BPI’s Rémy Gomez explains why all eyes are on Azzedine Alaïa

We met Alaïa a while ago, and started talking. And little by little, the chemistry and the alchemy worked.
Rémy Gomez
Beauté Prestige International

Beauté Prestige International (BPI) is about to embark on the next stage of its corporate fragrance odyssey, via a licensing agreement with fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa. It was announced yesterday that the two parties had signed a long-term deal for the creation, manufacture and worldwide distribution of fragrances and cosmetics under the Azzedine Alaïa brand.

“Alaïa had been thinking about fragrance for a long time,” BPI’s CEO Rémy Gomez reveals, in an exclusive interview with The Moodie Report, “because it’s a natural craft to [consider]. But until now he had never found the right people on whom he could rely enough to make a co-creation. For that, you need real, deep-rooted expertise, because it’s totally different from fashion, from both a creative and distribution standpoint.”

He continues: “We met him a while ago, and started talking. And little by little, the chemistry and the alchemy worked. We developed trust”¦Of course we share the same values, which obviously helps, but in this case it was more than that. Ultimately Alaïa really wanted to undertake this enterprise with us.”

Alaïa, revered yet reclusive by the standards of the fashion world, has always marched to the beat of his own drum, a characteristic that imbues BPI too. Yet in 2007, Alaïa sold a stake in his fashion empire to luxury goods group Richemont, whom Gomez admires very much for the way in which they nurture their brands. “They are big, but they have a strong philosophy, and true ethics in terms of creation and long-term thinking, which is not always the case,” he notes. “It’s an area that differentiates them from others operating in the same field.”

The same could be said for BPI, in terms of the way in which it has managed to establish, from scratch, a flourishing fragrance business that perfectly encapsulates the individual DNA of each of its very different fashion brands. What, then, can the world expect from the new Azzedine Alaïa alliance? And what is the proposed time-scale?

“That’s difficult to answer, because although we have entered his world, we are still looking in from the outside,” Gomez responds. “We are just starting. But generally, these things take about two years before they hit the market. We are shooting for a launch in 2015, not before.”

Gomez is frank about the rigours of creating a new designer fragrance. “We will have some fights and roadblocks on some issues, and also some very rapid momentum on others,” he admits. “You can’t ever predict for sure how the chemistry will work, but we wouldn’t have signed if we didn’t know it would. Alaïa’s been on this road and has been talking to various people about fragrance for probably 10 years now. There will be disappointments and discussions but we will find solutions and other ways of looking at the issues. That’s how we work. But it does take time.”

Alaïa had been thinking about fragrance for a long time, because it’s a natural craft to [consider]. But until now he had never found the right people on whom he could rely enough to make a co-creation.
Rémy Gomez
Beauté Prestige International

Gomez underlines how supportive BPI’s existing brands have been about the latest partnership. The present portfolio comprises Issey Miyake, Narciso Rodriguez, Elie Saab and Jean Paul Gaultier – although that latter licence is set to expire in 2016, following the acquisition in May 2011 of Gaultier by Spanish fashion-to-fragrances house Puig.

“Before we went public I talked with Issey, Narciso and Elie, and I announced it to Gaultier too,” Gomez confirms. “The respect these guys have for Azzedine is absolutely incredible. Their reaction was so positive and so strong. Azzedine Alaïa is fantastic name, brand and territory of expression.”

The BPI portfolio is simultaneously eclectic and complementary. Azzedine Alaïa, though very different from the existing brands, appears to be another great fit. “Exactly,” Gomez agrees. “There is a connection of sorts between Alaïa and our other brands, although their style, their way of working and their ideal woman is totally, totally different.”

But Gomez is keen to underline that, despite its impending licence expiration, it continues to be business as usual for BPI and Gaultier. “We don’t have any intention of dropping the ball before 2016,” he emphasises, “for structural, strategic and credibility reasons. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with Puig, and after all, it’s in the interests of everyone to work together. [Vice-Chairman] Manuel Puig is very pragmatic and very smart. So from that standpoint it works very well.”

There had been speculation, of course, about potential new brand signings in the wake of the Gaultier loss, but few would have foreseen Azzedine Alaïa as the next big name. BPI has surprised many in the past with its choice of partnerships – and even more so, perhaps, with the success it has achieved with them.

“I have no doubt that the chemistry [between us] will work,” Gomez concludes. “Of course only time will tell, but I am convinced this this partnership between BPI and Azzedine Alaïa will be yet another success.”

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