Kiton Black

Fragrance has long been known as an entry point to a luxury brand for consumers, but lately fashion firms have used scent to freshen up from an image standpoint.

NEW YORK — Fragrance has long been known as an entry point to a luxury brand for consumers, but lately fashion firms have used scent to freshen up from an image standpoint.

During fashion week here, the first Bill Blass scent to be launched in seven years will make its debut. Then, in March, Neapolitan men’s wear house Kiton will introduce a masculine fragrance called Kiton Black, in conjunction with licensee Estée Lauder Cos.

“With 250 launches a year, I’m not sure [the flood of new scents] adds to the interest; it adds to the confusion,” said Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, who became president of the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of Lauder Jan. 1. “But, improving, evolving and supporting classics is important. We should never lose track of what’s solid in the marketplace and the portfolio.

“It’s time to talk about it again and highlight it again,” she said of the Kiton business. She called Kiton Black a “couture version” of the original Kiton scent, which was introduced in 1996. The signature scent could be thought of as the red fragrance, with its bold, red packaging motif. Other Kiton launches include scents called Donna and Napoli, which were both 1998 entries.

Kiton Black is a blend of fruit, flowers and leather that Lauder and Kiton created along with fragrance supplier Symrise. It will be introduced at Kiton’s store on East 54th Street in New York and at close to 30 Bloomingdale’s stores, where it will be carried exclusively for at least 90 days.

“It’s selective and we’re going to keep it that way,” said Gabai-Pinsky, noting that the original scent is carried in some 120 doors including Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

Kiton Black, whose black packaging features a red dot emblematic of the clothing brand and a Kiton label, is tied to the 39-year-old fashion house’s more upscale apparel line of the same name. Kiton suits typically range in price from $6,000 up to $30,000.

While violet and bergamot olfactory accords are common to both Kiton scents, “We reworked violet from the original [by combining it] with a more modern rose ingredient,” noted Trudi Loren, vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for Lauder. “There’s more emphasis on the bergamot on top. Leather is an addition.”

This story first appeared in the January 26, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Kiton Black blends opening notes of Italian bergamot, Calabrian lemon and red berries with a heart of violet, cardamom and cedarwood and a base of leather, vetiver, amber and tonka bean.

The scent will be available in 75-ml. and 125-ml. eaux de toilette priced at $65 and $85, respectively. A 125-ml. aftershave splash, for $65, will accompany the scent. Industry sources estimate the fragrance could garner $500,000 in first-year retail sales.

A promotional strategy for Kiton Black will be based largely on sampling, according to Lauder executives, with various sizes, including vials on cards and boxes of the scent paired with cuff links.

In terms of global distribution, “We’re following Kiton’s [fashion] presence,” said Gabai-Pinsky. “It’s not to be treated as a high-volume brand.”

Kiton’s biggest fragrance markets are Italy, Germany, the U.S., South Africa and the Benelux countries. The fashion is carried in 10 Kiton boutiques in urban markets like Milan, Paris, New York, Monaco, Cologne and Düsseldorf, Moscow and Tokyo. Kiton plans to open two more boutiques this year, in London and Hamburg, Germany.

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