Estée Lauder Scoops Up Niche Beauty Brands

by Paige Reddinger

Estée Lauder Companies Inc. recently purchased luxury fragrance brand By Kilian, founded by CEO Kilian Hennessy in 2007, the latest move in its quest to add boutique beauty brands to its repertoire. By Killian has quickly developed a following for its unique fragrances, clever perfume names, and exquisite packaging, and the sleek black lacquered reusable coffres make quite a presentation. Some perfumes even come enclosed in chic clutches or encapsulated in jewelry. It’s these extra luxurious touches that have set the By Kilian brand apart from other prestige perfumers. Hennessy has spent over 20 years in the fragrance business, having created scents for major perfumers like Dior, Paco Rabanne, Giorgio Armani, and Alexander McQueen, where he helped develop the designer’s first fragrance.

“I could not imagine a better home for my brand,” said Hennessy. “The Estée Lauder Companies not only understands the philosophy behind By Kilian—which is to bring perfumery back to the level of luxury that it enjoyed in the early 20th century—but also has the resources and support to help By Kilian continue to strategically grow by category, region and distribution. The Company has an incredible track record of nurturing entrepreneurial brands, and I’m thrilled to be partnering with them.” Indeed Estée Lauder has been wisely snapping up boutique brands with a particular aesthetic and taste level and real stories to tell, such as Le Labo, founded in 2006 by L’Oréal vets Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi; Rodin Olio Lusso, an all-natural skin-care brand founded by stylist Linda Rodin in 2007; and GlamGlow, a beauty company that produces fast-acting treatment masks founded by Glenn and Shannon Dellimore in 2010.

“They are small but strong brands with a story, an idea, and consumers love them,” Estée Lauder president and CEO Fabrizio Freda told the Wall Street Journal last month. “The acquisitions were about their unique points but also their elements of commonality. They are all artisanal and very high quality, with a certain element of customization. All are in the high-end luxury area, and all have strong points of view.” By Kilian’s first client was Bergdorf Goodman and has since expanded to sell in over 40 countries worldwide. Its first freestanding flagship opened in New York City’s Meatpacking District in the fall 2013, and its Paris flagship has been open for over a year.

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