In September, before autumn began to embrace Manhattan, fragrance veteran and brand expert, Veronique Gabai, began to build publicity for her newly-launched, eponymous line of fragrances to be sold at Barneys New York on Madison Avenue, complete with a corner counter and modest square footage. It was in October when CEW Beauty News visited the space and was taken on a fragrance journey, learning how scents were crafted to transport users to the Côte d’Azur in Antibes, Veronique’s hometown, and how raw materials from there scented each juice. Within a month, however, Veronique needed to pivot: Barneys New York had been sold and would be closing forever. Veronique, who has been developing fragrances and beauty products for more than 20 years—12 years were spent at The Estée Lauder Cos. as the Global President of Aramis and Designers Fragrances, Beauty Bank and Idea Bank, said that while news of Barneys’ fallout “certainly was a bump in the road, it is not a stop in my journey by any means.” Here, Veronique talks about her fragrance line and what’s planned for 2020.
CEW: Where will products be sold now that Barneys is no more?
VB: We are preparing our U.S. roll out for spring, and are in talks with a number of select retailers. We will be expanding internationally, beyond the U.K., including Russia, the Middle East and France, and we continue on ecommerce at veroniquegabai.com. We are also partnering with Net-a-Porter, and more, in the coming year. It is very sad to see the end of such a beautiful store.
CEW Beauty News: How do you see users engaging with the line?
Veronique Gabai: Two of the fragrances, Eau du Jour and Eau de la Nuit, can be worn alone or applied on top of any of the signature fragrances as a booster. All of the fragrances are part luminosity, part mystery. It’s very sensual on skin, and can be built to be light or heavy, allowing people to create their own signature. There are also body products. La Crème ($100), for example, is a moisturizing formula designed to provide eight hours of moisturization. It’s highly concentrated in fragrance and enriched with rose water.
CEW Beauty News: What element about the line are you proud of in particular?
VB: I had a two year noncompete. So during that two years I thought about how I would make my own line and what qualities it would have. When designing this, I wanted objects that were travel-friendly. I’ve been traveling all my life, and frankly I didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t have my favorite scents with me on airplanes. So, we have an 85-ml refillable bottle that women can keep in their purse, and a 10-ml travel case and 10-ml refills. The line also includes charms and jewelry, which were created by a master jeweler so women can have a fashion accessory and fragrance at the same time. They are available in sterling silver or 18K gold plated. All scents sell for $290 per 2.85-oz bottle. A Flacon de Sac, a chic travel case carrying a 10-ml spray bottle, sells for $150. The jewelry costs a bit more. The sterling silver pendant is $850. The 18K gold plated pendant is $990.
CEW Beauty News: Talk about some of the scents in the collection.
VB: Eau du Jour has a blend of citrus, and the scent lasts all day. Lumière d’Iris, features iris, and what makes it special is that the iris root has to be removed and dried for few years to develop the characteristic scent; that’s what makes it so expensive. Vert Desir is like fresh leaves crushed in the hands, with a splash of fresh water infused with herb, mint, absinth and a contrast of vetiver and dark sexy woods. Mimosa in the Air features the very delicate mimosa flower that starts blooming in February and turns the entire garden yellow. Jasmin de Minuit has the pure jasmine flower, which only blooms at night. Sur la Plage is meant to evoke the beach. Cap d’Antibes is inspired by pine trees that are in the south of France. They have a very resilient smell and when you touch it, your fingers are left scented, so that’s what I wanted to recreate. Noire de Mai utilizes a very precious rose, which has a deep scent, and has become a best seller. Souvenirs de Tunisie is based on orange blossoms in Tunisia, where my parents are both from, so I wanted to pay homage to them. Sexy Garrigue is very aromatic and based on the heat wave coming from the Mediterranean forest. Finally, Eau de la Nuit is a very musky, woody fragrance.
CEW Beauty News: How are ingredients sourced and how do you respond to questions about the line being clean?
VB: The line is not organic but it is very conscious of the environment. The ingredients are sourced ethically. The bulk comes from the South of France. The factory that manufacturers the fragrances and the body products is also a very clean factory. The factory is so clean that the fields around it grows poppies, so when you come in the spring and see these field of poppies, it’s absolute extraordinary. And we have beehives and bees can’t grow if they are not in a clean environment. And so, I always joke we do have the best of nature. The fragrances are filled with naturals and that’s very essential for skin, because it lives and breathes with you so it is very important. And, there’s the re-usability of every piece that I’m doing. Everything is paraben and phthalate free, and are products all vegan.
CEW Beauty News: Will there be any items outside of fragrance and lotion?
VB: A Sunshine Face Oil ($139) contains a blend of natural oils for hydration and firming benefits, as well as fermented Shiunko Oil to brighten skin. There’s also the Goldie Highlighter ($90), a transparent and emollient formula. When I worked in beauty I always used gold pigments under my makeup, so I wanted something that could easily be applied to the chest, face, wherever. And the reason why I did it transparently, is because I want all skin to be able to wear it. And then there’s Sun-kissed Lip Finish ($39) which is infused with golden pearls and can be used alone or as a shine finisher to any lipstick.