Thomas du Pre de Saint Maur is the international marketing director for fragrances at Dior. He was recently in Hong Kong to promote the launch of Pure Poison.
Q: What's the rationale behind the launch?
A: We talked to a lot of women and looked at cultural and social trends, and we realised that people are willing to dream now more than ever. The movies that are doing well now - Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings - show this.
When we wanted to do a fragrance, we knew we already had a legend on our hands: Poison. It's a legend of seduction, and we felt it was time to re-activate the legend. We have a legend of seduction inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but it needs to be adapted to every period. That's how we've evolved from Poison to Tendre Poison to Hypnotic Poison, and now Pure Poison.
Seduction has changed since the 1980s when Poison was first launched. It's not as selfish any more. Now, it's like a game. A woman can be a high seductress but still have a pure heart. That's the message of Pure Poison.
Q: So you feel Pure Poison will be acceptable to more women than the original Poison?
A: The original Poison is our best-seller, so it's difficult to say. For the young audience that we're targeting we need to make the message more contemporary. It's now more positive: I'm a strong woman, I can play with seduction, but my intentions aren't bad. That's how women are today. If you listen to R&B and pop music, that's what the women are singing about.
Q: If Poison and Pure Poison were women what would they be like?
A: I think they'd be a mother and a daughter. I think the daughter would say: 'I love my mum. I still like to steal her high heels, but I don't want to end up divorced like her.' The mother is Joan Collins in Dynasty. The daughter is seductive but cool. There's not one girl who captures the entire essence of the daughter. She's a bit like Liv Tyler in The Lord of the Rings: pure and strong. But she's also a bit like Mary J. Blige and Milla Jovovich.
Q: How long has Pure Poison been in the making?
A: The project started two years ago. We knew we had to do a fragrance. There wasn't much rationale behind it. We arrived very quickly at the idea of a pure heart that's seductive. We also felt that we needed to give more depth to the idea of seduction. We didn't want to talk about seduction as if it was as simple as taking your top off.
Q: It's interesting you were able to perceive this two years ago. The return of more ladylike, less risque fashion has only started to hit the runways.
A: For fragrances, we need to be able to anticipate further in advance, and we need to have a more long-term vision - because it takes time to develop a fragrance, and we want the fragrance to have enough staying power to last for at least 10 years. That's why the story of seduction behind Poison is so powerful. Whether you look at ancient China, ancient Egypt, France in the 19th century or Japan, you will find tales of seduction.
Q: What's unique about the consumer in Hong Kong or Asia? And how do you feel Pure Poison is positioned to appeal?
A: Asians are different from Europeans in that they don't have a culture of using fragrance and use it much less than we do. It's difficult to talk about Asia because I think there's as much difference between a Korean and a Thai as there is between a French person and a German. Pure Poison is fresh, airy and soft, with floral notes, and Asians prefer light floral scents. The type of seduction Pure Poison embodies is sophisticated but easy, which Asian girls can handle and play with. And it represents European fantasy and high creativity, which Asians find attractive.