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A Spring Thaw for Fragrance?

April 6, 2010

Everything from seasonal flankers to rocker-inspired EDTs are heating up the Spring/Summer fragrance season. But will these new rollouts light a fire in what has become an ice cold market?

A Spring Thaw for Fragrance?

Everything from seasonal flankers to rocker-inspired EDTs are heating up the Spring/Summer fragrance season. But will these new rollouts light a fire in what has become an ice cold market?

By Christine Esposito
Associate Editor

From seasonal flankers to rocker inspired scents, the Spring and Summer fragrance season is heating up with new launches. But fragrance has been one of the coldest categories in the beauty business. According to NPD Group, Port Washington, NY, total sales of men’s and women’s fragrance fell 10% to $2.48 billion in 2009.

Looking to end the deep freeze, fragrance houses are rolling out a number of new perfumes and colognes. The goal is to strike the fancy of consumers who tightened their purse strings last year, but just might be ready for some affordable indulgences, like perfume.
While offered at price points that are more indulgence than affordable for many consumers, Bond No. 9 can always be counted on to create a great juice story. Its Spring 2010 eau de parfum, High Line, is billed as “an androgynous floral-marine bouquet” which starts off with a prairie grazing weed, mixed with citrus-y bergamot and zesty Indian rhubarb. The perfume's floral heart contains red-leaf rose, Lady Jane tulips and grape hyacinth while base notes combine bur oak with imported sea moss, musk and teakwood. The scent, available in 100ml or 50ml for $220 and $145, respectively, is on counters in Saks Fifth Avenue as well as Bond No. 9’s four New York stores.

Ah Spring, the new Bond No. 9 scent captures the season.
Making news as one of the few firms ever to be acquired by Avon, UK skin care specialist Liz Earle has created her first bespoke fragrance, Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1, which hits the U.S. market this summer. Working with a “distinguished perfumer from Grasse, France,” Liz Earle stirred up a complex blend of 14 botanicals including bergamot, Manadrin orange, bigarade, lemon and cardamom top notes; rose absolute, lavender, geranium, coriander and nutmeg middle notes; and cedarwood, vetiver, tonka bean absolute, patchouli and base notes.

On its own, Avon has been busy on the fragrance front too, rolling out several new scents, including Aromadisiac fragrances for men and women. The masculine scent has notes of coriander, fig and leather patchouli, while the women’s juice includes notes of pink peppercorn, florals and amber. Meanwhile Avon’s Eternal Magic, available this month, reportedly takes its inspiration from the rare Princess Monaco Rose. The New York-based direct seller has tapped actress Zoë Saldana as the face of the new scent, which has notes of velvety rose and iris blended with warm vanilla and creamy woods.

Coty and Kimora Lee Simmons are launching Dare Me, a fragrance that will inspire and excite fans and fragrance lovers alike, according to the company. The floriental eau de toilette opens with a coconut top note that blends into a heart of velvety blackberry crème and vanilla orchid with a warm drydown of crème de musk and sandalwood.

Limited Engagement

Many fragrance houses use limited edition, seasonal flankers as a way to generate interest in an established scent.

Estée Lauder’s Aramis unit, for example, will offer Aramis Cool Blend, a limited edition fresh chypre for men with notes of fresh bergamot, lemon peel, lime zest, cinnamon, white pepper, golden amber, sandalwood and creamy suede.

Also part of the Lauder stable, Donna Karan’s Summer 2010 version of DKNY Woman has top notes of magnolia leaves, Mandarin, pink guava nectar, mango buds, freesia; middle notes of frangipani, lily of the valley, jasmine, orange blossom and base notes of cedar, blond wood and sandalwood.

Bath & Body Works is touting Sweet Pea Forever. This flanker to the brand’s original Sweet Pea fragrance features pink marigold and Gerber daisies with mandarin. Other notes include bergamot, orange, peach, apricot, watery apple, violet leaves, tuberose, tiara, blackcurrant, nectarine, gardenia, orange blossom, sun-kissed musk and sheer woods. In addition, BBW rolled out P.S. I Love You Spring Fling, which has accords of sparkling water, melon, fresh air ozonic notes, citrus, rose, muguet, honeysuckle, plum, amber, musk, cedar and sheer vetiver.

Designer Vera Wang has had the royal touch in fashion and fragrance and Coty is banking on her newest scent to attract a loyal crowd when it hits counters. Glam Princess, a limited edition eau de toilette spray features notes of guava, pear, honey, vanilla orchid, marshmallow accord and cedarwood.

Lux design house Burberry will tempt its fan base with Burberry Summer For Men—a woody aquatic citrus with notes of yuzu leaves, mandarin, mint, juniper berry, thyme, driftwood, gorse, cedar, sandalwood, amber and musk—and Burberry Summer For Women, a fruity floral with blackcurrant, pomegranate, mandarin, white peach, freesia, honeysuckle, lily of the valley, rose, cedar, sandalwood and musk.

The Celeb Scene

Celebrity fragrances continue to make their way into the marketplace too. And while some might argue those deemed a “celebrity” come from a watered down roster, fragrance houses continue align with stars to sell more scents.

In many cases, companies are sticking with known quantities, ala Coty, which has teamed once again with actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry. Said to be inspired more by the fictional character she plays—aka Carrie Bradshaw—Parker’s new juice, SJP NYC, is described as an addictive and colorful fruity floral built around a wild strawberry accord. Berry has added to her fragrance personal with new Pure Orchid. The new fragrance—which blends notes such as jungle cactus flower, lemon, blackberry crème and star anise with masdevallia orchid, giant sequoia and patchouli—is on counters at Walmart.

Reality TV star and model Kim Kardashian has rolled out her first fragrance with Lighthouse Beauty. The new scent, named aptly, Kim Kardashian, has notes of mandarin, honeysuckle, orange blossom, pink jasmine, tuberose, spice, gardenia, jacaranda wood, tonka bean, vanilla orchid, musk and sandalwood.

Like actresses, musicians have also become muses for many fragrance marketers.

Take Beauty Bank, which has rolled out Flirt Rock-n-Rebel Perfume Spray, a rock-star inspired fragrance created for the bold, independent spirit. The Estée Lauder unit has even tapped girl rock band The Veronicas as style ambassadors for the scent, which has blackberry, apple nectar and pink grapefruit notes and is sold at Kohl’s.

But Flirt doesn’t have the rock n roll scene all to itself. Anna Sui has created aflanker called Rock Me! Summer of Love. The juice is billed as a water floral with notes of bergamot, blue water hyssop, geranium, peach, freesia, waterlily accord, musky rose, sandalwood and ambergris.

With a significant following in music and fragrance, Celine Dion is looking to tap her fan base once again with Simply Chic — Céline Dion, flanker to Celine Dion Chic for women. The fragrance described as a sparkling woody floral with bergamot, blackcurrant, mandarin, freesia, linden, rose, silk musk, patchouli, crystal amber and sandalwood notes.

Beyoncé Knowles —arguably the hottest musician of the year—has entered the fragrance market. Less than 48 hours after her record-setting night at the Grammy Awards, Coty rolled out Beyoncé Heat, a floral, fruity, woody scent created by Givaudan. 
To mark the occasion, New York City's Union Square was illuminated with fiery red light and smoky fog and the star herself was on hand at Macy's Herald Square to promote the scent. What’s inside Beyonce Heat? The juice has top notes of magnolia, neroli and red vanilla orchid balanced with a kiss of luscious blush peach; a heart of almond macaroon, honeysuckle nectar and crème de musk and a base of a giant sequoia milkwood, tonka bean and amber.

Gwen Stefani—another rocker who has impacted fragrance marketing—has created Harajuku Lovers Sunshine Cuties limited edition summer flankers. The collection includes summer-inspired fragrances and new outfits for the “girls.” Love is a fruity floral, L’il Angel is a citrus gourmand, Music is a sensuous floral, Baby is a dewy floral and G is a creamy musk.

Where It All Began

While Gwen, Beyonce, SJP and Halle may be the celebrities du jour of fine fragrance, they all owe their start to one woman: Elizabeth Taylor.

The famed actress behind what many consider to be the epicenter of celebrity scents—White Diamonds—has created Violet Eyes via Elizabeth Arden. The new fragrance—said to be associated with imagination and inspiration (not to mention her amazing eye color)— has top notes of white peach, middle notes of jasmine flower and rich purple rose with a dry down of violet peony, cedar wood and warm amber.

As Violet Eyes hits counters this month, the question remains whether Taylor has the ability to create a buzz in 2010. But the sparkling floral that bowed in 1991 has proven its staying power. According to Euromonitor International, Chicago, the White Diamonds brand was the top celebrity fragrance globally in 2009 (see chart)—ahead of more recent scents created by more topical and (so-called) A-list stars.

Maybe diamonds are forever in fragrance too.

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