NEW YORK — Two years after designer Vera Wang tied the knot with her first fragrance, she’s now working the other side of the aisle.

This story first appeared in the November 7, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Vera Wang for Men, the counterpart to the very successful women’s scent she launched in 2002, will bow in January.

“If there was ever a day that was for both men and women, it is their wedding day,” said the designer in an exclusive interview with WWD. “I wanted to continue the intimacy that we started with our first fragrance.”

In fact, Wang pointed out, the brand was so committed to expressing its advertising message in a consistent way that the team shot the men’s advertising when the women’s campaign was shot two years ago. Photographer Paolo Roversi shot both campaigns in Paris with models Vivien Solari and Jason Elliott.

The former Vogue fashion editor has kept very busy in the two-year interval since her first fragrance was launched. In that time, she released a book, “Vera Wang on Weddings”; launched licensed china, crystal, silver, footwear, eyewear and fine jewelry collections, and helped to develop the new men’s fragrance — all in addition to designing bridal, ready-to-wear and eveningwear lines and dressing countless celebrities.

However, Wang emphasized, she and Chet Hazzard, president and chief operating officer of Vera Wang, have been very closely involved in each venture.

“Dress by dress, we’ve built up a trust with our customers, and it’s extremely important to us to maintain that trust,” said Wang. “We don’t throw the name around, and we don’t do anything unless we’re really ready.”

And men’s fragrance is an item whose time has come, said Hazzard. “Fragrance is a great way to communicate with our consumer,” he added. “Men have every bit as much to do with a wedding day as a woman does. Men’s fragrance is a crowded field, but we’re working hard to make sure that our fragrances — both the new men’s scent and our original women’s one —?become classics.”

The scents allow the pair to reach more consumers than the house’s high-end wedding dresses, Hazzard pointed out. “People want the aesthetic, but not everyone can afford the dresses,” he said. “The fragrance has an accessible price point that gets our message out to a very wide consumer base.”

And it’s a consumer base that Kevin Boyce, president and chief executive officer of Unilever Cosmetics International, is confident of capturing: “We’re entering this market in a very confident manner, especially since Vera’s first fragrance was such a winner,” he said.

The new juice, by International Flavors and Fragrances, is an aromatic oriental, and like its mate, the names of its accords are inspired by love. Top notes, or “The Attraction,” are of green mandarin leaf and crisp yuzu; middle notes, or “The Seduction,” are of nutmeg, vintage leather and anise, and the base notes, or “The Commitment,” are of sandalwood and tobacco. “None of this unisex stuff,” said Wang with a laugh, admitting that she tested the juice on her husband. “This is a very masculine scent.”

The bottle is a weighty glass decanter with a platinum-hued collar and a wood-grained cap, and outer packaging is white with a dark brown interior.

The collection includes eau de toilettes in 1.7-oz. and 3.4-oz. sizes, $45 and $65, respectively; a 6.7-oz. aftershave balm, $45; a 6.7-oz. hair and body wash, $30, and a 2.6-oz. deodorant, $18.50.

Despite the recent exit of Laura Lee Miller, the former president of Unilever Prestige who is widely credited as being a key factor in the success of the first juice, Boyce insisted that the company is committed to both Vera Wang and to the new fragrance. As reported, in a reorganization announced in October, Boyce now oversees the Vera Wang beauty brand as well as the Calvin Klein, Nautica, Chloé, Cerruti, Karl Lagerfeld and BCBG beauty brands for Unilever with the help of Laura Klauberg, the recently appointed senior vice president of global marketing for Unilever Cosmetics International.

“Everyone here loves working with Vera and her team,” said Boyce. “We overachieved on numbers with the first fragrance, and we aim to do the same with the new fragrance.”

“We appreciate the partnership that we’ve enjoyed with Unilever Prestige over the last several years,” added Hazzard. “We’re looking forward to working with the team to get the newest fragrance launched.”

Distribution will mirror that of the women’s juice. Like the women’s fragrance, the men’s scent will launch first at Saks Fifth Avenue in January — although the chain will have the juice exclusively for less than a month (the women’s juice had a three-month exclusive with Saks). Vera Wang for Men enters another 225 specialty stores in February, and by May it will be in an estimated 768 department and specialty store doors.

Although none of the executives would talk numbers, industry sources estimated that the new fragrance will do upward of $10 million at retail in the U.S. in its first year on counter. The women’s scent is estimated to do about $32 million in the U.S. in 2004. About $18 million will be spent on advertising and promotion for both the men’s and women’s scents in 2004, according to estimates by industry sources.

Print advertising is slated for men’s and dual-interest lifestyle magazines, beginning in February, with the ads promoting the masterbrand. Both juices will be sampled on the advertising and in-store, with more than 30 million scented impressions planned.

Deluxe samples and vials on card will be distributed in-store, and packette samples of the men’s juice will be packaged with the women’s scent — in a move that the team hopes will broaden its potential reach. “A large number of women buy fragrances for their men first, which is how many users get introduced to them,” explained Hazzard. The target user for the new fragrance, like the women’s, is a 25- to 40-year-old.

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