You're at the perfume counter and it suddenly dawns on you. What on earth does Elizabeth Taylor or Sarah Jessica Parker or Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez or the unfortunate Brittney Spears know about perfume? Judging by the perfume counter, you'd think they knew a lot. Celebrity fragrances are big on the perfume market right now, hot and getting hotter. So are they good fragrance choices? Some people figure it's just a marketing gambit and walk away. Others would argue that a celebrity would likely only endorse a product they liked, so perhaps it's more like a "seal of approval.
" And who knows more about glamour than some of the folks who attach their names to perfume bottles? The role a celebrity plays in developing a fragrance varies a lot from product to product and celebrity to celebrity. Some celebrities play a very active role in developing a fragrance, others just have approval rights and let a team of experts work out a fragrance that's marketable. Sarah Jessica Parker allegedly obsessed over her fragrance as it was in the works and Brittney Spears reportedly had some input on the bottle and packaging design of her scent Curious. It's hard to say if that is true or part of the marketing spin on these products. Most right-thinking celebrities do not endorse products lightly (even if some do it frequently). But is the endorsement deal based on love or money? The perfume industry has been a moneymaker for the last, say, 18 centuries.
Individual perfumes make money based on the extent to which sales can offset research and production. Since a very fine perfume may be sold for years--generations even--a classic perfume can make its manufacturer a great deal of money over time. But not all perfumes become classics. The idea of a "person behind the fragrance" is nothing new. Perhaps Coco Chanel created that mystique when she unveiled Chanel No. 5, a perfume she did not invent and marketed by a company she was involved with.
However, Coco Chanel quickly became Chanel No. 5's "persona" which was a boon both to her own career and legend as well as the perfume (it's been around since 1923). Designers have always had fragrances. From Christian Dior to Paco Rabanne, from Calvin Klein to Vera Wang, it's almost obligatory for a design house to have a perfume. Even luxury brands (not designers) have signature scents: Tiffany, Coach, Burberry. It was only a matter of time before that sphere extended to include American royalty, that is, movie stars, singers, and celebrities.
At first, famous women merely served as spokespeople for the perfume. Today, they are more likely to have their name on the bottle than on the ad. But should you buy them? Most celebrity fragrances are produced by the major perfume houses, so you can count on getting a good-quality brand. Celebrities also make sure there is some glamour and appeal in the packaging and promotion, so the perfume will likely have some of that mystique rub off on it. In other words, it's probably worth a whiff.
But should you buy celebrity perfumes as gifts? Should you add them to your collection? That depends on what type of perfume lover will wind up with the celebrity scent. Among the men and women of fragrance, there are really only three types of perfume fan. The first is the person who is enamored of America's celebrity culture. This includes lots of young men and women, particularly those who are big fans of specific celebrities.
They love celebrity perfumes. If you don't know what to give that person who adores Celine Dion, a celebrity fragrance is a great idea. The second type of person of fragrance is the one who has very specific ideas about fragrance. Perhaps they have a signature scent or they have just made up their minds that they hate Dior but love Givenchy or some other quirky thing.
These are the equivalent of people who don't like the vegetable to touch the meat on their dinner plate; they are finicky. This kind of person is usually intelligent, confident, self-assured, and shares her opinion a little too freely. I suspect Ann Coulter is in this mix. If you buy a fragrance gift for such a person, be sure to find out what they like. Chances are they do not like celebrity perfumes.
There is a reason for this, of course. Celebrity scents are generally designed to have what marketers would call "mass appeal." To do that, you have to create scents that have the least ability to offend people.
Bottom line, you end up with fragrances that most people like but few people love. The second type of person finicky, and finicky people are hard to shop for. The third and final person of fragrance is the true perfumista, the person who wears a lot of perfume and knows about them.
This is a more free-spirited individual who is, paradoxically, the least likely to be a perfume snob. Perfumistas will wear drug-store perfume, providing they like it. These perfume lovers will wear scents that they like (but don't adore) and they educate their nose and senses to the point that they have very broad tastes and can appreciate a wide range of fragrances. For them, every scent is judged on its own merit.
They probably own some pretty eclectic fragrances and they might very well enjoy a celebrity fragrance. Generally speaking, people who have claimed a celebrity fragrance as their personal favorite (like the lady at work who loves White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor), who are young and still sweetly impressionable, or those who adore specific celebrities are ideal candidates for celebrity fragrances. So are people who have sort of broad tastes for fragrance and seem open-minded about trying new things. Should you check out the celebrity fragrances at the perfume counter? Absolutely! You may even find some that you really like.
Want to know what kind of perfume suits you best? Would you just like to not be intimidated next time you want to check out the fragrance counter at your local department store? Visit http://www.theperfume-reporter.com and get your free Perfume Profile. This article was written by Joanna McLaughlin, a frequent contributor to ThePerfume-Reporter. Her favorite scent today is Tuberose Garden, Private Collection by Estee Lauder.