EXCLUSIVE: Jean Paul Gaultier Launching Scandal Men’s Scent

PARIS — Jean Paul Gaultier is poised to launch its first men’s scent since Puig took the perfume label in house in 2016. It comes at a time when the brand has strong momentum in fragrance and fashion.

Last year Gaultier kicked off a strategy in which the fashion house invites a different designer each season. The first collection, for which five designers were charged with reinterpreting the brand’s codes for a collection called Les Marins — nodding vigorously to Gaultier’s penchant for sailor stripes — dropped on May 28. Within three days, the garments were sold out.

“It brings a new energy to the brand, [while] keeping the strong DNA,” said Vincent Thilloy, chief brand officer for Paco Rabanne and Jean Paul Gaultier at Puig.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many brands to reinvent themselves.

“You have to rethink everything you’re doing,” said Thilloy. “It’s a really big opportunity to start new things, for innovations.”

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Already between 2016 and 2019, the Gaultier fragrance brand gained nine ranks worldwide. In Europe, it climbed three positions and now figures among the top 10. Meanwhile, in Latin America, the brand rose 12 notches.

Part of what spurred this was Puig having reworked and relaunched Gaultier’s iconic Le Male and Classique scents, for men and women, respectively.

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“We completely rejuvenated this franchise, and it was a perfect time for us to come with something new, because Le Male is top five in Europe, top three in France, top five in the U.K. and top three now in Germany,” said Thilloy. The scent figures in the top nine in Brazil.

Gaultier launched the Scandal women’s scent in June 2017, and starting this month, Scandal for men will be introduced with the objective of it entering among the top 10.

“It’s the perfect moment to launch a new product in a very strong territory,” said Thilloy, referring to the world of boxing, which is a fixture in the Gaultier universe. For his fall 2010 men’s ready-to-wear show, for instance, the brand was in fighting form and the fashion show came not only replete with a boxing ring, but also models sporting boxing gloves.

“The brand works with a lot of strong archetypes,” said Thilloy. And their codes then inform the products.

Scandal’s heavy glass refillable scent bottle, which is almost square like a boxing ring, comes topped with a red-and-gold-colored crown, resembling a boxing champion’s. The scent’s outer packaging is dressed in red velvet, winking to boxing trunks.

Advertising for Scandal, which was directed by Jonas Lindstroem, features Parker Van Noord and Imaan Hammam. It was lensed in the same venue — Gaultier’s Paris headquarters’ sweeping central hall — as the boxing-themed show was held more than one decade ago.

The spot opens with Van Noord striding into the room wearing a crown and red cape, which he dramatically sheds. The hall is crowded with many an iconic Gaultier muse, including Rossy de Palma and Anna Cleveland, when Hammam and her posse stride in. Van Noord starts to hit a punching bag, which she ends up standing behind.

The sport is now seduction. Van Noord and Hammam catch each other’s eye and make off to another room. Their passion causes the walls to crack and the Eiffel Tower to shake, to the horror of onlookers. The last shot is of Van Noord back in the ring, against the ropes, wearing a champion’s belt.

“We play with the codes with suggestive elements,” said Thilloy.

Givaudan perfumers Quentin Bisch, Christophe Raynaud and Nathalie Cetto conceived the Scandal woody oriental scent. It has top notes of sage and the entire mandarin fruit, including pulp and seeds; heart notes of tonka bean, and base notes of vetiver and freshly cut wood.

The Scandal scent will launch on June 21 in France, followed by Germany and the U.K. in August, and then the rest of the world, save for the U.S., in September and October.

Retail prices range from 76 euros for the 50-ml. eau de toilette to 120 euros for the 150-ml. version. A 200-ml. refill goes for 125 euros.

Puig executives would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Scandal will generate 80 million euros in retail sales during its first year on counter.

For Scandal, Gaultier’s heritage was mined then brought into the present.

“There is a sort of continuity,” said Thilloy. “There is no rupture between the history and today. Yesterday is still today.”

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