NEW YORK — It’s been just shy of a year since Gwyneth Paltrow inked her beauty deal with Estée Lauder, and the brand’s executive team can’t be accused of squandering its time with the Academy Award-winning actress. After freshening up Lauder’s classic Pleasures scent with an ad blitz last year, Paltrow will be seen next month in a campaign promoting another of the brand’s iconic fragrance franchises: Pure White Linen, a sister to White Linen.
Paltrow first signed with the Lauder brand in May. Her first project was a fresh advertising campaign for Lauder’s classic scent, Pleasures; others after Pure White Linen are planned, although both Paltrow and Lauder representatives declined to be specific.
“I was too young for White Linen in its heyday, but I do remember seeing the ads, and they were so beautiful,” said Paltrow during an exclusive phone interview. “I’ve enjoyed doing the two different campaigns; they’re very different in tone, and I think they represent the two sides of me. Pure White Linen is less about being at the beach with my daughter — it’s a more luxurious fragrance. I’ve become pretty casual lately, but when I get dressed up, this is what I put on.”
Pure White Linen is a fruity floral that plays on the notes of the original, said Karyn Khoury, senior vice president of fragrance development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos., who worked with Evelyn Lauder, senior corporate vice president and head of fragrance development worldwide of the Estée Lauder Cos., to develop the fragrance.
“White Linen has been a classic for a generation,” said Lauder. “Now, it’s time for a new generational approach to this magnificent scent.”
Pure White Linen shares key elements with the original, which launched in 1978 — including aldehydes, rose and crisp green notes — but adds a hint of fruit, Khoury noted. Developed in cooperation with International Flavors & Fragrances, Pure White Linen opens with grapefruit, Italian mandarin, iced rose tea, raspberry, pear and apple notes; has a heart of red tulip, rose, wild honeysuckle, gardenia petals, jasmine and tuberose, and dries down to notes of white cedarwood, patchouli and white heliotrope. Eaux de parfum in three sizes — 1 oz. for $35, 1.7 oz. for $45 and 3.4 oz. for $65 — will be offered beginning in April, with two ancillaries, a 6.7-oz. body wash for $27.50 and a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $36, coming in July.
Paltrow hasn’t always been a major fragrance wearer herself — “When I was 15, I was obsessed with Calyx by Prescriptives, but then I didn’t wear fragrance for a while,” she said — but noted that both of her parents’ signature scents can take her back to her childhood in a flash. “When I was growing up, my mother always wore Quadrille by Balenciaga, and my father always wore Caleche by Hermès. We moved around a lot — one or both of my parents were always on location [her late father, Bruce Paltrow, was a well-known director, and her mother is the actress Blythe Danner] and I would smell one of their scents — and that was home to me. Their smell.”
Paltrow, who is married to Coldplay’s Chris Martin, will give birth to the couple’s second child later this spring (she declined to specify her due date). Their first, Apple Blythe Alison Martin — named for her grandmothers, Danner and Alison Martin — will turn two on May 14.
“I was such a maniac in my 20s — getting up to do yoga at 4 a.m., working 12 to 15 hours a day, going out for dinner with friends and then having another meeting after that,” said Paltrow. “I’m definitely not living the life I used to live — premieres and flying all over the place for work. My life has slowed down a lot. Now I wake up at 7:30, when Apple does. It’s a different life, but I believe it requires a lot of presence to be a good parent.”
Paltrow isn’t giving up films forevermore, but she’s picking and choosing carefully. “I have a couple of scenes in ‘Running With Scissors’ and a cameo in ‘Infamous,’ [both of which will be out later this year]. And my brother, Jake Paltrow, wrote and directed a dark comedy called ‘The Good Night’ [also starring Penélope Cruz], which will be out later this year. That was 12 days of work, and I took Apple with me. And I’ve got other things in production. But I’m not at the serious pace I once was.”
In fact, Paltrow is somewhat of a Hollywood rarity when it comes to her kids — she and Martin don’t employ a nanny. “I’m doing this interview now while Apple’s at her ballet class — her father took her to class today. And I get a lot done when Apple is napping. I am predominantly a wife and mother — and a face of Estée Lauder. That’s all I can handle right now.”
And don’t expect to see a Gwyneth Paltrow scent anytime soon. “I’m very happy at Estée Lauder,” she said. “I like representing the brand, and I like the people. I feel a lot more comfortable representing something classic, making it new again, as opposed to a Gwyneth Paltrow fragrance. I like that one degree of separation [that she has with Lauder]. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a Gwyneth fragrance.”
Speaking of the beauty industry, Paltrow noted that her eight-plus months in the field have been “a real education.”
“It’s a fascinating industry,” she said, praising founder Estée Lauder as a “talented self-made woman with a great American story.” She also praised Aerin Lauder’s creative efforts: “When she took over, it all started to look so good and a cut above everyone else’s. I thought this would be a nice match — I have a great deal of respect for the company and the Lauder family. But I had no idea how much revenue the field generates, or the percentage of women’s income that is spent on beauty products. It’s been really eye-opening.”
Speaking of spending, while Lauder executives declined to discuss sales projections or advertising spending, industry sources estimated that Pure White Linen would do about $17 million at retail in its first year on counter and that about $5 million would be spent on advertising and promotion. National print advertising, shot by Mario Testino and featuring Paltrow, will break in July fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, noted Marjorie Lau, vice president of marketing, North America, for Estée Lauder. The brand plans TV advertising later this year, added Thia Breen, the brand’s North American president.
“We wanted to create a fragrance that reflected what casualness and luxury mean today,” said Aerin Lauder, senior vice president of global creative directions for Estée Lauder, noting that the original was one of her grandmother’s — company founder Estée Lauder — favorite scents. That feeling is carried through to the advertising: Print ads feature Paltrow in a chic Balenciaga white linen shift.