Louis Vuitton re-enters the beauty market after a 70 year absence

The brand’s quiet return to perfume has been shrouded in secrecy since 2011, when Louis Vuitton appointed Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud as its first in-house perfumer. Five years later, Louis Vuitton is launching its fragrances with an editorial photo series featuring French actress Léa Seydoux, slated to run exclusively in Harper’s Bazaar’s September issue.

The move comes on the heels of declining sales of its iconic handbags and serves as an attempt to bolster profit in advance of what analysts predict will be the weakest year of luxury sales since 2009, the result of a combination of fluctuations in the Chinese economy paired with terrorism attacks across Europe, Bloomberg reported.

The fragrance market looks to be more promising than handbags in the coming years.  It’s expected to grow between 3 and 4 percent annually through 2020, compared to just 2 percent for designer bags, according to data from Bain & Co.

The fragrances were developed at Louis Vutton’s new headquarters in Grasse, France, following the company’s 2013 purchase of Les Fountaines Parfumees, a perfumery with more than 350 types of plants and flowers. Michael Burke, Louis Vuiton’s chairman chief executive, told The New York Times that the five year lag between Cavallier-Belletrud’s appointment and the launch of the products was to take the time to avoid the pitfall of modern fragrances that are “far too mass and too marketed, lacking in personality.” In an effort to avoid this, the perfumes will be available only in Louis Vuitton stores.

Louis Vuitton will be rejoining an industry that has evolved into a $38 billion market. Cavallier-Belletrud told Harper’s Bazaar that he focused on a feminine floral scent, distilling 80 prototypes down to the final seven which will be available starting in September.

Louis Vuitton new fragrances