Skip to main content

Ralph Lauren’s New ‘Woman’: Jessica Chastain

The actress is the second celebrity face of any women's fragrance put forth by the brand.

Ralph Lauren, already a major player in the men’s fragrance space, wants to make it big in the women’s category. And he’s enlisted a major American actress to help him: Jessica Chastain.

The actress will be the face of the designer’s latest eau de parfum with licensee L’Oréal, Woman by Ralph Lauren. It will be only the second time ever a celebrity has fronted one of Lauren’s women’s fragrances.

Woman is the first women’s franchise the brand has launched in nearly a decade, following the now discontinued Notorious pillar that was released in 2008. The last big hit the designer had in the women’s category was almost 20 years ago with Romance, which bowed in 1998 and is still ranked as the 14th best-selling female fragrance in the U.S.

“Fragrance is the most personal expression of a woman’s beauty and my new fragrance…has a masculine note with a feminine sensuality that plays to the duality of my modern woman….I have always been attracted to the woman with her hair blowing in the wind, a natural beauty who will walk into a glamorous black tie event wearing a man’s tuxedo,” Ralph Lauren told WWD.

Related Galleries

To mirror Lauren’s affinity for feminine apparel with men’s wear sensibilities, the tuberose driven scent is packaged in a bottle that’s shaped as a flask. Except it’s a flask with rose gold detailing and an oval shape to convey the duality the designer speaks of.

“She’s not afraid to be vulnerable but has an inner strength that is serene and quiet, yet powerful in its integrity,” Lauren continued.

Which is exactly why Chastain was selected as the face of the scent.

As an outspoken campaigner for gender equality in Hollywood — Chastain said the “representation of female characters on film” was “disturbing” during the Cannes Film Festival in May — the actress comes across as an advocate and fighter. It’s these qualities that made her a good fit to front Woman, which is being marketed on those characteristics, according to Guillaume de Lesquen, president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances Worldwide at L’Oréal.

“We’re living in a time where femininity and masculinity are being redefined. It used to be that feminine meant only to be soft and kind, but now we understand that being feminine also can mean being successful and being ambitious and being intelligent in addition to kind and compassionate. Femininity is whatever a person defines for themselves. It’s moved away from this old-fashioned notion of what a woman is, ” Chastain told WWD.

The actress maintained that with anything she approaches in life — whether acting or raising awareness for women’s equality in Hollywood — she tries to defy stereotypes. For Chastain, society runs a big danger when it only sees one type of woman on-screen, and because of this, she selects films with diverse female roles.

For instance, in “Miss Sloane,” she played a gun lobbyist, in “The Martian” a space commander and in “Interstellar” a theoretical physicist.

“What I’m drawn to is characters that buck the expectation of what women must do or must be in their lives,” Chastain said in an exclusive interview.

A corresponding tag line and social media hashtag, “Woman Above All” or #WomanAboveAll, is integral to the fragrance launch and communication strategy, according to Gino Luci, U.S. vice president of marketing of Ralph Lauren Fragrances. And having a tag line to express the meaning of what female power is today, especially in light of the current sociocultural environment and recent political goings-ons, will hopefully fuel a conversation among women.

“We have a story to tell that is relevant and meaningful in American culture; “Woman Above All” will help build a community through social media that celebrates what it means to be a woman today,” Luci said.

He maintained that the tease campaign online, followed by the kick off of today’s digital launch with the reveal of Chastain, is the brand’s largest digital investment to date. Print ads will drop in September books and TV ads roll out in September.

L’Oréal projected that Woman will crack the global top 10 ranking, making it the most successful of the designer’s feminine scents. An industry source puts U.S. and travel retail sales estimates through the end of the year at $50 million, with a global projection of $160 million in sales for 2018. There is potential for Woman’s volume to be about three times that of Romance, which does about 60 million euros globally in sales.

And L’Oréal isn’t skimping on costs to meet these goals. The company has unleashed an arsenal of marketing and advertising to support and promote Woman, starting with a digital and social media push that kicked off earlier this month. De Lesquen declined to comment on marketing spend but confirmed it’s the brand’s biggest effort yet.

“It’s a totally new approach to fragrance for Mr. Lauren and for us. It’s a very strong iconic expression for who he is and what makes him unique in fashion with his men’s wear sensibility…[but] brought to fragrance. Obviously it’s a strong statement, it’s [about] triumphant femininity and a strong cultural message,” de Lesquen said.

The lineup includes a 100 ml. eau de parfum, priced at $110; a 50 ml. size for $84; a 30 ml. version for $64, and body cream, shower gel and body lotion that retail for $70, $48 and $48, respectively. The scent is available at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Sephora and Lord & Taylor, and by fall 2018, Woman will have a global distribution of 20,000 doors.

In an attempt to appeal to a more sophisticated customer, Woman is priced about 20 percent higher than Romance. De Lesquen noted that the eau de parfum targets a demographic of women ages 35 and up, who make up the biggest portion of fragrance users and buyers.