Rebecca Minkoff Expands Into Beauty With The Launch Of Her First Fragrance

Alma L. Figueroa

Even though Rebecca Minkoff spends most of her time at home while the pandemic rages on, she still dabs on her fragrance in the morning, along with the rest of her beauty routine. That’s why she still decided to forge ahead with the launch of her very first fragrance, Rebecca Minkoff Eau de Parfum, which was a year in the making, out today. “There was conversation when the pandemic hit of do we delay,” Minkoff says. “But we chose to proceed as planned and celebrate this moment of it being ready and it smelling amazing. I’m of the mindset that business, people in business and companies are essential right now. We could all just all pull back and then there would be no economy left from the fragile one that exists right now. People have not stopped wearing fragrance. It’s something that we know our customer wants and is excited about. We have to get more creative about how it’s being sold, as some stores aren’t open, [but] we really just felt it was fine to launch.”

Minkoff partnered with The Premiere Group on her Rebecca Minkoff Eau de Parfum, which captures her signature feminine with an edge aesthetic in a scent. “I wanted to balance this hard/soft idea that exists within our brand,” Minkoff says. “Growing up, we had these jasmine plants; I always loved the smell of those at night before bed.” Another favorite scent she wanted to integrate was leather, such as the smell of the inside of a new leather purse or her days inhaling the scent on 39th street in New York City’s fashion district. The perfume balances the femininity of jasmine with the warmth of leather. “I hate it when someone walks in the room and you smell the scent before them,” Minkoff says. “I never want the smell to come before the woman.” The final blend of her signature scent has top notes of cardamom essence, coriander seeds essence and bergamot; a heart of tobacco accord, jasmine absolute and karmaflor; and a base of tonka, labdanum resin and patchouli essence.

Creating the fragrance mindfully was always a priority for Minkoff, as she had the health of people and the planet in mind every step of the way. “I didn’t want to wear something that you breathe in that might be toxic, as most fragrances are,” Minkoff says. “I really wanted to approach it being mindful of what we’re putting in our bodies, not only for ourselves, but for our children. I want this to be the healthiest, cleanest version. I don’t want anything on my body that’s going to be toxic; I know that my customer doesn’t. We really worked hard to mitigate as many harmful things about it as we could. Also, if I cannot contribute more waste to the environment, that something that’s very important to me as well. How do we build something from the ground up that has PEFC certified paper, compostable cello wrap, recycled glass, recycled plastic and a refill program? Let’s just unpack this so we’re not continuing to be what is a huge problem, especially for something like a fragrance which people are likely to use and throw out the packaging when they’re done.”

The perfume is vegan, gluten-free, phosphate-free and manufactured without animal testing. The Rebecca Minkoff Eau de Parfum collection includes three sizes — 100 ml EDP, 30 ml EDP and a 14 ml travel spray — and two of the sizes are refillable. The reusable, modern bottle was designed with Chad Lavigne, made of 100% recyclable scalloped glass and meant to evoke the aesthetic of her fashion and accessories. “I kept wanting to ride the line of hard and soft,” Minkoff says. “What are the brand codes that exist within Rebecca Minkoff that might be recognizable? The fluting on the bottle is reminiscent of some of our best-selling quilted bags and since that is more feminine how do you give it that hard feeling with the cap? We are known for our bags, so how do you integrate that? That’s where the leather stopper came from. I also wanted something you were proud to keep in your bathroom, that you were excited to see every day.”

Making sure that the fragrance was just right for her customer was also important to Minkoff. “I did a lot of focus groups back when you could still meet with people to make sure she was along for the ride and she really had a hand in helping me choose it,” she says. After going back and forth with the perfumers, Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Linda Song of Givaudan, and narrowing it down to five scents, Minkoff brought it to focus groups and all of her employees also voted. It was a close race, so the runner up will be the second scent, which will be released sometime next year. Minkoff plans to have a larger expansion into beauty in the near future, beyond fragrance. She’s considering other categories as well; home and ingestibles are on her potential list. She’s also in the middle of writing a book that will come out next summer. “The book is breaking down 15 years of hard-won life lessons and transitioning that into advice,” Minkoff says. “You’re going to get the anecdotal stories but you’ll also get advice that doesn’t have to be fashion, that can just apply to life. That’s the direction it’s taking.”

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Rebecca Minkoff brand. “Every time I say 15 years I can’t believe it because in some ways it feels like 30 years and in some ways it feels like we’re just getting started,” she says. Her proudest accomplishment so far is still being in business and taking a stance. “The brand stands for more than just accessories,” Minkoff says. “I think that the customer has a very clear idea about the brand values, what I and we believe in and what’s right, whether it’s women’s equality or the promotion of and celebrating of female entrepreneurs and leaders. Talking about previous launches, whether it be about extended sizing or inclusivity, I think that where some people have to take stands because it’s the “right thing to do,” my customer trusts us and how we’ve navigated existing not because it’s the right thing to do, but because we’re showing a human side to a brand. I don’t think very often brands get to show humans.”

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