Fine Fragrance: Holiday 2004

November 22, 2005

Fragrance houses are hoping for a little holiday magic this year.

Eternity Moment was dubbed “femininity in a bottle” by its creators.
There’s no doubt about it: the holidays are a magical time.

This year, however, fragrance marketers are relying on more than magic to make the season bright.

Fine fragrance is a holiday-gift staple. Without fail, each autumn perfumers roll out new launches in order to take advantage of the one time of the year consumers actually feel like spending, regardless of the economy.

Things have looked rather bleak in the fragrance industry for the past several years, with disappointing sales tallies come January. Last year’s hopes for a holiday-time sales lift were dashed in retail: for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 3, 2004, women’s fragrance declined almost 6%, while men’s shaving lotion and fragrance fell 0.7%.

However, prestige market sales totals indicate all is not lost, industry executives insist.

Total prestige fragrances were $1 billion for the January-June 2004 period, up 1% from last year's comparable period, according to NPDBeauty, a division of The NPD Group. Women’s scents fared a little better than men’s at $678 million, a 2% increase over the prior year. The men’s category slipped 1%, earning $345 million for the period.

Riding on the wave of these numbers, marketers are churning out new releases and setting their sights on December to bring men’s sales up, and keep women's total sales on the upswing.

Fashion Forward
Industry experts agree that fashion trends trickle down to the fragrance industry. Celebrity-name scents can add a perk, albeit sometimes a temporary one, to a fragrance house’s sales.

The Estée Lauder Companies is looking for long-term success via a multi-year partnership with Sean John, the maker “P. Diddy” Combs. Under the exclusive agreement, which became effective last spring, Estée Lauder creates and markets fragrances under the Sean John name.

“People express themselves in many ways—through their music, through the way they dress, and also through the fragrance they choose, so deciding to make a fragrance was very natural for me,” commented Mr. Combs in a statement.

Parlux Fragrances is setting its sights high, too. Parlux’s new Paris Hilton fragrance was slated to debut in a limited number of doors, but “The response to our recent presentations (of the fragrance) to the U.S. department store market has been better than expected,” said David Schwanz, vice president of domestic sales, Parlux. “A soft launch, originally scheduled for (this month) in 250-500 doors, is now scheduled for over 1000 doors and increasing with each presentation.”

Ms. Hilton oversaw the creation of the eponymous scent, which contains many of her favorite fragrance notes, Parlux executives said. Top notes include frozen apple and peach nectar; middle notes include freesia, jasmine and skin musk. Sandalwood and pheromones comprise the base.

The fragrance debut will be supported by glitzy parties in major cities including New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Paris and a print advertising campaign is set to launch in January.

The Paris Hilton fragrance will retail at just $39 for a 1.7-oz. bottle and $49 for a 3.4-oz. bottle in order to accommodate its target audience of 15-25 year olds.

Boucheron offers a limited-edition violet-blue, mirrored bottle.

Designer John Varvatos is getting in on the act as well. To kick off the launch of new John Varvatos, The Fragrance, Mr. Varvatos made a personal appearance at Marshall Field’s State Street, Chicago, in September. Visitors were treated to a preview of the Varvatos Fall 2004 collections for men and women at a fashion show held onsite.

John Varvatos, The Fragrance collection includes a 4.2-oz. EDT, a 2.5-oz. EDT, aftershave, hair and body wash and deodorant. It is available in fine department stores, specialty stores and in designer boutiques nationwide.

Britney Spears exploded in typical fashion onto the fragrance scene with Curious Britney Spears, the singer’s first scent. Introduced just this summer, the fragrance is already far outselling original expectations, according to retailers.

Celebrities are linked in other ways to fragrances in order to get noticed. For example, Scarlett Johansson is the new “face” for Eternity Moment; Nicole Kidman was paired with Chanel and Charlize Theron with Dior for added impact.

In Its Second Year, IFF Xpress is Off to a Fast Start
Its second anniversary is still months away, but clearly IFF Xpress is all grown up. The online business of International Flavors & Fragrances now offers more than 350 fragrances and 400 flavors—a huge growth spurt considering IFF Xpress offered just 50 fragrances and flavors at its inception.

But while its catalog has been expanded, speed-to-market remains the same: IFF Xpress can ship fragrance and flavor samples in 24 hours and orders in just 5-7 business days.

At the company’s website, www.iffxpress.com, users can brows IFF’s extensive catalog of flavors and fragrances, request samples with the click of a button and keep up on some of the latest marketing trends and industry information. But IFF Xpress service doesn’t stop once an order is placed; company executives insist they provide a wide range of support.

“Many of our customers are small to mid-sized companies,” noted Scott Chaplin, vice president of business development, IFF Xpress. “Often they need help with issues such as solubility and order of addition. Most of the time we can handle all their issues over the phone.” The IFF Xpress catalog consists of such aplications as candles, bar soaps, laundry products, hair care, air care and personal wash.

A Little Holiday Shopping
Perfumers are gearing up for the holidays with new fragrances, new ancillaries and gift sets. Shanghai, created by Marc Rosen, debuted to international buyers in Cannes, France in October; for the holidays, the Shanghai Purse Perfume spray will be launched.

Shanghai is “the ultimate item for the little black evening bag,” company executives said. The creation recalls the glamour of old Shanghai, where stars like Marlene Dietrich and Anna May Wong made their mark.

Shanghai is spicy and exotic, with touches of bergamot, green pineapple, Asian magnolia, jasmine and wild plum. It is also available in a Shower Silk gel and body lotion, each housed in luxurious red cylinders.

Chanel offers new EDT sprays of No 19, No 22, Gardénia, Bois des Iles and Cuir de Russie, “a modern touch on Chanel classics,” executives said. Each retails for $80 and launched last month at department and specialty stores, Gloss.com and Sephora.com.

Jewelry house Boucheron offers its eponymous scent in a limited-edition jewel case for the holidays. The bottle and cabochon are dressed in violet blue with a mirror effect. The fragrance keeps its original character intact with Sicilian mandarin, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, tuberose, jasmine, amber, sandalwood and vanilla. It goes on-shelf this month in a $90, 1.6-oz. EDP.

Men’s fragrance house Essenza di Zegna launched Essenza di Zegna EDT Intense, a vibrant composition of citrus notes, Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian mandarin, balsamic vetiver and other spicy and intense notes. The 2.5-oz. EDT retails for $65 and is a limited-edition fragrance. It went on-shelf in October.

Also for men, Mary Kay introduced Velocity for Him in September. The 2-oz. cologne retails for $28, and a body wash is available for $16.

Lulu Guinness designed a fragrance that is retro but retains a modern edge, according to executives.

Retro with a Twist
Vintage looks have been at the forefront of fashion for the past several years and reflect a desire to go back to what is perceived as a simpler time. Because the concept of “vintage” means it has not only been done once, but is being done all over again, it’s naturally much tougher to stay cutting-edge. Designers are looking for new twists to old designs in order to stay one step ahead.

Designer Lulu Guinness is recognized globally for her handbag designs; her signature look is vintage 1950s, including clothing and scarlet red lipstick, “without which she never leaves the house,” according to Allison Daisley of Riviera Concepts, spokesperson for the eponymously-named Lulu Guinness fragrance. However, “you can’t just recreate the past,” said Ms. Daisley. “The Lulu politics of style is to never follow the pack, and to put a modern edge on things.”

The Lulu Guinness fragrance reflects a playful, flirtatious and elegant outlook, according to Riviera executives. “It is a complimentary fusion between grand tradition and modern perfumery,” Ms. Daisley said. Recently, a second edition of the Lulu limited-edition fragrance was released. The new scent, Put On Your Pearls Girls, is described as opulent, intoxicating, distinctive and “very rich.”

Put On Your Pearls Girls includes such exotic notes as forest syringa, green ivy saplings, Italian golden lemon zest, royal giant lily biocaptive and sampaguita jasmine, among others. It is housed in a mini-version of Lulu’s famous fan bag clutch.

Love That Scent
While some fragrance designers reach for different angles and new ideas, many capitalize on the idea that fragrance evokes memories and emotion. Keeping it simple and playing on consumers’ most basic desires, these classic scents stay on top of the fragrance game with only minimal seasonal tweaking of the formula.

Ralph Lauren has updated its nearly 30-year-old Lauren women’s fragrance with Lauren Style, targeted to women 25-50-plus. It launched in 2,200 doors in September. An international launch is planned for 2005.

Calvin Klein launched Eternity Moment, also in September, “a fragrance inspired by the exhilaration of falling in love,” according to company executives.

Scarlett Johansson and actor Trent Ford star in the Eternity Moment print and television ad campaign. “It’s that moment everything changes, when you go from being ‘in like’ to being ‘in love,’” Ms. Johansson said of the campaign, mirroring the very basic, emotional feeling the fragrance is said to create.

Eternity Moment is available in a $45, 1.7-oz. EDP; a $60 3.4-oz. EDP; a body lotion and a bath and shower gel.

Fashion house Prada also introduced a scent, but it is based on a simple concept: “femininity in a bottle.” Prada and Puig Prestige Beauty rolled out the scent last month. A prior launch was held exclusively in 43 doors including Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; Neiman Marcus; Bergdorf Goodman and at Prada boutiques.

Puig executives said the scent is “the classic of tomorrow,” with timeless elegance and quality. The amber accord includes bergamot, bitter orange, mandarin and mimosa top notes; a heart of rose, schimus and moelle absolutes blended with patchouli and a base of labdanum, tonka bean, vanilla, benzoin siam and sandalwood.

The company plans a men’s fragrance for 2005, as well as refills for the deluxe atomizer bottle. In addition to three sizes of EDP spray, a perfumed bath and shower gel and a hydrating body lotion complete the fragrance line.

High Aspirations
Estée Lauder, New York, NY, has an idea the company hopes will really take off: Pleasures Exotic, available only at airports. The limited-edition scent, which will be available for about a year according to executives, joins the Pleasures line which includes the Pleasures floral, Pleasures for Men transparent woody/fresh floral and the Pleasures Intense textured floral.

Pleasures Exotic is a tropical floral with a top note of mango passion fruit cocktail, pink grapefruit, orange, dewy green leaves and lemongrass. The heart consists of island bamboo flowers, hibiscus flower and fresh orange blossoms, as well as such distinctive scents as lychee and rose petals. The drydown contains Indian sandalwood, sun-kissed amber and soft violet woods.

“Pleasures Exotic finds inspiration from the signature notes in Pleasures—tender peony, dewy green leaves, rose petals, baie rose, Indian sandalwood—but we added a twist by incorporating the exotic beauty and vitality of a tropical local,” said Karyn Khoury, senior vice president, corporate fragrance development worldwide, Estée Lauder Companies.

The woman who would wear Pleasures Exotic is “sexy, playful and fun,” Ms. Khoury added.

Every season is cause for celebration, according to Signature Scents executives.

The fragrance, due out shortly, will be available in travel retail outlets only, tying in to the theme of exotic places and sensual delights. Estée Lauder executives said the scent serves as a “unique” approach to last-minute airport gifts.

A Part of the Neighborhood
Paris is the home to many of the world’s most famous fragrance houses. In an interesting twist, one Parisian has so embraced the U.S. that she created—and has since expanded on—scents dedicated to different parts of New York City.

French fragrance and Bond No. 9 creator Laurice Rahme celebrates the sights, sounds, smells and attitudes of her adopted New York home with Eau de New York and New Haarlem. In October, Little Italy was added to the Bond No. 9 roster. Wall Street is scheduled to follow next month.

Each of the Bond No. 9 New York fragrances is carefully blended to create a mood, from packaging to the juice itself, according to Ms. Rahme. In the case of Little Italy, “a longstanding relationship between Italy and America is celebrated,” she said. “You have to be a New Yorker to understand Little Italy, but those who live here will identify right away with the scent, which is happy, playful and embraces casual/chic…something Italian Americans have a gift for.”

The mandarin orange note in Little Italy is mirrored in cheerful orange packaging. Other notes in the fragrance include clementine, grapefruit, tangerine, jasmine and sheer musk. Like the other Bond No. 9 New York fragrances, Little Italy’s bottle sports the image of a subway token. “Orange is a totally unisex color, too, so it appeals to everyone,” Ms. Rahme said. “The scent is very happy, and that’s something we all need right now.”

Little Italy is slated for a local launch, but Wall Street will jump right into a global release, with launches both within and outside the U.S. before the holidays, Ms. Rahme said.

Wall Street also carries a message—one dollar from each Wall Street purchase will go to Wall Street Rising, an organization dedicated to rebuilding and rejuvenating “an area that is truly becoming a neighborhood,” Ms. Rahme said. “The neighborhood has really been suffering (since Sept. 11, 2001), but now condominiums are being built; families are actually moving in. It’s not just business anymore on Wall Street; it’s becoming a real community.”

At the same time, Wall Street has definite associations which were echoed in the scent and the packaging. In its shiny black lacquered bottle, Wall Street is “very rich-looking,” Ms. Rahme said. The notes reflect the area itself, which is close to water; topnotes include sea kale and cucumber, the middle note comprises ozone, marine and lavender and the drydown contains rich vetiver musk and ambergris.

To Everything its Season
The holiday season is fast-paced for perfumers. But Signature Scents Aromatherapy, based in Homewood, IL, believes every season should be celebrated. Company founder and president Vicky Weis created the Celebrate the Seasons line of essential oil fragrance blends to “work on all levels of the body—the emotional, the mental, the physical and the spiritual.”

Each blend was carefully selected to reflect the change in seasons: Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. All are due out in the near future.

Ms. Weis knows whereof she speaks: she is the former owner of The Flossmoor Wellness and Day Spa in Flossmoor, IL, where she educated her staff and clients on the benefits of incorporating pure essential oils into their lives.

“(My clients) became more enticed with the feelings and sensations they were experiencing and after sampling my creations, they began asking me to create custom formulations for them—signature scents,” Ms. Weis said.

Unlike most wearable scents, the Celebrate the Seasons products contain no alcohol. “Part of the beauty of wearing scents created using only pure essential oil is that you get the therapeutic benefit,” Ms. Weis pointed out. “Each essential oil has its own molecular structure, and therefore, its own benefits.”

Celebrate the Seasons fragrances are available in a sampler containing four 1ml. vials so that women can try on all the scents. The sampler retails for $8. The blends are also available in a kit of 2ml. vials plus a meditation CD. For the holidays or any occasion, a gift set is also available, including the scents, the CD and an aromatherapy candle set. It is available for $62. Ms. Weis plans a rollout to retailers shortly; the items can also be found on the company’s website, www.vw-signaturescentsaromatherapy.com.

Essence of Vali, New York, NY, also focuses on natural ingredients. Valerie Benis, founder and president, took home the Natural Product award for her EOV fragrance at the ExTracts show in October.

“It was really exciting to win the award,” Ms. Benis said, “especially because the product hasn’t been sold anywhere yet. This was the EOV debut, and right away, it has been recognized.”

Eight essential oils in an alcohol base make up the EOV fragrance. “EOV was not crafted the way a typical perfume is,” Ms. Benis stressed. “It is an unusual combination of essential oils, and it contains no synthetic fragrance.”

The brainstorm for EOV came from a combination of repeat requests for the oils to be blended into Essence of Vali therapeutic products. Then one day, “I read an article about a perfume manufacturer, Delbia Do, a family-owned business in the Bronx, and I thought, ‘that blend I made is so beautiful, I wonder what it would be like in a perfume?’ So I contacted the company and sent them my blend.”

The EOV fragrance is Essence of Vali’s latest creation. The company says more scents will follow.

EOV and other Essence of Vali products can be found in spas, wellness centers, hotels and aromatherapy stores. “I think that in the upscale boutiques and spas we work with, EOV has a definite place,” Ms. Weis said.

Now that she has been successful with one scent, would she be willing to try creating others? Most definitely: “In fact, I’m working on some therapeutic blends right now to make alcohol-based perfumes,” Ms. Weis revealed. “Ultimately, I want to expand and have a whole perfume line.”

That’s a reasonable goal, and well-timed, given the fact that the fine fragrance market is, at long last, climbing out of the red and into the black. With new ideas and new spins on classics, there’s hope that this year’s holiday fragrance sales will be sweeter than ever.

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