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EXCLUSIVE: Mugler Is Launching Alien Hypersense and a New Concept Store in China

PARIS — For Mugler, 2024 will be a banner year.

The brand turns 50 and is entering China with a new retail concept mixing fragrance and fashion. It is also launching Alien Hypersense, the fragrance fronted by model Anok Yai.

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“We rejuvenated Angel last year, so it was time for Alien,” Danièle Lahana-Aidenbaum, global president of Mugler Fashion, told WWD in an exclusive interview.

Alien, the women’s scent introduced in 2005, has become Mugler’s largest fragrance franchise. In 2023, it ranked 12th among women’s scents in Europe, where the fragrance comes in seventh in the U.K. and Germany, and eighth in Italy, according to The NPD Group.

“Alien — like all our juices — is very addictive,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum, explaining the idea was to make a bold move for Alien with a new perfume and communication platform.

For Alien Hypersense, the scent’s bottle remains in a talisman form and keeps its original purple hue, but with added tinges of ultraviolet red and orange.

Mugler Alien Hypersense
Mugler Alien Hypersense

For the fragrance, IFF master perfumer Dominique Ropion, who created Alien’s juice, was asked: “If you were to redo Alien’s juice, how would you do it?” Ropion chose to blend an overdose of white flowers notes with a cashmeran, woody signature.

“It blooms really strongly on the skin,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum.

Yai, who is close to Mugler fashion, opening its runway show in January 2023 and closing its catwalk display in September, was signed on to embody Alien Hypersense by Mugler creative director Casey Cadwallader and the beauty team.

“We love Anok. She’s a very strong force, a very diverse beauty,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum.

Alien is about the beauty of being different. Its new campaign was created with Baron & Baron, Cadwallader and his Mugler team, alongside Daniel Sannwald.

“We wanted to have Anok completely transformed once she has this Alien Hypersense [fragrance] revealing all her senses,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum. “Yai’s hair and nails grow, and she becomes something fierce ready to grasp the world. The tag line is: She’s coming for you.”

The spot is set to Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction.”

Product prices range from $89 for the 30-ml. eau de parfum to $180 for the 90-ml. version.

Lahana-Aidenbaum would not discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimate Alien Hypersense will generate 70 million euros in first-year retail sales.

It will launch first in Europe in mid-February, then in the U.S. in April.

“I think the brand can grow for many reasons,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum. “First, today we are very big in Europe, but still small in other territories.”

That’s true for the U.S., travel retail and China, where a launch is imminent. “We are getting bigger in southeast Asia,” she continued.

In Shanghai, around the end of March, Mugler will open a 430-square-foot pop-up concept store mixing fashion and fragrance in the high-end Réel department store.

There, Mugler will relaunch six perfumes from its high-end collection Les Exceptions, first out in 2014. They come with imagery featuring ingredients morphing into creatures, which the Mugler team calls “the chimeras.”

The brand awareness is currently low in China, but the “cool kids” adore Mugler there, according to Lahana-Aidenbaum.

“There is a target in China that really loves the DNA and fierceness of the brand,” she said. “We saw that a good way to open fragrances [there] was to use the power of fashion.

“We are testing and learning. China is a very competitive market,” continued Lahana-Aidenbaum. “We believe very strongly in the power of fashion next to fragrances.”

Other such concept stores could follow suit before Mugler goes digital in the country.

Lahana-Aidenbaum believes steadfastly in the men’s category for fashion and fragrance, as well.

In January, Mugler presented buyers with its new men’s fashion collection. The fall 2024 line will be in the brand’s next show, taking place on March 3 in Paris.

“We also launched shoes and small leather goods,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum. “We see that Mugler has a very strong appeal to men.”

So the brand will relaunch the Amen masculine fragrance in the summer.

She called 2023 a turning point for Mugler, saying: “It was the most ‘one Mugler’ ever, because fashion and fragrances danced together the whole year, and both did many great things.”

From Mugler’s fashion show.
From Mugler’s fashion show.

There was the rejuvenation of the Angel scent franchise, with the debut of Angel Elixir, fronted by Hunter Schafer.

“She’s our angel,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum, adding the launch helped the Angel franchise gain rankings in France, its core country. In Europe, Angel placed 14th and grew four times faster than the market.

“We still want to grow faster in the U.S.,” she continued. “But we know it will take a bit more time because Angel has always been a polarizing fragrance.”

Lahana-Aidenbaum also called 2023 “a very big year for fashion.” Mugler went back on a regular show calendar, rather than taking a see now, buy now approach, and staged a display in October 2023. It opted to develop and sell four collections per year, including two new pre-collections.

Mugler collaborated with H&M, too. “That was a huge success,” she said. Lines formed outside stores and searches on Google Trends and Instagram peaked when the fashion was released.

“I’m quite sure it did raise awareness,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum. “We know that our awareness is very high in historical markets, such as France. It’s growing fast in the U.K., which is also a big market for us.”

It is growing in the U.S., too, but not as quickly.

Overall, the fashion brand has been logging double- and triple-digit growth rates over the past few years and counts around 150 retail partners.

Mugler’s NFTs were all sold out within a minute of launch.

Sales of the brand’s handbags — especially its black and the black-and-denim ones — are picking up the pace.

“We are extending the collection by launching new bags,” said Lahana-Aidenbaum. Some are bigger, and there’s a reinterpretation of one of the house’s historic bags, called the Zenith, with a star at the center.

Mugler was born in 1974.

“It’s a big year for us,” she said, of 2024, the brand’s 50th birthday year. “For sure we will celebrate, because Mugler is about joy and celebration.”

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