The early 20th century introduced us to legends like Pierre-Françcois-Pascal Guerlain and Coco Chanel. In time, those artisans gave way to the designer scents of the 1980s, but today, the fine fragrance market is booming with a barrage of fantastic florals, fashion-oriented mainstays and much more.
US prestige fragrance sales rose 4% to $4.0 billion last year, according to The NPD Group, Port Washington, NY. Niche market segments outpaced the overall market; for example, sales of natural and artisanal fragrances, grew 32% and 14%, respectively. Overall, fragrance juices brought in the most dollars for the entire holiday season, driven entirely by Christmas week, topping both makeup and skin care face products sold during the all-important selling season.
In contrast, fine fragrance sales are dropping in the mass market. Women’s fragrances fell 7% to $691.2 million, according to data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI) for total US multi-outlet (supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains) for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28, 2018. Women’s perfumes and colognes/body powder dipped 5.3% to $480.9 million. Women’s gift packs slipped 10.5% to $210.2 million. In men’s fragrance/shaving lotion, sales decreased 5.8% to $768.5 million. Shaving lotion/cologne/talc sales dropped 5% to $583.6 million while men’s gift pack/sets fell 7.7% to $230 million.
According to Linda G. Levy, president of The Fragrance Foundation, New York City, while classics and new brand launches from major designers still account for the greatest sales volume, a major trend in fine fragrance comes from niche and artisanal brands.
“The creativity and storytelling behind these indies—and indies flowing into the mainstream—is creating great disruption and excitement for consumers,” she told Happi.
Customization and personalization in fragrance and packaging is trending, too, added Levy. Brands are offering consumers an opportunity to tweak their fragrances with a few extra drops of the essential oil of their choice or create a custom scent from answering a questionnaire.
“Shoppers look for a fragrance that works for their lifestyle. They want a fragrance wardrobe of scents that they can wear either every day or for special occasions. They want their fragrances to uplift their moods or to transport them whether it’s a scent memory of a person, place or vacation destination.”
The new fragrance shopper is very different than in the past. According to Rachel ten Brink, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Scentbird, New York, there is no “signature scent,” only the “right scent” in the right moment. She said that consumers want to explore, discover and find something that perfectly suits their wants and needs. For example, due to customer demand, her company recently branched out into home fragrance with candles.
Franco Wright, co-founder of Luckyscent.com and Scent Bar, Los Angeles, told Happi that fine fragrance formulas are taking their cues from yesteryear.
“One thing we’re definitely loving is a renewed interest in big, bold, vintage-inspired fragrances—the kind of scents that are unafraid to use intense animalics, spicy florals and big doses of herbal or aromatic notes to evoke the grand chypres of yesteryear.”
Florals for women and aromatics for men, according to Levy, continue to be popular in 2018. For example, Hibiscus Palm is new from the Aerin Fragrance Collection.
“There’s something magical about tropical island life and the feeling of time standing still. I love the natural beauty of golden beaches, lush palms and exotic wild flowers,” said Aerin Lauder, founder and creative director, Aerin, in a press statement.
According to the Estée Lauder, Hibiscus Palm captures the dreamy island scent of brilliant sunshine on a lush beach. A lotus flower accord paired with a unique hibiscus palm accord, created exclusively for Aerin, combines the dewy freshness of palm leaf twisted with the breathtaking aura of hibiscus flower, unlocking the vivid blend of island aromas. Luxuriously rich ylang floralcy mingles with fiery ginger essence for an intoxicating and powerfully feminine impression.
At the heart of the fragrance, the scent of opulent tiare flower and frangipani petals collide with the fragrant blossoms of the melati flowers and tuberose absolute. Playful yet sophisticated, the dry down reveals a revitalizing warmth with a sun-drenched trail of vanilla, coconut milk, heliotrope and a hint musk.
For the packaging, a vibrant combination of colorful florals and flourishing vegetation in the Hibiscus Palm artwork captures the exotic inspiration behind the fragrance, according to the brand. The luscious painting style looks to vintage tropical prints to evoke abundant undergrowth and an alluring bouquet. The signature glass Aerin bottle features the stone-like cap in a coral shade with golden detailing.
Also, new in the prestige market is Dolce Garden eau de parfum. The frangipani blossom is used in this scent. With Dolce Garden—a floriental gourmand—perfumer Violaine Collas features sun-kissed top notes with juicy mandarin, bright neroli and airy magnolia. A silky almond milk accord evokes the traditional sweets of Sicily. Enriched with vanilla absolute and sandalwood, it extends the frangipani note into the drydown.
Parlux is going big this Spring with actress Sofia Vergara’s new fragrance, Tempting Paradise by Sofia Vergara. The latest addition to her scent portfolio is said to evoke the lush sensuality of an island paradise, with delectable fruit and floral notes native to Vergara’s vibrant Colombian homeland. It will be sold at Perfumania.
The latest fragrance from fashionista Kate Spade, In Full Bloom, recently debuted in Ulta. Inspired by the delicate beauty and youthful energy of a rose in bloom, the fragrance is described as “fun, feminine and timeless,” with light top notes of lemon and green tea, middle notes of rose and peony, and warm peach skin and cedar woods at the base. The bottle is designed with a blooming rose as its top and garnished with a black satin bow at the neck—a Kate Spade New York signature.
On the topic of New York, Bond No. 9’s Spring Fling celebrates the city in bloom as well. Touted as a vivacious feminine floral, the marketer known for profiling NYC neighborhoods this time focuses on a concept: the profusion of vibrant florals (irises, bluebells, geraniums, goldenrod, daffodils, to name a few) throughout New York City’s green spaces, from the High Line to Central Park, and from Bryant Park to Washington Square.
Lily of the valley and passionflower mix into a fruity tinge. The bouquet continues with three notoriously seductive heart notes: rose-like honeysuckle, jasmin and wine-like freesia. All that volatility meets durability in a resonating dry down of contemporary amber, slightly feral musk, and teak recalling a precious antique wooden box, said the company.
Capturing the essence of the scent inside, the Spring Fling bottle is rendered in the color for spring—a deep and mesmerizing violet-blue. The bottle features an oversized, attention-grabbing fuchsia silk flower.
Celebrity buzz will get the word out on the latest fine fragrance launches.
Supermodel Helena Christensen recently celebrated the launch of her new fragrance, Lostinflowers for perfume brand Strangelove nyc, at an intimate party in downtown New York, alongside Strangelove founder Elizabeth Gaynes. The party was hosted in former Rolling Stones/Aerosmith publicist and Duran Duran manager Wendy Laister’s downtown home.
Designer Eric Buterbaugh of Eric Buterbaugh Florals in Los Angeles told Happi that for fragrances, consumers crave high quality, pure products, created just for them.
“We have been experimenting with more of the ‘gentle’ oud fragrances such as Lily of the Valley with notes of saffron connecting the light floral notes with the heavier oud. I prefer my florals to be more ethereal, as if you were smelling the floral notes passing in a gentle breeze as opposed to be smacked in the face with a floral. Mimosa Flower is also a popular floral note that I’m loving at the moment.”
Guerlain kicked off its 190th anniversary with muse Angelina Jolie in Paris. During her stay, she experienced an exclusive tour of the historical Maison 68 boutique on the Champs-Élysées and participated in one of the Maison’s bespoke perfume ateliers. Since 2017, Jolie has been the face of Guerlain’s newest fragrance pillar, Mon Guerlain, created by master perfumer Thierry Wasser.
“This new accord invites us to move beyond the divide and ambiguity of masculine and feminine, because it works to reconcile genres. This is exactly what gives Guerlain its power and modernity,” commented Delphine Jelk, who co-created the fragrance.
According to Guerlain, Mon Guerlain features lavender that shakes up the feminine component of vanilla by infusing it with “audacity, freshness, purity and simplicity.”
Cartier’s latest men’s fragrance, Declaration eau de parfum, was created in celebration of Declaration’s 20th anniversary. According to the company, this elegant twist on a classic imparts a sensual, masculine scent that is intensely spicy and woody.
Ralph Lauren Fragrances is adding on to its Polo portfolio with Polo Ultra Blue, a fresh and long-lasting interpretation of the iconic, top-selling Polo Blue scent. Embodying the lifestyle and sport of the Polo brand, the company says that the fragrance is comprised of an energizing blend of citrus and crisp salt accord, for a refined, fresh and masculine scent. At the heart of the composition is a unique combination of artical and ambertonic—two patented molecules used for the first time together in a fragrance to create a completely new feeling of long-lasting crispness. Award-winning mixed martial artist Luke Rockhold is the face of the new Polo Blue franchise.
Michael Kors Extreme Speed, designed for the man who lives life with sleek style and explosive energy, features coriander and spices layered with distinctive woods and classic patchouli for a modern, dynamic masculinity. Michael Kors Extreme Speed opens with invigorating cardamom, sleek cypress and an exhilarating dose of aromatic sage. Cinnamon anchors the heart of the fragrance while violet wood delivers a smooth, woody hook, said the company.
In business deal news, Revlon has signed an exclusive global license agreement with contemporary UK-based fashion brand AllSaints Retail, Ltd. for the development, marketing, and distribution of fragrances and ancillary products. Established in 1994 in, AllSaints is known for its iconic biker jackets and its East London attitude.
Another boldface name in fine fragrance is the source of all things DKNY. Did you know that Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant is the No. 1 best-selling prestige body product in the US? One is sold nearly every two minutes! A gentle, yet effective deodorant and antiperspirant with the subtle scent of cashmere mist, the sheer scent was inspired by the feel of cashmere against bare skin with notes of orchid flower, moroccan jasmine, sandalwood and amber.
Inter Parfums, Inc. has entered into an exclusive, 15-year worldwide license agreement with Guess?, Inc. for the creation, development and distribution of fragrances under the Guess brand.
Jean Madar, chairman and CEO of Inter Parfums, Inc., stated, “Guess is a great addition to our portfolio of fragrance brands and we look forward to collaborating with the Guess team, who has more than 20 years of expertise in the beauty industry.”
And, last month, multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning pop icon Britney Spears received the Fragrance of the Year award for Fantasy Britney Spears In Bloom, the 21st scent of the star’s billion-dollar fragrance empire, at the 4th annual Hollywood Beauty Awards. Ron Rolleston, Revlon’s executive vice president, global fragrance marketing, presented the achievement to Spears at a black-tie dinner gala benefitting the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
Clean Reserve, a line of simple, eco-conscious fragrances, has launched Avant Garden Collection by Clean Reserve exclusively at Bloomingdale’s stores and Bloomingdales.com. Clean Reserve includes six fragrances that merge the structure of a traditional clean linear eau de parfum with a luxurious niche approach, according to Fusion Brands America Inc.
“The sustainable flowers from the farm in the original Clean Reserve collection have morphed together creating a fantastical world where two unlikely notes blend together in a lush, secret garden,” said Greta Fitz, VP-global marketing and product development, Fusion Brands America, Inc. “Each fragrance is comprised of two unlikely notes where together they make a magical, beautiful fragrance that has never before been experienced.”
Vegan, cruelty-free, free of phthalates, preservatives, gluten and artificial dyes, plus infused with safe molecular naturals and sustainable notes such as mandarin, cardamom, and sandalwood, Avant Garden is an organic extension of Clean Reserve’s mission to conscientiously source raw ingredients that are cultivated using environmentally sound harvesting practices. All fragrances are manufactured in a facility that uses 100% solar energy. The alcohol in Clean Reserve fragrances is derived from corn and in a gentle aloe blend, allowing for a highly refined and pure juice. And, in partnership with Firmenich, Mane and Takasago, of all Clean Reserve fragrances support and improve the lives and livelihoods of farmers and their families.
“Floral fragrances are quintessential for spring. They signify rebirth, femininity and flirtations with new opportunities in a new season. We’re seeing a big move toward modern twists on florals with soft petals cut with a leather edge or a spice like our sweet briar and moss fragrance from Clean Reserve Avant Garden Collection. This accurately captures what we’re seeing in the zeitgeist of strong feminine boss babes,” said Fitz.
The Future of Fragrance
Customization, transparency and single notes will be the next big thing, according to Levy of The Fragrance Foundation.
“New versions of customizations and bespoke is a trend that will engage fragrance consumers and give them more reasons to buy,” she told Happi. ”Ingredient transparency and any ‘give back’ initiatives will appeal to the millennial market and is an important brand statement. Single noted fragrances will continue to stand out in the artisanal market.”
According to Larissa Jensen, industry analyst for The NPD Group, brands will continue to develop alternative ways to connect with their consumers this year. In prestige specifically, department stores have struggled to create meaningful consumer engagement as foot traffic slows.
At the same time, added Jensen, luxury beauty is redefined.
“Hubert de Givenchy once said, ‘Luxury is in each detail.’ Yet, we have seen over the past year how the cornerstones of luxury—service, exclusivity, and personalization—are being challenged in retail, product, and experience. We can expect more of this in 2018…as we head into the year ahead, the biggest and most definitive thing we can all expect in the beauty industry is change.”
For example, Atelier Cologne’s collection is expanding with Joie De Vivre candles. The range features 10 entirely new olfactory creations—Vanille Nolita, Rose London, Orange Positano, Bois Montmartre, Bergamote Shanghai, Cédrat Venice, Thé Seoul, Oud Jumeirah, Tobacco Texas and Musc Impérial. Inspired by vintage apothecary pots and perfumer’s laboratory bottles, the candle’s flask celebrates the heritage of French perfumery resulting in an object of decoration.
As warmer weather approaches, the industry is looking forward to a new crop of outdoorsy scents that embrace the more rugged, spicy and green side of outdoors, said Wright of Scent Bar, “think notes like hay, herbs, grass and wildflowers. These scents tap into our primal understanding of nature and as such can be incredibly compelling… more than ever, we think shoppers want authenticity and originality. With the explosion of knowledgeable and motivated fragrance fans on message boards and social media groups, our customers aren’t happy to settle for brands they already know—they want new, original, creative and luxurious all at once, and there’s an exciting new crop of houses that can deliver it all.”
At press time, TPR Holdings LLC had signed a worldwide fragrance license with fashion house, Elie Tahari. The partnership will expand the ET lifestyle into women’s fragrance with an introduction scheduled for 2019.
“We are very impressed with TPR’s capabilities,” said Joey Gabbay, Bluestar Alliance LLC president responsible for the licensing of Elie Tahari both domestically and internationally. “We are working to expand the brand’s global presence and the TPR team has proven expertise and success in the fragrance category.”
“By adding a prestigious fragrance license like Elie Tahari to our beauty portfolio, we are able to further accelerate our penetration into the best worldwide distribution,” says Brian Robinson, TPR president. “This launch will be one of the premier fragrance launches in 2019. We are looking forward to working with the Tahari team and Bluestar Alliance to make this a fantastic reflection of the brand.”
The introductory Elie Tahari fragrance from this partnership will launch in Spring 2019.