x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Heady world of celebrity fragrances

If you are famous without a fragrance or several to your name, these days, you are simply not pushing your brand hard enough.

Deseo For Men is among the 16 fragrances Jennifer Lopez has launched.
Deseo For Men is among the 16 fragrances Jennifer Lopez has launched.

J Lo has 16, Halle Berry has three, Britney Spears has eight, Celine Dion has 14 and even Cliff Richard has two (called Devil Woman and Miss You Nights, natch). These days, if you're a celebrity without a fragrance to your name, or several, then you're simply not pushing your brand hard enough. The big news last week was that Lopez and Berry are going head to head with the release of their respective new scents at the same time this autumn - which could seem like an oversight when one considers they're both produced by the same fragrance giant, Coty.

The name of J Lo's might make you want to retch (Love and Glamour, really?) but just listen to its line of noted ingredients: mandarin, guava, nectarine, water lily, coconut orchid, orange blossom, jasmine, sandalwood, sensual musk and amber. What, they couldn't cram in any more? No burnt rubber? No chocolate? No hint of raspberry? And the bottle is apparently designed to look like a woman at a glamorous red carpet event. Of course it is.

Berry's, meanwhile, is called Reveal. In this little treasure, you'll find notes of her favourite flower, mimosa, together with peach, honeydew melon, red berries, iris blossom, vetiver, cashmere woods and skin musk. (What, please, is a cashmere wood? I would love to visit such a magical place and pluck pashminas off the trees?) Although it has run away with itself in recent years, the link between celebrities and fragrances isn't a novel one. In the 1930s, Schiaparelli created a bottle that emulated the figure of Mae West for a scent called Shocking. In the 1950s, Givenchy created L'Interdit for Audrey Hepburn. Chanel No. 5 has long been associated with Marilyn Monroe since she asserted that it was the only thing she wore in bed. And in the 1980s, Elizabeth Taylor lent herself to two fragrances: first Passion, later White Diamonds. You can't help but query whether the same people gainfully employed to write Hallmark cards peddle a sideline in perfume names.

It wasn't until 2002, however, and Coty's launch of J Lo's enormously successful debut fragrance Glow, that the market started mutating with so many celebrity names. Want to smell like Michael Jordan, Danielle Steele or Carmen Electra? Step right up, your wish is their command. Never before have department store shelves been been so saturated, so dripping, in celebrity fragrances all trying to overpower each other in the fight for your olfactory senses. And your cash. It's a multi-billion dollar industry, with celebrity scents gobbling up their share of the total fragrance market like Pac Man. J Lo fragrances alone are said to have generated sales of more than $1 billion (Dh3.7 billion) for Coty, who lead the market when it comes to such scents.

Recent debuts? Jennifer Aniston has entered the fray this month, with a plain-looking bottle called Lolavie launching exclusively in Harrods. She herself describes it as "a non-perfume perfume", and "floral, but not too flowery". The woman was wasted in Friends, clearly she should have gone into marketing. Also new this summer will be the Bruce Willis cologne, or as it is officially called Bruce Willis Eau de Parfum. Eau de Die Hard would maybe have more luck at encouraging tough guys everywhere to spritz themselves after a shave. Thirdly, Mary J Blige is elbowing her way in there next month too with My Life, which contains hints of gardenia petals, pear, white freesia, tuberose, blooming jasmine, gold lily, apricot flower, cashmere woods (ah, they they are again!), praline, sesame and incense. The question, of course, is whether or not the celebrities wear their fragrances themselves. Is a quick squirt for the photo-shoot and at the launch enough to do the trick? Or do Jessica Simpson, Joan Rivers, J Lo and co smell like "themselves" all the time? In the case of J Lo and other multiple fragrance purveyors, how do they decide which of the myriad different versions of themselves they are feeling each morning? Does it change throughout the day? Smells like an olfactory nightmare to us.