NEW YORK — Acqua Di Parma looked to the opera to develop its most luxe fragrances to date. This story first appeared in the September 30, 2016 issue of WWD. The Note di Colonia collection, which will hit counters the second week of October, is a nod to renowned opera house Teatro Regio in Parma, Italy, where the brand was founded. Giovanni Lepori, general manager of Acqua di Parma in North America, compared each of the scents — Note di Colonia I, Note di Colonia II and Note di Colonia III — to a different symphony. He said the fragrances drew influence from operas such as “La Traviata,” “Turandot” and “Aida.”
Note di Colonia is Acqua di Parma’s sixth fragrance pillar — and its most expensive lineup to date. The range, which includes three scents to start, is priced $435 for a 150-ml. bottle. This is nearly three times the price of the brand’s average price point for fragrances from the existing collections, which can cost $152 for a similar size. The launch is part of Acqua di Parma’s 100th anniversary, which kicked off with a two-day event in Parma this past spring. Note di Colonia is one of two retail initiatives that the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned brand will roll out to celebrate its centennial.
“It’s a big jump — but it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” Lepori said. “The anniversary was the impetus to create something special and more elevated that will have select distribution.” He said the high-end group is more “complex and layered” — meeting the demand in the market for something different, both from a distribution and ingredient perspective. The bottles are based on Colonia, the original cologne bottles that brand put out in 1916, and will only be carried in five U.S. doors.
“They actually do change as you wear them. It’s like a vintage wine that opens up and the change tastes,” Lepori said. The brand also teamed up with Damiani for the anniversary to create limited-edition pieces of Colonia housed inside intricate, sterling silver casings. Each of the 100 pieces was handmade by the Italian jeweler and will retail for $1,105.
On a larger scale, Acqua di Parma has set its sights on the U.S. market, with plans to open freestanding stores and expand its women’s offerings. Currently, the U.S. makes up just 10 percent of the brand’s overall retail sales, according to Lepori, but he hopes the region will soon drive 30 percent of the business. With the brand growing double digits globally, Lepori said that the U.S. arm of the company should be a $100 million business in five years. Industry sources estimate that the brand will do about $100 million in global sales this year.
He intends to tackle retail first, starting with a boutique in Miami that is slated to open in December. New York will be the next location in 2017, with plans to open a few stores per year in key markets. Beyond its own stores, increasing penetration in existing wholesale doors, and not upping the door count, is priority. “We’ve starting doing shops-in-shops on the main fragrance floor, which is a departure from the brand. It’s usually in the men’s department,” Lepori said, noting that brand messaging will also reflect this. “There’s going to be a less concerted effort to show a man or woman [in branded material]…It will be converged into something a bit more genderless, not marketing specifically to a man or a woman.”
He added that a focus on the women’s business is key too, as the historically men’s and now unisex brand, is carefully building an exclusively women’s range of fragrances. Earlier this month, Peonia Nobile, the fifth scent in Acqua di Parma’s Le Nobili women’s collection hit counters. In the past couple of years, Le Nobili has helped the women’s business double, jumping to about 30 percent of sales. “Strategically, launches like this are important for us to get women to discover our products,” Lepori said, adding that the goal is to have sales evenly split between men’s and women’s fragrances.