Thursday 28 April 2016


They arrive in a blaze of publicity and either hold onto their market share or silently disappear. I'm talking about CELEBRITY FRAGRANCES. There has been a lot of talk about the scourge of this genre recently, but in my opinion the reviewers are missing the point. The world has changed since Guerlain launched Mitsouko in 1919 and L.T. Piver gave us Rêve D'Or in 1889, not least because of the number of releases every year, so are Beyoncé and Rihanna being unfairly criticised? Let's compare a century of perfume habits and see whether twelve months might actually become the norm for a fragrance's life.

When the perfumers that we now hold up as the greats created their scents they could never have imagined that their fragrances would still be available a century later. Yes, an appreciation for their work would always be hoped for, but their perfume to live on after their own death was surely a fantasy. Fantasy or not, this is exactly what happened for the likes of Ernest Beaux, Henri Alméras, Paul Parquet, Louis Armingeat and the Guerlain family. Their fragrances developed a following through originality, a control on distribution, perceived quality and even a belief that France was the home of fine fragrance.

Now, celebrity endorsement has always existed, as Lizzie Ostrom points out in her book, A Century of Scent. Le Parfum Idéal by Houbigant had used the fictional Gibson Girls in 1900 whilst Atkinsons used the real Gaiety Girls for their 1911 Poinsettia. So, endorsement sells perfume, but it's a little different when the celebrity IS the perfume. We then risk falling foul of fashion, scandal, and even likability. It's this "fashion" aspect which has seen the dramatic increase in the number of fragrances released by celebrities. They have a "shelf life", the person rather than the fragrance, and so it's in their interest to saturate the market as quickly as possible with a multitude of scents.

As customers we have also changed though. We can find information more easily, read reviews from people we've never heard of, and if a bottle of perfume pops up on Kim Kardashian's Twitter then baton down the hatches because a stampede is inevitable. Maybe they won't be the best "quality" fragrances made with the "purest" ingredients, whatever that actually means, but people like them. To brush off these fragrances as trite is to insult the wearers, and I suggest that reviewers remember that.

The world of CELEBRITY FRAGRANCES has changed since Elizabeth Taylor launched White Diamonds, Dynasty launched Forever Krystle and Joan Collins launched Spectacular. In the eighties we were governed by television and film, so you could say that the fragrances were star driven rather than celebrity driven. Interestingly, Joan Collins' recent perfume release, I Am Woman, is now in its third year and shows no signs of slowing down, although an endorsement from Joan Collins is surely pretty safe from scandal. So, please don't dismiss the CELEBRITY FRAGRANCE out of hand. Try it, and if you like it then buy it. Now, pass me my Britney Spears Maui Fantasy, a Mai Tai, and I'll see you on the beach!

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