Everything's Coming Up Fragrance

November 15, 2005

Fine fragrance is blooming with new ideas this spring.

It was a blue Christmas in the fine fragrance category, but marketers aren’t worried: spring 2004 promises to pick up the slack with a burst of new releases.

Limited-edition scents are also expected to dispel the lethargy of winter months with fresh, bright fragrances that evoke the liveliness of spring.

Prestige fragrance sales fell 2% to $2.8 billion in 2003, according to NPD Beauty, the beauty-tracking division of The NPD Group, Port Washington, NY.

A disappointing holiday season was largely to blame, executives said. December sales alone account for more than 30% of total annual fragrance sales, and “the December 2003 holiday season did not live up to expectations,” said Dora Radwick of NPD.

Another factor was the underperformance of men’s fine fragrances, which many marketers had been relying on to add some sparkle to the holiday season. Men’s fragrance sales, which were kicked up a notch in previous years, seemed to fall flat during December 2003, experiencing a 4% decline for the month.

In addition, “Annual sales of men’s fragrances did not help boost total fragrance sales, as the men’s category experienced moderate declines in both dollars and units,” Ms. Radwick said. “The struggle men’s fragrances faced in 2003 was largely the result of 2002’s new launch activity, which introduced men to a plethora of new fragrances (such as) Polo Blue and Armani Mania, and 2003 could not compete.”

New men’s fragrances generated 18% of total sales in 2002, whereas 2003 men’s launches contributed only 8% to total sales, Ms. Radwick reported.

The women’s sector didn’t fare much better, according to NPD Beauty, but “New launch activity, such as Beyond Paradise, Still, Sensi and Ralph Lauren Blue, among others, significantly helped offset further total fragrance declines,” Ms. Radwick pointed out.

Luckily for the fine fragrance industry, hope does indeed spring eternal. And with fragrance arguably the most trend-setting sector in high fashion, well-known names and even a few new ones are in on the action this year.

Pulling it All Together: Perfumers Meet and Greet in 2004
Where do fragrance executives go for inspiration and communication? If they’re lucky, they go to both sides of the Atlantic. Two renowned fragrance organizations, the World Perfumery Congress and the American Society of Perfumers, provide venues this spring for fragrance professionals to gain industry insights, as well as honor those who have made their mark in the industry.

The Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan is the site of the 50th annual Perfumer Symposium of the American Society of Perfumers (ASP), April 29. Registration begins at 1:30p.m.; the program runs from 2:30-5:00p.m., followed by a lavish cocktail reception, executives said. During the symposium, fragrance creator Ann Gottlieb will be honored with the Living Legend award. The society will also honor Carlos Benaim, vice president and senior perfumer, IFF, with the lifetime achievement award.

Meanwhile, fragrance professionals are making their reservations for the World Perfumery Congress, to take place June 1-5 in Cannes, France. Opening ceremonies take place the evening of June 1; speeches and conferences follow on subsequent days.

On the afternoon of June 2, registrants can visit rose fields and perfume companies such as Robertet and IFF. June 5, a Saturday, is “a leisure day, with a pro-am golf tournament, shopping or time spent on the beach,” according to Jean-Pierre Subernaut, show organizer. The evening closes with a ceremony and dinner.

“The World Perfumery Congress has gotten bigger and bigger,” Mr. Subernaut noted. “The feedback I’ve gotten is that it is the only international event we perfumers have of this kind. Speakers come from all over the world.”

Symposium info: Jim Fassold, (201) 405-2018 or Website, www.perfumers.org; World Perfumery Congress info: Website: www.worldperfumerycongress.com.

Fresh Releases
Sales slumps notwithstanding, there is a good dose of optimism in fine fragrance this year. Marketers had their opinions as to why sales numbers were lower than expected.

“A lot of the reason for the apparent sales decline (in department stores) could be that there are other venues to purchase fragrance,” pointed out Terese McDonald Lang, vice president of retail sales development and training at Beaute Prestige International (BPI), which markets Issey Miyake and Jean Paul Gaultier fragrances. “When department store annual sales are figured, essential oils, single-note fragrances and boutique shopping are not factored in. Also, there are a lot of other venues to purchase fragrance; for instance, buying Gap fragrances at a Gap store.”

Issey Miyake’s new Les Eaux d’Ete is an alchohol-free scent for summer.

Issey Miyake is ready with this year’s summer fragrance, Les Eaux d’Ete. “It’s a game of contrast: light and dark, day and night,” Ms. Lang said. The packaging reflects the concept in a clear bottle with deep blue illumination that gradiates up to light. “The women’s fragrance is an alcohol-free spray,” Ms. Lang said. “It’s different from the regular Issey Miyake. It’s a pure, luminous, fresh interpretation.”

A men’s companion fragrance is spicy, woody and stimulating with packaging that complements the women’s packaging, Ms. Lang said.

Issey Miyake also introduced Soothing Night fragrance, formulated with essential oils of geranium and rose to help one unwind from an active day. Soothing Night fragrance has a low concentration—2%—so the skin feels fresh, moisturized and smooth. A 3.4-oz. spray retails for $52.

Meanwhile, BPI has introduced new Gaultier versions. In time for summer, the women’s bottle design includes a sunset dress, and the men’s companion fragrance is dressed in a T-shirt emblazoned with the sun. “The theme is the sunset emerging from a turquoise sea,” Ms. Lang said. The women’s fragrance is a fresh and sunny rose scent, warmed by Arabian jasmine and vanilla; the men’s version is a stimulating summer fragrance with a hint of mint, lavender and vanilla.

Other fragrance houses admitted that the industry has felt a pinch sales-wise, but opinions varied as to the causes of lower sales.

Laurice Rahme, founder of Bond No. 9, pointed out that weather could have been a factor. “We had a very harsh winter here (in the northeast), and honestly, who wants to go out when it’s snowing and cold?” Ms. Rahme said. She added that on warmer days, her three upscale Manhattan stores have much more traffic. “In the spring, consumers ‘wake up,’” she said. “We come alive; we go out of doors.”

When those doors open, Bond No. 9 will be waiting. The company has an impressive lineup for the coming months. Each scent is based on a different area of New York.

Originally from Paris, Ms. Rahme quickly took to the Big Apple and wanted to express the feel of the city in her fragrances, but “How do you classify New York?” she said. “Actually, we tried very hard not to classify it. New York is a non-traditional mixture; it’s non-conforming.”

With that in mind, Eau de New York joins the Bond No. 9 fragrance line in May. Eau de New York includes top notes of grapefruit, mandarin, bergamot and petit grain spiked with fresh greens, followed by heart notes of neroli, gardenia, cyclamen, white lily, basil, verbena and jasmine. The base notes include vetiver, oak moss, skin musk and white wood for “a sensual but balancing effect,” Ms. Rahme said.

Future releases for the brand include Central Park West, due to launch this summer; Little Italy, slated for December and China Town and West Side Story, next spring and summer.

Elizabeth Arden is looking ahead, too: the company anticipates the release of the first Britney Spears-branded fragrance this fall. About 2000 U.S. stores will carry the fragrance.

According to Elizabeth Arden executives, the songstress hasn’t just signed her name to the brand; she is personally involved with all aspects of the fragrance’s creative process including the development of the juice, packaging and marketing.

“I love perfume and cosmetics and am so excited to develop my own line with Elizabeth Arden,” Ms. Spears commented in a statement.

A global launch will follow in Spring 2005. The brand will also include color cosmetics and skin care.

What’s the attraction? Lancôme executives say their spring-release Attraction scent is sexy, tasteful and elegant.

French Connection
When one thinks of fragrance, Paris is usually the first city that comes to mind. The finest fragrance houses typically carry a French name and European roots; even Bond No. 9, conceived in the U.S., has a Parisian creator. American shoppers continue to gravitate toward the classics, and newer names can achieve an edge by advertising their across-the-pond connections.

Lancôme reveals its sexy side with Attraction, available this spring. The scent “reflects the emotion of a woman who passionately attracts the man she loves,” according to executives.

“Lancôme enters new territory with Attraction,” said Dalia Chammas, senior vice president and general manager, Lancôme. “This is a sexy new direction for us. The fragrance encapsulates the magnetic attraction between a man and a woman in love, but in a tasteful and elegant way.”

Attraction includes top notes of gardenia, green syringa, neroli and ylang; middle notes of iris, patchouli, jasmine sambac, tuberose and Bulgarian rose and base notes of vanilla, cedar wood, musk and light amber.

Attraction is housed in a sphere of engraved glass bursting with light, evoking the intimate, sensual and feminine character of the fragrance, executives said. It retails in a 3.4-oz. EDP spray for $70; a 1.7-oz. EDP spray for $49.50 and a 6.7-oz. body lotion for $40.

Chanel offers the limited-edition Gardénia, “another Chanel first,” executives said. According to the company, Coco Chanel and perfumer Ernest Beaux created a single-scent fragrance in 1925. That flower is the base for Gardénia, which was introduced at Saks Fifth Avenue in January and nationwide in March.

Gardénia is packaged in a classically elegant white and black box. A 1.2 oz. EDT spray retails for $55.

Boucheron is also evoking sensuality with Trouble, an Oriental scent that was inspired by passionate and unpredictable women, according to company executives. The deep red shade of the bottle evokes intensity, temptation, passion and mystery. A golden snake coils around the bottle’s neck. The scent goes on-counter April 15.

Parfums Evaflor greets spring with several fragrances. Caresse contains Oriental notes and touches of green. Désire de Femme contains subtle, luminous fruity and floral nuances. Ness is “an intense encounter” of floral and fruity, jasmine, wood, musk and vanilla notes.

The Demeter Fragrance Library is located in New York, but its offbeat fragrances are blended “in the European tradition,” according to a spokesperson. In fact, 14 new colognes, including Sex on the Beach, Rain and Créme Brulee, will be sold exclusively at Sephora in France this spring.

Demeter is busy in other countries too; the brand launched in Australia in December, and its unique fragrances such as Dirt, Tomato and the new Fuzzy Navel and Orange Cremecicle are popular in a number of markets.

The company is also in collaboration with Human Pheromone Sciences Inc. for its new Natural Attraction line, a collection of six “mood-enhancing” fragrances. This month, Demeter also launches six scents under the Kahala line, the result of a 10-year licensing agreement with the Hawaiian shirt label of the same name.

“It’s a new direction for the company,” said Christopher Brosius, Demeter’s founder.

Givaudan is taking a new approach too, but it isn’t based on marketing any specific scent. Instead, the company offers the Sensory Experience, a presentation the company offers to clients to take a cross-category look at scent. The Sensory Experience relies heavily on the connect between taste and smell, according to Givaudan executives.

“We look at everything from toothpaste to fine fragrance to candles to personal care products, and we organize them into major themes (such as “Altered Perceptions” and “Bright Spark”),” said Jenine Guerriero, marketing manager, Givaudan. “The presentation gives a very compact view of the world and helps marketers understand trends in general.”

The presentation is meant to inspire marketers in all aspects of the industry to create just the right fragrance. For example, “Bright Spark is all about the trends of new citrus notes we’re seeing, such as Seville oranges and lemons,” Ms. Guerriero said. “We also present ‘Dark Lushness,’ which includes rich, lush, exotic fragrance notes, such as spice-infused chocolates.”

Fragrance is less about a name or place of origin than it is about inspiration, Ms. Guerriero insisted. “Inspiration comes from so many different aspects,” she pointed out. “What we want to hear after a Sensory Experience presentation is, ‘Oh, we’ve never thought about that; we’re glad you brought that to our attention. It’s perfect for our brand.”

Spinoff City
Inspiration can indeed come from many sources, including a new take on a formula that has worked well in the past. Perhaps fragrance houses can’t improve upon classics, but they can give them a new twist for broader category appeal, or to honor holidays or seasons. That’s just what some fragrance houses are doing with well-known favorites.

First EDT is “fresh, radiant and elegant,” Van Cleef & Arpels executives said. The company also offers a companion Milk Body mist.

This June, Lancôme will reveal a new interpretation of Trésor. The EDT has a top note that includes a fruity scent and blackcurrant bud; a heart of magnolia, apricot rose and lilac and a pure base of sandalwood and smooth vanilla.

Trésor EDT “embodies the gentle and light-hearted feelings of a woman embracing tender love and happiness,” according to Lancôme executives. The EDT is $62.50 for 3.4-oz. or $47.50 for 1.7-oz.

Guerlain Paris is taking a lighter look at Shalimar. Shalimar Light contains all the same notes as the original Shalimar, but each has been reconfigured for a completely new olfactory perception, according to Guerlain executives.

Rock royalty and style icons Patti Hansen, Theodora and Alexandra Richards are featured in Shalimar Light’s print advertising to match the fragrance’s theme, “a new generation rocks a classic.” Shalimar was first introduced in 1925; the new Shalimar Light is a radiant and light-hearted rendition of the original, company executives said.

Shalimar Light’s print advertisement is a family portrait: Ms. Hansen and Theodora and Alexandra Richards are the wife and daughters of rock star Keith Richards. The women serve as “icons for generations of women,” Guerlain executives said.

A rock royalty trio—the wife and daughters of Rolling Stone Keith Richards—are touting new Shalimar Light.

Shalimar Light contains notes of amber, vanilla, bergamot and jasmine petals. A 2.5-oz and 1.7-oz. EDT retail for $60 and $50, respectively. Ancillaries include a Moisturizing Fresh veil and Fresh gel for bath and shower.

Ralph Lauren is capitalizing on the success of men’s fragrance Romance with Romance Silver. The fragance is said to be a fresh spicy suede. It contains a fresh top of Cabernet grapes, crushed leaves, silver cypress and tangerine; a warm heart of tobacco flower, watery violet, mate and nutmeg and a masculine base of suede musk, vetiver, guaiacwood, driftwood and patchouli. “The Romance Silver man exudes modern masculinity. He is 20-49 years old, confident, sophisticated and contemporary,” executives said.

Ralph Lauren will also launch Ralph Cool, a younger, more playful counterpart to the Ralph women’s scent, in June.

“The youth market is really important and they, even more than their older sisters or mothers, really require newness,” said Andrea Q. Robinson, president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances Worldwide at L’Oréal USA. “The whole surfer thing has taken on a lot of velocity, so we felt there was a real opportunity to appeal to a different lifestyle, which doesn’t necessarily mean a surfer lifestyle but just a cooler lifestyle from the original Ralph.”

Ralph Cool’s target audience is 15-25 years old. The fragrance is described as a lush, sexy coral with top notes of kiwi, iced nectarine, watermelon and cucumber peel; middle notes of linden blossom, honeysuckle, jasmine and lily of the valley and base notes of creamy musk, sheer vetiver and sensual woods.

Giorgio Armani hits a high note with White Notes, a new version of the original Sensi.

Giorgio Armani is following up on Sensi with Sensi White Notes; it launches in May. Sensi White Notes is an original twist on Sensi with renewed freshness, purity and lightness, company executives said. Jazzed-up accords include Kaffir lime, tangerine, white rose, white lily, water hyacinth, rosewood and benzoin.

Procter & Gamble Prestige Beauté has launched a Laura Biagotti fragrance spinoff master brand: Aqua di Roma and Aqua di Roma Uomo. The two scents were released in March in Italy. A German launch follows in May, while the scents will be revealed to the rest of Europe, the UK and the U.S. this fall.

For a Limited Time Only
Some blooms are temporary, but memorable nonetheless. Fine fragrance is bursting into spring with limited-edition seasonal scents.

The Paris d’Yves Saint Laurent springtime fragrance, Roses des Bois, celebrates tenderness, romanticism and delicate femininity, according to executives. It contains an opening accord of rose buds, orange blossom and violet; a character of wild roses, blackberry and lily of the valley and a structure of bramble wood, sandalwood and musks.

Roses des Bois is housed in a bottle inspired by the hues of the wood rose, according to YSL executives. A shaft of light pierces the center, while the sides are gradually tinged with increasing depths of pink. The scent went on-shelf March 15 at $44 for 4.2-oz.

Escada’s newest creation, Island Kiss, is the company’s 12th limited edition seasonal fragrance. Said to evoke the Greek Isles while highlighting part of Escada’s fashion collection, Island Kiss’s outer packaging features a cartoon character wearing a miniskirt-and-bikini-top ensemble, while its bottle is a combination of pink and blue hues.

Island Kiss launched last month in France. Thirty-, 50- and 100ml eau de toilette sprays are available for $42.50, $56.50 and $75.80, respectively.

Christian Dior will launch Sweet Sun, a limited-edition summer fragrance, in May. The alcohol-free Sweet Sun is said to be a “treatment fragrance” and is part of the Dior Bronze line.

Sweet Sun contains anti-oxidizing vitamin E and is said to create a sense of well-being by promoting the release of endorphins. Its notes, supplied by Givaudan, include mandarin, orange jasmine, ginger, musk and vanilla. A 4.25-oz. bottle will retail for $36.

Van Cleef & Arpels introduced First, a summer eau de toilette. First is “fresh, radiant and elegant,” company executives said. The scent’s accords include fresh, subtle and sensual notes such as mandarin orange, blackcurrant leaves, rose, peony, Casablanca lily, amber and white cedar. The EDT is $50 for 3.3-oz; a companion Milky Body mist retails for $35 for 3.3-oz.

Oscar de la Renta offers Summer Dew. It goes
on-shelf in May.

Classic perfumer Oscar de la Renta offers Summer Dew eau de toilette. It includes a light, fresh sparkle of bergamot and mandarin; sweet jasmine, rose, violet and Amazonian white lotus and velvety benzoin, musk and amber. The bottle reflects the subtlety of dawn when the sky above seems momentarily suspended, magical and romantic, executives said, with lilac-tinted shading offset with light. Summer Dew goes on-shelf May 15 at $56 for 3.3-oz.

Boucheron offers Boucheron pour Homme eau de cologne and Jaïpur Homme Fresh eau de toilette in time for Father’s Day. Boucheron pour Homme is a classic masculine fragrance housed in a distinctive pyramid topped flask. The scent is said to be a citrus, woody blend with clean, cool notes that maintains the traditional and masculine appeal of the original Boucheron men’s fragrance.

Jaïpur eau de toilette is exotic and luxurious, according to company executives. The EDT is a fresh, spicy Oriental fragrance. Boucheron executives said Jaïpur EDT was created for the adventurer with an open and free character. Each men’s fragrance retails for $52 for 3.3-oz.

Metrosexuals and More
Men’s fragrance performed below expectations last year, but marketers insist that the category continues to make strides, and there is a wealth of new choices for spring.

Guys are more experimental than ever when it comes to personal care, according to marketers contacted by Happi. “Today, men are more aware of their personal appearance and less intimidated by grooming products,” said Lisa Aurichio, public relations manager at Unilever. “New programs like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy are giving men more confidence about grooming.”

At the same time, marketers should keep in mind that men look for products that are easy to use and evoke a masculine attitude, according to Brian Robinson, president, Zirh Skin Nutrition. “Trends in the category continue to be limited edition fragrances, less ancillary SKUs and more macho fragrances for men,” he said.

Zirh launched its new John Varvatos fragrance in March at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York. An international launch is planned at Holt Renfrew in Canada the first week of June.

John Varvatos’ juice, created by Quest International, is a woody oriental for the modern, discerning man, according to company executives. “It’s a blend of rare notes, many of which have never before been used in perfumery, which lend the signature of the scent,” said Mr. Robinson.

Some of the more exotic notes in the John Varvatos scent include Medjool date fruit, Indian ajowan and tamarind tree leaves. At the same time, it evokes familiarity with creamy wood and leather undertones, executives said. The bottle is a smoked glass flask-like shape wrapped with luxurious black leather.

Men’s fashion label Pal Zileri, which established a foothold in the U.S. eight years ago, is launching its two-year-old fragrance business in the U.S. The brand’s signature scent rolls out chainwide at Nordstrom stores June 4.

And French fashion house Lanvin, which launched its Vetyver men’s scent in Europe last June, landed in U.S. locations late in 2003.

Like the rest of fine fragrance’s categories, men’s fragrance sales slipped last year, but marketers are optimistic. “Although the men’s fragrance business has been a challenge over the past year, we are beginning to see a turnaround,” insisted Ms. Aurichio. “It appears the men’s fragrance business is starting a resurgence.”

Double Duty
Unisex fragrances were all the rage a few years ago. Though they still exist—some very successfully—it’s all about individual but complementary male/ female fragrances this year, marketers say.

Unilever introduced Vera Wang for Men, created as the complement to the Vera Wang fragrance. Executives said Vera Wang for Men is designed to spark a woman’s desire and emotion. “(It is) for men who exude confidence, charm and passion, effortlessly,” said Ms. Aurichio.

Chic for Men is another male counterpart to an existing woman’s line. It is classified as a fresh, woody Oriental. It joins the Caroline Herrera fragrance franchise. Chic for Men rolled out in just 200 doors in February. For the first six months of its launch the fragrance will be a Saks Fifth Avenue exclusive.

“This is in line with a decision we’ve implemented over the last year to focus on our highest-volume doors,” said Martha Brady, general manager of Puig North America Beauty and president of Puig USA, Hererra’s fragrance licensee. “We want to provide the best service and support, and that’s tough when you’re in 1,500 doors.”

Chic for Men will roll out to its additional locations, which will include Marshall Field’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s, in September.

Parfums Evaflor’s Whisky for Men, a woody, spicy scent, is accompanied this spring by Whisky for Women. The same goes for Double Whisky, which introduced Double Whisky for Women, a fresh and fruity eau de parfum.

Lancaster Group’s Black Kenneth Cole for Her follows on the success of Black Kenneth Cole, which launched last September. The female version of the fragrance is available this month. The juice, created by Amandine Marie of Robertet, has notes of white hyacinth, citrus, black violet, magnolia, tuberose, lotus flower, sandalwood, sweet amber and musk.

It All Makes Scents
Whether traditional or experimental, couture or cool, fragrance impacts consumers at all levels. As such, the category will remain a “must-have,” according to marketers contacted by Happi, but some modifications may be in order.

“Looking ahead to 2004, we may witness a more pronounced change in the way fragrances are organized and chosen by consumers: by fragrance family,” predicted Ms. Carlson of NPD Beauty. Fragrance family classifications are used under license from Michael Edward’s “Fragrances of the World” guidebook, she said.

Meanwhile, old habits are hard to break, but that can only be good news to perfumers, insisted Ms. Lang of BPI.

“We’re seeing a lot of return to the classics,” she said. “Male scents are more masculine; female scents are more feminine. That’s where the consumer most often seems to gravitate—to the cultured and classic.”

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