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The men’s wear shows may have ended in Paris last week but in one area at least men are still getting most of the attention: fragrance.
In the third quarter of 2010, there was a startling rise in men’s fragrance launches, with sales generating 30 per cent more volume than in 2009. And men’s “juices” (the industry term for fragrance as opposed to, say, body sprays, which are called “ancillaries”) have posted five months of consecutive increases. In scent, where the men’s prestige fragrance market accounts for one-third of all fragrance sales, 2011 is shaping up to be the Year of the Man.
Both women’s and men’s prestige fragrance categories have grown 30 per cent at Lane Crawford, China’s designer emporium. Hermès’s Terre d’Hermès (£49.50) alone saw a 19 per cent increase in sales in 2010. Howard Kreitzman, vice-president of cosmetics and fragrance at New York’s Bloomingdale’s, cites Bleu de Chanel (£43) and Bulgari Man (£58) as among its bestsellers, noting the former was the store’s biggest men’s fragrance premiere in history. With Bleu de Chanel, the brand’s fragrance business now has 10 per cent of the market. In London, Marc Jacobs’ scent, Bang (£40), was Harvey Nichols’ most successful men’s fragrance launch to date.
David Walker-Smith, the beauty director at Selfridges, forecasts a 20 per cent rise in men’s fragrance sales in 2011. “Brands have become more aware of the shopping habits of the male customer, who is moving towards niche, luxury fragrances,” he says.
Since 2008, more men have been buying fragrance for themselves than those receiving it as a gift. Many of the new scents are in the woody or woody-oriental families and there has been an explosion of distinctive packaging from designer names. The One Gentleman (£42), Dolce & Gabbana’s best-selling fragrance in the US, features a simple, bottle with antique gold lettering. Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Essenza (£48) is a modern update of the original 1916 scent, with an ad campaign shot by Giovanni Gastel. The art deco bottle has been “dressed up” in a masculine black glass “tuxedo”.
Then there’s Ralph Lauren’s Big Pony collection (£35): four fragrances targeted at a younger audience. “Young people like to have choice,” says Guillaume de Lesquen, worldwide president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances. “So by presenting four options – blue for sport, red for seduction, green for adventure and orange for style – young men are able to choose which area of life they most aspire to.” The quartet sold out in Dubai, and was Malaysia’s best fragrance launch in history.
By contrast, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Midnight in Paris (£45), launched last September and its first new men’s scent in more than 20 years, is aimed at men aged 30 and above. “Van Cleef & Arpels is not necessarily the house you buy your first piece of jewellery at,” says Nicolas Bos, president and chief executive for the Americas and the brand’s creative director. “Historically, it has been quite the house for connoisseurs.” Thus the scent, as with the house’s Perlée men’s timepiece, whose face depicts the Paris night sky, conjures a dark, masculine fragrance.
Christine Dagousset, the executive vice-president of Chanel fragrance and beauty in the US, says: “The vast majority of American men wear fragrance, so there’s still a huge appeal for fragrances.” In other words, don’t expect this trend to change any time soon.