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Holiday Fragrance Mania

By: Nancy C. Hayden
Posted: August 29, 2008, from the January 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

The fragrance elves were busy last year, resulting in the launch of 170 women’s and 70 men’s fragrances. Long gone are the months of developing that one creative statement to become a classic. Success instead becomes a twist, a flanker or a limited edition.

Throughout the holiday season, counters were brimming over with the latest introductions based on a famous designer or personality. How many of them were actually new and exciting? In reviewing launches for 2006, there are sequels to all of the designer fragrances. The trend seemed to have been started by Escada introducing a new spring or fall launch each year. This created a problem for consumers who fell in love with a fragrance but couldn’t find it a year later. It had been discontinued to make way for the next year’s launches. In the end, fragrance has followed fashion.

The industry works on the idea that consumers demand something new each year, something exciting, something different to keep them from becoming bored, and so must present classics in a different way. It is hard to create a new classic, so now there are sequels to the original classics. These sequels are called “flanker” fragrances and examples include Chanel Light, Coco and Coco Mademoiselle. If a name resonates with consumers at the counter, then by all means use it and give it a new defining adjective such as DKNY’s Be Delicious and Red Delicious. In other words, ride the coattails of the success of the classic.

Celebrity fragrances continue to target the mass market consumer and designers tend to launch in the prestige arena. Do we see some trends evolving, especially noticeable during the holiday buying season?

Annie Buzantian, one of Firmenich’s top perfumers and the creator of some of the most successful fragrance launches of the decade, says that this has obviously been the year of the chypre. However, the innovative twist has been with a definite gourmand note added to the chypre construction, according to Buzantian, and fragrances such as Euphoria, Lovely and Coco Mademoiselle have done extremely well utilizing this note.