Saturday, October 29, 2005

Jennifer Lopez is pineapple, lemon, red currant, caramel and peony. Shania Twain is honeysuckle, magnolia and raspberry. Sarah Jessica Parker is patchouli, musk and — apple martini?

It seems you are no one in Hollywood these days unless a perfume bears your name.

Jessica Simpson has one. So does Donald Trump. Want to smell like Celine Dion, Paris Hilton or Ashanti? There’s a bottle for you.

Celebrity fragrances are not new, says Rochelle Bloom, president of the Fragrance Foundation, a nonprofit group affiliated with the fragrance industry. Elizabeth Taylor started the trend in the 1980s, and her White Diamonds scent remains among the top sellers, Ms. Bloom says.

Never before, however, have so many celebrity fragrances hit the shelves in such a short amount of time.

Today’s trend started in 2002, when singer-actress Jennifer Lopez and the Lancaster Group, a division of Coty, marketed Glow. It was the right idea for the right rising star at the right time. Even the curvy bottle had a sexy shape, much like Miss Lopez’s.

“It was the perfect thing for her to do,” Ms. Bloom says. “Coty saw the potential, and when it was successful, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. What that celebrity scent did was bring attention back to the fragrance market, which had been stagnant.”

Even the Lancaster/Coty executives were surprised at Glow’s success.

“People said to us at the time, ‘Celebrity fragrances don’t work,’” says Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of the Lancaster Group Worldwide, which also is behind Miss Parker’s Lovely and other scents. “We weren’t thinking of creating a whole new category … but Glow became the second-best-selling fragrance of all time, behind CK One. It was profitable the first year, which is rare.”

Since then, Lancaster has added three more scents with Miss Lopez’s name on them. Other companies have joined the trend.

Some retail analysts say celebrities and cosmetics are a perfect match. In the past, fewer scents were introduced, but they had greater staying power. These days, more people, particularly younger consumers, want the latest thing.

What could be more “in” than a hot celebrity?

“If you look at magazines and television, celebrities are clearly a global obsession,” Ms. Walsh says. “It’s gotten so some people talk about celebrities on a first-name basis.”

“If a fragrance is good, people will buy it no matter what the name is,” Ms. Bloom says. “But there always is going to be a certain population that says, ‘I want to emulate’ that star. It’s probably more the younger crowd than the older one.”

A portion of those in the latter category identify so much, they want to smell like Britney or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Ms. Bloom says.

For many stars, developing a fragrance is more than slapping a name on a bottle. Both Miss Lopez and Miss Parker have had a big influence on what their scents should be.

“Jennifer has a really well-trained nose for fragrances,” Ms. Walsh says. “She came to the table with ideas.”

Miss Parker actually set out to re-create the scent she was wearing in real life — a jasmine oil made by a friend, layered with a men’s fragrance and a drugstore musk — Ms. Walsh says.

What resulted was a scent that is “Feminine, timeless and ageless … Sarah Jessica Parker has created a signature look that is hyper-feminine and tastefully hip,” according to the marketing materials.

Sales are “so far, so good,” Ms. Walsh says of Lovely, which hit the stores just a few weeks ago.

More celebrity scents are, of course, in the works.

“If I could predict, I would say this trend will continue for quite a while,” Ms. Walsh says.

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