President and Chief Executive Officer of Parfums Givenchy North America
Born c. 1953. Education: Smith College, Northampton, MA, B.A.
Office—Parfums Givenchy Inc., 717 5th Ave., Ste. 4, New York, NY 10022.
Began career at Charles of the Ritz as product manager for mass–distribution fragrances, 1979–82; spent a year as a marketing director at Revlon International, and worked in Cosmair, Inc.'s marketing division, 1984–86; briefly served as vice president of marketing at Parfums Phenix, 1987, before returning to Cosmair and reaching the post of vice president for global development and United States marketing of its Ralph Lauren Fragrances division; became senior vice president of sales at Chanel Parfums, April, 1997; named president and chief executive officer of Parfums Givenchy North America, January, 1998; given responsibility for its Guerlain brand, November, 2001.
Fragrance Foundation and Cosmetic Executive Women.
In 1998, Camille McDonald became president and chief executive officer of Parfums Givenchy North America, part of the LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton empire. Her realm includes overseeing the development, launch, and marketing for an array of Givenchy fragrances, from Eau de Givenchy to Organza. In 2001, she was given responsibility for the Guerlain division as well, which includes Shalimar, one of the world's best–selling women's perfumes. "The exciting news isn't about me—it's about LVMH and a very exciting time in its development as a force in the U.S. beauty business," she told WWD journalist Julie Naughton when her Guerlain duties were announced, and said she was looking forward to the challenge of reviving what some felt was a moribund brand. "The smartest companies see difficult times as an opportunity," McDonald asserted. "They look for synergies—and they also look for how they can break the rules. Guerlain and Givenchy have numerous synergies in magic, prestige, and products."
Born in the early 1950s, McDonald earned a degree in American studies from Smith College, the prestigious women's school in Northampton, Massachusetts. She began her career in the cosmetics industry in 1979 with a job at Charles of the Ritz, where she served as product manager for its mass–distribution fragrances, including the highly successful Enjoli and Jean Naté lines at the time. Moving over to Cosmair, the United States licensee of the Paris–based L'Oreal Group, McDonald became brand manager for the 1984 launch of Paloma Picasso's signature fragrance. At Parfums Phenix in 1987, she helped launch another signature scent, this one from legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve. Back at Cosmair by 1989, McDonald marketed the lines in its Ralph Lauren Fragrances division. Over the next few years, she oversaw the development of five new popular Lauren fragrances, from Safari to Polo Sport Woman.
McDonald's marketing savvy led to an executive job with Cosmair's Lauren division in global development. She joined the venerable House of Chanel's fragrance division for a time as senior vice president of sales, but after less than a year on the job there through much of 1997, McDonald was hired by luxury–goods group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton as president and chief executive officer of its Parfums Givenchy North America unit. The Givenchy fragrance line dated back to designer Hubert de Givenchy's creation of a signature scent called L'Interdit for his muse, the actress Audrey Hepburn, in 1957. British maverick Alexander McQueen had been head designer at Givenchy since 1996, and was credited with revitalizing the classic French couture house. "Among our immediate strategies," the newly appointed McDonald told WWD writer Pete Born, "will be an accelerated pace for new product launches, as well as tightening the connection between Givenchy fragrances and Givenchy fashion, which has enormous potential under the brilliant design direction of Alexander McQueen."
Several new scents were launched during McDonald's first years on the job at Parfums Givenchy, including an entirely new "American Designers" line, which included fragrances from American designers Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, and Kenneth Cole. In the fall of 2001, LVMH restructured its American fragrances and cosmetics divisions, and McDonald was given responsibility for Guerlain Inc., the American subsidiary of the French fragrance house, as well. The perfume–maker, thought to be world's oldest fragrance and cosmetics line, dates back to 1828 and includes the famed Guerlain house brands like Shalimar and Samsara, plus the newer Kenzo and Celine scents. "Guerlain is the oldest fragrance company in the world, and it has flourished in pure creativity without the equity of a designer name," McDonald told WWD's Naughton at the time. She adroitly sidestepped the issue of moribund sales for the brand in what had become an extremely competitive market. "The best product in the world won't succeed if the communications aren't right, and there have been challenges with that in the U.S. at retail," she noted. "But there is an American voice that can be employed without changing the Frenchness of the brand."
In 2002, McDonald oversaw the launch of Kenneth Cole New York Men and Kenneth Cole New York Women scents. But within a year, LVMH had started to sell off its non–core beauty businesses, beginning with the sale of the Kors fragrance license to Estée Lauder, Inc., in May of 2003 for what industry sources believed to be in the neighborhood of $20 million. A Lauder executive, Patrick Bousquet–Chavanne, told Born of WWD that his company had "inherited a good business. The people at LVMH, under Camille's leadership have done a good job of bringing this product to market." McDonald told the same writer that the announcement of the Kors deacquisition "[i]s a bittersweet time for us. We never like to see our children grow up and move out of the house. But it's something that could be harvested for the benefit of the more core business and the delivered value could be reinvested elsewhere." A few weeks later, LVMH okayed the sale of the Jacobs and Cole scents to Coty, another cosmetics–licensing powerhouse, for an amount rumored to be in the $50 million neighborhood for both brands. Rumors circulated at the time that perhaps McDonald would be leaving the company as well, but she told WWD's Born and Naughton, "I have no plans to leave LVMH," and asserted elsewhere that by letting go of the LVMH's American Designers experiment, she and her team "will be able to focus our resources and creativity on capitalizing on the success of Parfums Givenchy and Guerlain in the U.S market."
McDonald is a board member of two industry groups, the Fragrance Foundation and Cosmetic Executive Women. She admitted once that her dressing for her job sometimes presented a challenge, she told More magazine in 2001. "The reality is I have to portray leadership and credibility.… Believe me, there are days when all I want to wear are my Bugs Bunny slippers and Nick & Nora pjs."
Drug & Cosmetic Industry, March 1994, p. 16.
More, October 2001, p. 117.
WWD, January 9, 1987, p. 8; January 7, 1998, p. 2; July 27, 2001, p. 13; November 2, 2001, p. 1; May 9, 2003, p. 1; May 30, 2003, p. 1.
"The First Annual Newsmakers Panel," Essec Business School, http://www.essecusa.com/newsmakers/mcdonald.htm (August 11, 2003).