fragrance’s name bears the logo Kenneth Cole Black for Her, in the designer’s handwriting. Outer cartons are of high-gloss black with the Kenneth Cole signature on a white square.

The collection includes eaux de parfum in two sizes, 1.7 oz. for $49 and 3.4 oz. for $65. One ancillary will be available at launch, a 6.7-oz. body lotion that will retail for $32. More ancillaries will likely bow this fall, noted Carlos Timiraos, vice president of marketing for the Kenneth Cole beauty license at Coty Beauty U.S.

The three initial stockkeeping units will be available in 2,200 U.S. department and specialty store doors in April, as well as in the U.K., Australia and travel-retail doors. Executives declined to discuss projected first-year sales or advertising projections, but industry sources estimated that the women’s juice could ring up $30 million at retail in its first year at counter in the U.S. and that at least $5 million would be spent on advertising and promotion.

Advertising, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring models Brigitte Swidrak and Josh Wald, will include double-page spreads and single pages, with a sultry Swidrak wrapped around Wald. Wald is also featured in the advertising for the men’s version of Black, and after the initial advertising blitz, Lancaster plans to run ads for both the men’s and the women’s in the same books in order to promote both scents, said Timiraos.

The women’s advertising will debut in May fashion, beauty and lifestyle books, he said, and scent sampling will also be a big focus. “We expect more than 50 million scented impressions between men’s and women’s, with at least 2 million vials on cards,” he added.

Lancaster is also making plans to launch a promotional color item, black mascara, to “animate the brand this fall,” said Timiraos. He was, however, quick to point out that “this isn’t our way of tiptoeing into color.”

But is color in the plans for the future? Walsh is somewhat cagey on the subject. “We’ve talked about doing color,” she said. “It would be a nice thing to do one day. But right now, we’re focused on the launch of Black for Her.”

Cole is confident of the success of his women’s scent.

“It passed the true test — both my wife and my daughter love it,” he said with a chuckle.