Introduction: Puig Chief Brand Officer for Paco Rabanne and Jean Paul Gaultier Vincent Thilloy talks to Hannah Tan-Gillies about how Paco Rabanne’s rebellious and creative spirit influenced Fame, the brand’s new women’s fragrance. He also discusses Fame’s major pop-up campaign with Heathrow, Dufry and JCDecaux and underlines travel retail’s value as a brand builder channel.
Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” an adage which has found particular resonance in the viral social media age. Fame, the new grand feminine fragrance from Paco Rabanne, is a playful homage to the concept of fame and the famous women that the fashion house has dressed over the decades.
“When you look back at the origins of Paco Rabanne, he was known for dressing the most fashionable women of the sixties from Jane Birkin and François Hardy to Brigitte Bardot,” comments Puig Chief Brand Officer for Paco Rabanne and Jean Paul Gaultier Vincent Thilloy who looks back on the heritage of Paco Rabanne and how this has inspired the new feminine fragrance pillar.
In the world of fragrances, Paco Rabanne has been an historically powerful player in the masculine category. “No other brand has three masculine fragrances in the top ten worldwide,” Thilloy says. “We launched 1 Million in 2008 and it is still in the 4th spot globally in the men’s category. We are already super strong in men’s fragrances and decided that now is the time to build up our women’s portfolio with this launch.”
Paco Rabanne’s avant-garde creations are as appealing today as they were in 1966 when he created the ‘Manifesto: 12 unwearable dresses in contemporary materials’ collection. The chain mail dress, 1969 metal bag and futuristic silhouettes of the house have returned to fashion world stronger than ever in 2022.
“The Paco Rabanne fashion house is having a zeitgeist and is growing rapidly,” Thilloy comments. “We want to leverage that momentum to emphasise our brand story and DNA. If we interlinked the worlds of Paco Rabanne fashion and beauty, I think it will do wonders for our brand equity.”
Fame is Paco Rabanne’s first standalone grand feminine launch. The woody, floral scent opens with sweet mango notes, blended with pure jasmine and creamy incense. “In every fragrance, Paco Rabanne always has a strong signature, bringing something new to the market. With 1 Million, Invictus, Olympia and Lady Million — we never followed the trend,” Thilloy notes.
Fame has a vegan formula and is made with 90% natural origin ingredients. Four acclaimed perfumers came together to create this grand feminine: Dora Baghriche, Marie Salamagne, Alberto Morillas and Fabrice Pellegrin.
According to Thilloy, Fame pays homage to the playful, sensual and feminine spirit of Paco Rabanne. “The idea for Fame started with blending mango and incense. It is easy to wear, fresh and sensual scent that blends new technologies with traditional harvesting techniques.
“The jasmine in Fame is hand harvested in Grasse and processed using a new micro-liquid technology that maximises the scent of the flower. It also contains Madagascan vanilla and Australian sandalwood where we replant the harvested trees. Finally, it has been infused with a 100% natural-origin, renewable and biodegradable Greenwood ingredient. These potent ingredients, sustainable processes and the magic of the four perfumers all come together to make this fragrance special.”
While having 90% natural-origin ingredients is impressive for any fragrance, according to Thilloy, the same level of naturalness is present across Paco Rabanne’s entire range. “All our portfolio is made with a minimum of 90% natural-origin ingredients. It’s not something we communicate, but we are very proud of that.”
Fame reimagines the Paco Rabanne Phantom bottle in a feminine light, foregoing silver for gold and dressing the playful flaçon in sunglasses and the signature Paco Rabanne chain mail dress. “We worked on the bottle as if it were a jewel,” Thilloy says. “We are innovative yet commercial. Our goal is to always bring something different to the market otherwise we wouldn’t launch something new. Creativity is in our DNA.”
Fame, according to Thilloy, represents Paco Rabanne’s rebellious spirit. “Paco Rabanne was very radical as designer. He was the first to bring black models on the runway in a major way and did a lot for the arts community back in the day.”
This spirit is reflected in the choice of brand ambassador, with Elle Fanning named as the face of Fame. “We chose Elle Fanning because she is a very interesting, inspiring and multi-faceted woman. She is a romantic, determined and extremely talented. She started acting when she was four years old. She has done Maleficent and Neon Demon among several other great films and she is only 27 years old. To that extent, she represents the Fame woman.”
Travel retail, particularly within the perfumes & cosmetics category, is ultra-competitive. Amid all the new feminine fragrances launched each year, how will Fame stand out?
“Fame brings something new to the market,” Thilloy responds. “If you are launching something like what others are doing, it’s better not to launch. This launch has a strong mix. The bottle is edgy and desirable, encapsulating the Paco Rabanne brand. The fragrance is a breakthrough in terms of perfumers, formulation and clean ingredients. The campaign, particularly in travel retail, is very attractive, engaging and dynamic, really highlighting the experience side of the brand.”
With such an exciting product, Thilloy has grand ambitions for Fame in travel retail and beyond. “Our goal for this launch is to be part of the top ten fragrances globally,” he says. “We are already selling three times more than Phantom and are already outperforming our targets. I’m confident it will perform well in travel retail.”
Notably, Fame isbeing pre-launched in travel retail, a testament to Puig and Paco Rabanne’s belief in the channel. The fragrance is being showcased with a dynamic pop-up campaign which kicked off at Heathrow Airport in a quaternity partnership with Puig, Heathrow, World Duty Free (Dufry) and JCDecaux.
The striking omnichannel animation takes centre-stage at the main atrium in Terminal 2 Departures. It features engaging retailtainment elements that include a virtual reality game, personalisation, and contactless fragrance discovery. The animation is supported by programmatic digital advertising and a high-profile digital screen media campaign that raises brand awareness and drives traffic to the pop-up.
“We are pre-launching the fragrance as a travel retail-exclusive for the month of July, before rolling out to other channels in August. Fame is a powerful way to communicate what Paco Rabanne is today. It creates a link between the fashion and beauty side, giving our customers the whole Paco Rabanne universe,” Thilloy says.
“For us, travel retail is just as important as the local market. Travel retail is a brand building channel. The airport is such a qualitative environment that it is a must that we have a presence there. The timing couldn’t have been better for the pre-launch. July captures peak summer traffic and so the Heathrow campaign gets so much mileage.”
For Thilloy, travel retail functions as both brand showcase and sales driver. “You cannot disconnect brand image to business,” he says. “It always goes together. This pop-up underlines the strong premiumisation of Paco Rabanne. We are a brand that resonates strongly with the Gen Z and fun and playful projects like this reinforce that messaging. Paco Rabanne has been revolutionary since the 1960s and it is our mission to communicate to consumers that they aren’t just buying a bottle or fragrance but buying a part of that history.”
On his long-term vision for the brand in travel retail, Thilloy says: “Paco Rabanne is currently number five worldwide. Our objective is to reach number four globally. This is challenging because the more you are near to the top the more challenging it will be. We want to make a blockbuster of this project. We have other big success within Puig – such as Carolina Herrera Good Girl and we can certainly see that trajectory for Fame too.”