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Even though he introduced his first fragrance in 1977, Oscar de la Renta admitted this week that the jitters never go away when launching a product. His public appearance at Lord & Taylor, amid the grayness of a drizzly Wednesday afternoon, marked the introduction of de la Renta’s newest scent, Live in Love, and generated what industry sources estimate as $25,000 worth of sales that day.
“I hope the rain won’t stop people from coming,” said the designer about his first in-store fragrance appearance in a decade. “They say rain brings good luck so I hope [it does] in this case.”
Come noon, hundreds of customers who had purchased Live in Love gift sets piled into Lord & Taylor’s ground floor awaiting the chance to meet with de la Renta, who signed boxes and posed for photos.
Before the event, de la Renta had breakfast with Lord & Taylor beauty advisers, sharing his brand history and how it ties into the Live in Love launch.
“The people that are going to sell the fragrance are the girls behind the counter, if you can make an impression on them — if you can make them fall in love with what you are doing — then you are going to have success because they have far much more influence on the consumer than anybody else,” said de la Renta.
Alexander Bolen, chief executive officer at Oscar de la Renta, said for this scent, the goal was not to appeal to a younger demographic, but to speak to the existing Oscar consumer in a fresh way.
“I don’t know that the target audience is any different,” said Bolen. “We have a fiercely loyal Oscar customer. That group hasn’t expanded much. She’s perhaps matured and we want to talk to that same group but in a new way — in the context of life, in the context of energy.”
For Bolen, who recently reacquired the de la Renta beauty trademark in a court case with L’Oréal, it has been critical to fuse the fashion and fragrance aspects of the brand with each launch.
“We saw a major brand problem,” said Bolen. “Our fashion business was thought of in one way and the fragrance business was thought of in a very different way. And unfortunately, the way it was thought of was starting to negatively impact our fashion business. We’ve been pleased to find out there is a lot of opportunity, as well. We’re now playing offense and not just defense.”
Bolen added that when it comes to marketing launches, the Oscar brand has a huge advantage — the man himself.
“Others don’t have Oscar and we do,” said Bolen. “For him to go and speak to [consumers] is hugely valuable. Nobody can tell the story better than Oscar.”
De la Renta agreed. “What is different is our business is a family business. I am so passionately still very much involved in it.”
Liz Rodbell, executive vice president of merchandising for Lord & Taylor, said part of the brand’s appeal is the power of the automatic fan base. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Lord & Taylor as Oscar is such an icon in the industry,” said Rodbell. “This fragrance emotes who Oscar is and will resonate with many of our consumers as well as bring new ones into our doors.”