CELEBRITY SCENTS Smells of success
Stars of TV, movies and music are lending their names to perfumes.
By RACHEL LEIBROCK
O WE REALLY SMELL THAT BAD?
America's celebrities seem to think so. Well, perhaps the glitterati aren't wrinkling their collective nose every time we pass by. But the stars are hoping we'll use our noses to take a whiff of what they're offering.
Seems like you're no one in Hollywood circles unless you're brandishing your own perfume bottle. Britney, Paris and Jessica. J.Lo, Celine, Antonio Banderas and The Donald. And, coming soon to a perfume counter near you: fragrances by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Cindy Crawford and P. Diddy, not to mention tennis stars Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova.
Whew, that's a lot of spritzing. Or should that be p-ewwww? With all those fragrances floating around, it's a wonder we can breathe.
But apparently we are inhaling, and for a pretty sum -- prices average $39 to $60 a bottle. Although the marketing-information group NPD Beauty reports that fragrance sales have remained flat -- with purchases totaling a billion dollars for first nine months of 2004 -- celebs are pumping up an otherwise stale industry by adding a splash of glamour and name recognition, according to some analysts.
"Celebrities are bringing people back to the fragrance arena," says Rochelle Bloom, president of the Manhattan-based Fragrance Foundation, a nonprofit trade organization.
It's not just about stars hawking their own fragrances, either; these days, everyone from Nicole Kidman (Chanel No. 5) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Elizabeth Arden) to Beyonce (Tommy Hilfiger) and Matthew McConaughey (Stetson) is shilling other people's scents.
In particular, Bloom says, Kidman's glitzy but sophisticated partnering with Chanel No. 5 was "brilliant."
The recent ad campaign, which included a commercial helmed by Kidman's "Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrman, was "romantic and mysterious."
"It made people say, 'I like Nicole Kidman. I think I'll try that fragrance again,'" Bloom says.
Celebrity fragrances aren't new, of course. Elizabeth Taylor helped launch White Diamonds in 1991, but Bloom says it wasn't until 2002, when Jennifer Lopez introduced Glow, that the trend really took off. The fragrance raked in a reported $80 million and, in 2003, Lopez gave a repeat performance with Still Glow. In 2004, she launched yet another scent, Miami Glow.
If you're picturing Lopez and stars like her hard at work in the lab, decked out in designer smocks while they test out perfume top notes, think again.
Britney and The Donald
But some celebrities do get involved when it comes to deciding how to develop and sell a signature scent.
Britney Spears took a hands-on approach to the September launch of her Curious perfume, says Tamara Steele, vice president of global marketing for Elizabeth Arden.
From deciding on her favorite scents (magnolia and vanilla musk) and design (blue-and-pink packaging and a vintage-style atomizer) to appearing in TV and print ads and sending text messages to fans, Spears was "totally involved" every step of the way, Steele says.
The result, she says, is a fragrance, package and ad that are "very sophisticated, beautiful and young -- very Britney."
The appeal of working with Spears was clear and simple, adds Steele, from her office in Manhattan.
"She's a trendsetter ... and people are interested in all aspects of her life. She's a celebrity, an entertainer [and] a fashion icon."
Likewise, Aramis viewed going into partnership with Donald Trump as a way to capitalize on the business icon's celebrity and reputation.
"Donald Trump is a businessman, a TV personality -- he's respected and admired and he clearly has an audience in America," explains Robin Mason, vice president of global marketing for Aramis, a division of Estee Lauder.
Although Trump wasn't as involved in the direct development of his men's fragrance , Mason says the "Apprentice" star nonetheless brought his "Midas touch" to the fragrance that launched in November.
"He was very committed to talking about how it should smell and how the packaging should look," Mason says. "He wanted something that was modern, sensual and sexy -- something that today's man would wear."
But Dawn Scott isn't too impressed with Trump's latest venture.
"It's OK, but I thought it would -- you know because he always has a lot of women -- be more appealing to women," says Scott, who sniffed a quick whiff of the cologne on a recent stroll past a Macy's counter in Arden Fair mall.
Keeping up with latest
And if anyone knows about fancy smells, it's Scott, 56, of Sacramento, Calif. With more than 30 fragrances in her collection, Scott says she makes a point of keeping up with the latest scents.
While Scott also turns her nose up at Britney's Curious ("It smelled too sweet, like a little girl's perfume"), she's a fan of J.Lo's Miami Glow.
"It seemed very sensual and gave me a lift," says Scott, who also counts Calvin Klein's Obsession among her favorites. "It just seems very sophisticated."
But while industry analyst Bloom predicts that shoppers such as Scott will continue to collect fragrances, she says the celebrity trend will eventually fade.
"My guess is that next year, there will not be as many celebrity fragrances," Bloom says.