A LONG JOURNEY TO THE FINAL PRODUCT
It took nine years before the concept became a reality. He was turned down by nine internatinoal fragrance companies with excuses ranging from 'it won't work' to 'the timing is wrong.' "The last question I would ask each was why they didn't want it," recalls Gregory.
The companies would respond by asking him why they would want a fragrance based on a diamond with a curse, to which he would say, "who wouldn't want to know more about it?"
He and his business partner, Charles Rapp, ended up investing in it themselves and contracted it to Quest International, which connected them with fragrance desinger, Claude Dir. He worked with Gregory for four years to develop the woodsy-floral-oriental scent. "I was picky,"says Gregory. "You have only one chance to do it right."
Gregory wanted a European fragrance with no synthetics. In order to help inspire Dir, Gregory gave him a poster of the Hope Diamond with the instruction to look at it everyday as if seeing it for the first time.
At the heart of the fragrance is Creme Brulee, a favorite of his great-grandmother, which gives a "caramel, enticing effect," says Gregory.
He contacted Marc Rosen to design the packaging for the product line, which includes eau de parfum and Perfumed Liquicreme. Each is capped with a crystal-faceted, indigo stone.
A FRAGRANCE BACKGROUND
Fable is not Greogy's first experience with the fragrance industry. The 35-year old has actually been involved in the business for 14 years. His first job was as a "model," a position now called fragrance consultant, for Caesar's Man at Dillard's. He dressed in a toga and brought in enough customers to get the attention of executives, which led to other fragrance jobs with Dillard's, Mercantile and Parfums Boucheron. His duties at his various job sincluded arranging special events, teaching people about the products and listening to the customers discuss what was wrong with the product. He ended up with journals on every line.
Gregory explains that he has always been told of the value of listening to people 75 of the time and talking 25 percent of the time. A lessto to which he still adheres.
THE MAKING OF A CLASSIC
Gregory believes Fable is a classic and is building the brand slowly and carefully. Sold at such stores as Bergdorg Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Sephora, Fable is at present available at 34 stores. Gregory plans to be in only 250 stores throughout the United States and Canada and turns down request from store buyers to sell in more places. "Companies have used and abused the word exclusivity," he says.
Gregory keeps true to his listening philosophy by personally calling store consultants and buyers to learn what can still be done and what can be improved.
He advertises the fragrance by partnering with the stores. Advertisements for it are included in catalogs and billing inserts. Customers who do buy the fragrance are mailed a hand-written thank-you note from Gregory who tells them he hopes they "cherish the unique blend of fragrance notes."
At personal appearances he shows off dress that belonged to his great-grandmother, a replica of the diamond and old photographs. Women, notes Gregory want the story behind it. They will be able to get all fo the story as well as photographs never before seen by the public in a biography, Queen of Diamonds, that he co-wrote with Rapp's sister, Carol. It is due out it September. A network mini-series is also being developed.
Rolling out this fall is the bath and shower gel of Fable. However, for those waiting for the men's version of the fragrance, it will be a while — until the fall of 2003, to be exact. Explains Gregory, "The product is in my heart, it is not a clothes company. We are not putting out proucts every 18 months. It took nine years for Fable."
The scent for men's Fable will include a middle note inspired by his great-grandfather, Edward Beale McLean. The packaging will feature the red color the Hope Diamond glows when light hits it.
Gregory also plans to introduce a home collection with a lighter scent and a bedding collection with linen, comforters and shams.
"This is not a one shot fragrance," he maintains.