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"NEW YORK — Donna Karan plans to mix things up at fragrance counters this
That's when Karan and her fragrance licensee, the Estée Lauder Cos., will
launch Donna Karan Essence, a collection of four single-note fragrance oils
intended to allow women to "be their own perfumers," said Veronique Gabai-
Pinsky, senior vice president and general manager of Donna Karan Cosmetics.
Karan says this latest project goes to the essence of her personality.
"These are the oils that are close to my heart," she told WWD during a recent
phone interview about the collection, calling nature "the world's best
"I love oils — I'm oil-obsessed," Karan said. "I really do think oils are the
purest essences there are — unspoiled, untainted, luxurious."
For the first Essence collection, Karan chose two notes that are probably
familiar to consumers — lavender and jasmine — and two that probably aren't,
wenge and labdanum.
Wenge, a dark African wood with a spicy scent, is Karan's favorite wood;
since it isn't distilled for fragrances, it has been recreated in the
fragrance labs, noted Trudi Loren, vice president of corporate fragrance
development worldwide for Donna Karan Cosmetics. Labdanum is a wild shrub
found in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea; the resin of the plant,
which is used in this fragrance, is a deep, intense scent, she added.
"I'd love to keep adding to the line, but this was the group that I had to
start with," said Karan. "First of all, I am wenge-obsessed. It's such a
wonderful, warm, spicy scent. It takes you on a journey to Africa, just by
smelling it. I have furniture made of it all over the place. Lavender is so
calming, and I love the color. Jasmine — there isn't a person in the world
who doesn't love it. It's intoxicating. And labdanum is so grounding and
The Essence collection will be sold in several ways: as singular oils, eaux
de toilette sprays, body lotions and candles, and also as a set of the four
essences. Karan noted that the oils are particularly versatile: "You can use
them in the bath or a steam shower, rub them on your wrists or layer a couple
of them on your body," she said. "I play with them all the time — there are
so many ways to use them."
The oils, each packaged in an amber glass vial enclosed in a leather necklace
pouch, are $90 for 0.25 oz. The eaux de toilette are each $165 for 3.3 oz.,
while the body lotions are $55 for 6.7 oz. Candles are $95 each, and the
Essential Oil set is $185 for four 0.25-oz. vials.
In the U.S., the Donna Karan Essence lineup will be available in October at
Neiman Marcus and Donna Karan freestanding stores. At launch, the brand will
be in under 50 specialty store doors. While none of the executives would
discuss sales targets or advertising and promotional spending, industry
sources estimated that the line would do about $500,000 at retail in its
first year on counter. In-store sampling and co-op advertising are planned,
added Diane Kim, vice president of global marketing for Donna Karan
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