Allied Domecq Moves Into Cognac Couture

17 February 2004

Linking social-climbing brands to the high-glitz world of haut couture is nothing new. Brand-sponsored fashion shows these days are … well, frankly so démodé darlings.

But lusty 170-year old French cognac Courvoisier has no qualms about storming the battlements of the fashion fortress this Friday with its very own couture collection -- Atelier Courvoisier -- staged in New York's bastion of the dernier cri, SoHo.

Allied Domecq, the world's second-largest liquor purveyor, will present the brand's very first fall collection, featuring some two dozen items of 'luxury sportswear' for men, women and androgynous in-betweens.

Allied believes the Courvoisier clobber will fetch top dollar ... a deerskin trench coat at $10,000 … a purse, made with silk ribbons and replica medallions from the Napoleonic era, $750; and a host of other overpriced schmutter offered at several dozen times the cost of a bottle of Courvoisier, $26.

Allied is projecting first-year sales of $1.5 million to $3 million for the line. But the real marketing goal is to transmogrify Courvoisier from liquor label to lifestyle brand.

"The question for us was, 'How do you improve the value of the] trademark?' " rhetorically asked Allied's chief marketing officer Kim Manley. If Atelier Courvoisier is successful, the distiller may run with similar brand extension schemes, perhaps Stolichnaya vodka and Malibu coconut rum.

Maybe fashionistas can soon look forward to holidaying at the Stolichnaya Gulag or donning genuine mediaeval rags to languish within the cells of London's Bloody Tower, courtesy of Beefeater London Dry Gin?

Allied's Manley is prepared for a degree of dissent. "It's open to a level of cynicism or criticism," he says.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff