Top selling fragrance title goes to Unforgivable

For the first time the title of the top-selling new fragrance of the year has gone to a scent for men. On Tuesday Sean “Diddy” Combs’ new scent, Unforgivable, was officially crowned the No. 1 fragrance launch of 2006 by trend tracking firm The NPD Group Inc.

The scent with hints of lemon, bergamont and green mandarin becomes the first men’s scent to lead the pack on the prestige fragrance chart since NPD began tracking the market 10 years ago. To rank the top launches, NPD considers only the first month of sales and December’s performance. To become No. 1 for 2006, Unforgivable outsold women’s fragrances including Vera Wang Princess and Juicy Couture, as well as Euphoria Men and Polo Double Black.

Unforgivable, which is made under license by Esteé Lauder Cos., generated about $80 million in retail sales last year, industry sources say.

“Once we launched in February 2006, we rocketed to success,” says Diana Espino, vice president of Sean John Fragrance, a division of Esteé Lauder.

Men’s fragrance sales, which account for nearly a third of the $3 billion market, regularly outsell women’s scents these days. In 2006, Giorgio Armani’s Acqua Di Gio for men was the best-selling fragrance on the market for eight months.

“This appears to be a more recent trend, picking up momentum each year,” said Karen Grant, NPD’s senior beauty industry analyst, in a statement. “If you look back to 2003, there was only one month when a men’s fragrance was the No. 1 seller.”

Esteé Lauder plans to launch Unforgivable Woman in September.

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