Armani Writes a New Code
By Matthew W. Evans

NEW YORK — Giorgio Armani Parfums, a perennial leader in the men's fragrance category, wants to break into the top tier in the women's market with the introduction of Armani Code for Women this spring.

The new scent is the feminine counterpart to Armani Code, a men's scent Giorgio Armani Parfums first introduced in France in 2004, then in the U.S. last February. The firm is looking to build on the strength of Code for Men with the women's scent, which is set to be launched in the U.S. and Europe in March and April.

Code for Men reportedly passed the $50 million mark in retail sales volume in the U.S. last month. It's the number-two fragrance in U.S. department stores after another Armani scent, brother brand Acqua di Giò for Men — the number-one men's fragrance worldwide, according to Giorgio Armani Parfums, a unit of French giant L'Oréal.

It's been "way beyond our expectations," Jack Wiswall, president of the Designer Fragrance Division of L'Oréal USA, said of Code for Men. "Now, we're going to embark on the women's side of the equation. The objective is really to [establish] the first Armani pillar in the top five [women's] ranking," he asserted.

"We think we have a shot at it; we think we have the right project here," added Serge Jureidini, general manager of Giorgio Armani Parfums and Cosmetics. As reported, Jureidini is to succeed Wiswall, who is retiring this year.

Renaud de Lesquen, international general manager of Giorgio Armani Parfums et Cosmetiques, acknowledged, "So far on the women's side, we haven't been as successful as we have been with [men's]." But, he added, during a telephone interview from his office in Paris, "It's time to take on a new challenge with a feminine introduction."

He said that on a worldwide basis, Giorgio Armani Parfums is aiming for a top 10 ranking in women's. "It's a long-term strategy," said de Lesquen. "We'll take time to build."

Industry sources estimated Code for Women could generate $40 million in first-year retail sales in the U.S. It will be launched in 2,200 doors in the U.S. in late March and early April. Globally, the scent will be rolled out to between 12,000 and 15,000 Giorgio Armani Parfums doors, including locations in Asia and in the U.K. in the second half, de Lesquen noted.

While Giorgio Armani Parfums markets women's scents under the Sensi, Mania and Acqua di Giò brands, none rank in the top 20 in the U.S., according to sources.

"[Code for Women] is an opportunity to leverage the success of Armani Code [for Men] by introducing a women's counterpart," said Alexandra Papazian, director of marketing for Giorgio Armani Fragrances. "Its all about sophistication, sexiness and glamour."

Code for Women has top notes of orange, a heart of orange blossom and jasmine and a drydown of vanilla and honey. Carlos Benaim, vice president and senior perfumer at International Flavors & Fragrances, blended the scent over an 18-month period along with Dominique Ropion, senior perfumer at IFF, and IFF perfumer Olivier Polge.

Orange "has Mediterranean freshness [reminiscent] of the south of Italy," said Benaim. Ingredients like orange flower and blood orange came from Africa and Italy, respectively, he noted, adding the perfumers also focused on "Oriental aspects of honey and vanilla. This Oriental motif works with the freshness of orange," said Benaim. Code for Women is "not just a [floral], this is a complete perfume with a lot of sexiness."

A dress designed by Giorgio Armani inspired the tall, cylindrical bottle's floral graphics. Also, the glass is colored with Armani's black sapphire motif.

The Code for Women collection includes eaux de parfum in 75-ml., 50-ml. and 30-ml. versions priced at $72.50, $52.50 and $38 in the U.S., respectively. A 200-ml. body lotion, for $39.50, and a 200-ml. shower gel, for $35, will accompany the fragrance.

Some 60 million scented impressions will be disseminated as part of a reported $15 million advertising and promotional program for Code for Women in the U.S. The effort is to include a $5 million print ad campaign that will break in the April issues of 20 magazines. The visual, featuring models Mini Anden and Enrique Palacios, was shot by Steven Klein.

While TV spots are not immediately planned in the U.S., they are part of the international strategy. "The story is about a femme fatale entering the scene in a kind of private party," said de Lesquen. "She's a sophisticated, straightforward woman who knows what she wants."