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NEW YORK — While the quantity of fragrances set to launch this fall is daunting, most retailers aren’t even trying to stock them all. Instead, U.S. stores are focusing on finding synergies between apparel and fragrances brands — as is the case with Bloomingdale’s and the new Juicy Couture, Betsey Johnson and Donna Karan fragrances, as well as Nordstrom and Escada — and installing high-end perfumerie projects, such as Bendel’s association with Aftelier Perfumes. Celebrity fragrances — including those from Hilary Duff, Danielle Steel, Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker — will also continue in full force for fall.

“We can’t wait to launch the Juicy Couture fragrance,” said Howard Kreitzman, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics and fragrances for Bloomingdale’s. “This is by far the most exciting thing going on in the marketplace — and we have a three-month exclusive. We think that Juicy will be the biggest fragrance launch we’ve ever done.”

He’s also looking forward to launching two new designer fragrances — Betsey Johnson’s first scent and Donna Karan Gold, the noted designer’s latest offering. “We’ll be the launch store for Donna Karan Gold and we will have an exclusive at first with Betsey Johnson’s scent,” he said.

Kreitzman will also add Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb women’s fragrance and the duo’s new Antidote men’s fragrance to his assortment this fall. Other new offerings will include Calvin Klein’s Euphoria Men, Gaultier to the Power of Two, Hanae Mori, Burberry London for Men and Prada Amber Pour Homme, among others. “We think Prada for men, especially, will do great business,” he said. “We had a bit of a dry spell last year, because we don’t carry most celebrity fragrances. But this year, there’s so much out there — we’re not just looking at a sea of Hollywood fragrances.”

Macy’s East is staging 24 fragrance introductions this fall, with major hits expected from Vera Wang Princess, With Love Hilary Duff, Donna Karan Gold and Euphoria Men by Calvin Klein. Macy’s is having a strong fragrance season with single-digit comp-store gains, and Micheline Jordaan, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of fragrances at Macy’s East, said she is counting on that trend continuing right through holiday.

This story first appeared in the June 30, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

She pointed out that 75 percent of the volume during spring was generated by existing brands and only 25 percent by newness. Jordaan expanded upon that point by stressing that only the right combination of new entries and the proper handling of core brands “can deliver total growth for the season.”

Another factor for holiday is the ability to layer in the right mix of value sets, which are usually championed by existing brands, she noted.

Laurie Black, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for Nordstrom’s cosmetics division, said the chain will launch several exclusives, including Givenchy’s Ange Ou Démon in August and later in the month Kenzo’s new Amour fragrance, a worldwide exclusive. That will be followed by the first major introduction in 10 years from Hanae Mori, Magical Moon. Later in September, the new Matthew Williamson fragrance will be offered, followed in October by the worldwide launch of the Escada fashion fragrance, Sunset Heat.

“We believe that the fragrances we are launching will do well because they are staying limited in their distribution, focusing on the target Nordstrom fragrance customer,” continued Black. “Another key to success is our ability to partner — both promotionally and in-store presentation — with the fragrance brands that have key apparel labels within our stores, such as Matthew Williamson and Escada, to maximize the brand’s presence within Nordstrom.” She’s also bullish about fall prospects. “The fragrance business is trending very strong. There is nothing to indicate that this holiday will not be strong.”

“We’re looking at a pretty heavy introductory season,” said Jon Pollack, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for cosmetics and fragrances at Belk. “There are a lot of launches both in men’s and women’s and we’re looking for it to strongly impact our fall business and more strongly impact holiday.” He noted that launches seem to be happening later in the fall, citing October and later as an active time frame for introductions. “[Vendors] know it’s a market share battle and they’re attacking their business in that matter.”

Pollack noted that sales are trending well. “The business has been good,” he said, adding, “The women’s fragrance business has been good all season — we had a very good Mother’s Day. [And] men’s has come on strong in the second quarter.”

While Belk’s fall launch slate isn’t final, Pollack estimated as many as 20 scents would be launched this fall, about 12 of which will be for women. “If history is any judge, out of the 20 you’ll get four or five that’ll crack the top 10 in men’s and women’s,” he said.

Pollack is optimistic the fragrance category will continue to do well in the fall. “We are looking for high single-digit growth this fall in the entire category — men’s and women’s combined.” He noted that top-ranking brands like Estée Lauder’s Beautiful and Pleasures and Ralph Lauren’s Romance on the women’s side and Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Gio, Armani Code and Sean Jean’s Unforgivable on the men’s side are going strong. “The Armani franchise continues to do very well,” said Pollack, adding there’s been “continued strong business” out of Beautiful and Pleasures. “They’ve made good comebacks in the spring.” There’s “energy” behind those brands, like new products and advertising, he said.

One new entry, Lancôme’s Hypnôse, is “excellent. It’s exceeding expectations,” said Pollack. “We had an aggressive plan for it and it’s beating that.”

“We are optimistic about both fall and the Christmas season,” said Kate Oldham, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of cosmetics, accessories and fragrances at Saks Fifth Avenue.

She noted top brands include Jo Malone, Bond No. 9, Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb, Chanel, Creed and Cartier.

While the amount of fragrances on the retailer’s launch schedule has not yet been set in stone, Oldham is looking forward to a number of new scents, including the September entry Antidote — Viktor & Rolf’s masculine counterpart to Flowerbomb. “We are excited about all our launches,” said Oldham, “especially Lanvin Rumeur, a Saks exclusive, and John Varvatos Vintage.”

“I’m happy to see so many substantial launches,” said Shelley Rozenwald, senior vice president of cosmetics, skin care, fragrance and beauty services for Holt Renfrew. “It’s great that so many of them are for men, too. Prada for men is going to be huge for us, as will Viktor & Rolf’s Antidote, Burberry London for Men and John Varvatos Vintage.”

With so many launches, Rozenwald predicts that rather than the usual pattern of women buying fragrances for men, more men will begin buying their own. “With the power of the names of these launches, I think we will see an increase in the percentage of men buying fragrances for themselves,” she said. “They’re not going to wait to get it as a gift. They will have a wardrobe of scents like women’s.”

On the women’s side, Rozenwald is bullish on Donna Karan Gold and Sisley’s Soir de Lune. “I believe they will both do great business for us,” she said. “Donna’s fragrance packaging is so in sync with her fashion. And Sisley’s Soir de Lune is so beautiful.” She described the Sisley scent as “the epitome of luxury. Ten or 20 years from now, it will still be around. In an era of disposable scents, this is a keeper.”

“Our customers have responded extremely well to our spring assortment,” said Ed Burstell, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty, jewelry and accessories at Bergdorf Goodman. At Bergdorf’s, which traditionally has focused on exclusive and semiexclusive brands, top performers include Joel Rosenthal’s JAR brand, Jo Malone, Clive Christian, Creed, Guerlain, Acqua di Parma and L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Bergdorf’s has at least a dozen scents on the launch slate for July through November. In July, the retailer will launch Soir de Lune by Sisley. In August, Bergdorf’s will launch Badgley Mischka’s new scent and Prada’s men’s scent — both on an exclusive basis — as well as Insolence by Guerlain. Fall launches include Matthew Williamson, which will bow exclusively at Bergdorf’s in September, the same month the retailer will launch Gaultier to the Power of Two. October launches include Blue Agave and Cacao by Jo Malone, a new Creed scent and Quadrilobe by Guerlain, which will begin exclusively at Bergdorf’s. In November, Burstell is looking forward to fragrances from Tocca and Stella McCartney.

“This fall will be supported by in-store events, personal appearances [by] Jean Paul Gaultier [and] Matthew Williamson and the Bergdorf Goodman Magazine in September and December,” Burstell noted, adding that beauty inserts and the Bergdorf Goodman holiday gift book will also be part of the promotional push.

Claudia Lucas, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty at Henri Bendel, said she is excited about several offerings for the fall selling season. “We are working with Mandy Aftel, a perfumer in California who owns a fragrance company called Aftelier Perfumes,” said Lucas. “They’re exquisite, handmade natural perfumes that we think our customers will love. We’re also planning on taking L’Artisan Perfumeur’s new fragrance, and are working on events with that. It looks like an exciting fall.”

Sephora, which has continued to chalk up double-digit increases in its fragrance business, hopes to continue that momentum through fall and holiday, according to Betsy Olum, senior vice president of marketing.

“We take a very focused view,” said Olum. Among Sephora’s lengthy launch lineup, Olum seemed particularly excited by Guerlain’s Insolence, Givenchy’s Amarige Mariage, Vera Wang Princess, Versace Bright Crystal, Lulu Guinness Fairy Tales, Badgley Mischka, Donna Karan Gold, Stella In Two by Stella McCartney and With Love Hilary Duff — all on the women’s side. The big news in the unisex category will be Jean Paul Gaultier to the Power of Two. On the men’s side, Sephora will feature Euphoria Men by Calvin Klein, Amber Pour Homme by Prada, Burberry London for Men and then John Varvatos Vintage and Polo Double Black by Ralph Lauren.

In November, as the holiday run up gets under way, Sephora will feature Juicy Couture from Liz Claiborne, the Escada seasonal scent, Sunset Heat, and Euphoria Blossom by Calvin Klein. The chain will also make a big push with its perennial Sephora Fragrance Sampler in early December.

Julie Naughton, Matthew W. Evans and Pete Born

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