Fragrance

By Amy Sciaretto

A signature scent is as essential to your personal style as a pair of sexy, strappy heels, the perfect bling-bling necklace, or even the highlights in your hair. Your scent can enter a room before you, and linger long after you’ve gone. It makes an impression. It’s an important, delicate balance, a representation of your uniqueness, especially when you blend. Besides, who doesn’t love engulfing a boyfriend or a loved one in a warm hug, only to have them respond, “My god, you smell amazing! What are you wearing?” or “Where can I get that fragrance?” Scent is tied to memory, and perhaps that’s why it’s such a personalized statement you make each time you pick up your favorite and spritz.

These days, it seems like every celebrity and his or her stylist has their own scent, bottled and mass marketed at your local Saks, Neimans, Macys, or Nordstrom. Multimedia diva Jennifer Lopez is on her fourth scent. Songstresses Beyonce, Shania Twain and Celine Dion have their own fragrances, and the list goes on. Clearly, anyone with some startup capital can combine forces with a chemist!

The questions that begs to be asked, and hopefully answered here, is why are celeb fragrances so popular? Why do women, of all ages, income, and social status, find themselves magnetically attracted to celeb scents? First, we live in a celebrity obsessed and infested culture, so much so that you can’t escape the advertising blitz, and the familiar faces of celebrities in pop culture. Fragrance corporations spend what seems like endless reserves of money marketing a scent; the face of the namesake is plastered everywhere, in sexy poses and clothing. It’s an age-old concept. You see a gorgeous celeb touting her fragrance, draped in fur and diamonds, with a hunky man in hot pursuit, and you think, however unconsciously, ‘If I wear this scent, I too can be as desirable as the person hawking this perfume in this ad that I’ve seen 1000 times on billboards, TV, and on retail counters.” And that applies to everything from celeb fragrances to designer sunglasses to pricey shoes to soft drinks. Marketing is inescapable, and so is the recognizability of celebs themselves. J Lo, Brit, Jess, and Sarah Jessica Parker are on the cover of US Weekly as often as they are on the cover of Vogue or Elle. They’re ingrained in our brains.

But just perhaps, the celeb perfumer might have a good nose and have partnered with some savvy chemists to create a beautiful scent that you want to wear, regardless of the name on the box.

I’ve put my olfactory sense to the test, and have sampled 4 of the latest, hottest celebrity scents for Fall 2005. I’ve worn them all, and I’m ready to report on what’s hot and and why.

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Sarah Jessica Parker is a style icon. She is ladylike, girlie and classic, and so is her debut scent, Lovely. Lovely is a light, any season-anytime scent with universal appeal. It can be worn by a young professional in a corporate job, or a busy ER nurse. Uptown girls or vintage gals who like rock ‘n roll and tattooed boys will find Lovely a scent that’s to die for. Lovely is the chicest and most grown up of recent celeb scents. Packaged in a pink, egg shaped bottle that reminded me of ballet slippers, Lovely is a silky white amber with top notes of fresh mandarin, bergamot that dally with lush lavender, patchouli and orchid middle notes, all of which mingle with cedar and sultry musk bottom notes. It’s not an overwhelming scent, and it has a very pink, feminine essence.

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Jennifer Lopez has just launched Live Jennifer Lopez, her fourth scent. Clearly, she’s erected a fragrance empire. Live is crisp, and much more fur wearing, fashion designing Jennifer Lopez than it is J Lo. It’s a sophisticated fruity floral with staying power. It’s strong and nose-tickling, tailored for Fall. It’s chicer than Lopez’s previous concoctions. Top notes are lush and citrusy, like a juicy bowl of fresh Mediterranean fruit, including Sicilian lemon, Italian orange, and pineapple. Red currant, peony and violet make up the mid notes, and the bottom notes are contrasting, like caramel, Tonka beans, and sandalwood. Live is for flirty, girly girls, and is a reminder that a girl from the Bronx can make her dreams into realities.

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Kimora Lee Simmons is the creative force behind Baby Phat, a hip, street chic clothing line. Her debut scent, Baby Phat Goddess is designed for the Village/Lower East Side glamazon urbanite who views perfume as a valued accessory. Sexy, dangerous, and feline femme, Baby Phat Goddess is exotic, like its namesake. There pink bottle is shaped like Simmons’ own Ascher cut diamond, and despite its glitzy shape, the scent is not too upscale. If you like to sport Betsey Johnson or Gwen Stefani’s LAMB clothes, Goddess is a perfect accoutrement. It’s a kicky white floral, marrying gardenia, white rosebuds with blue lily, hyacinth, and black pepper. Goddess is heady and strong, and recommended for a night out or a date, as opposed to wearing it at the office. But if you want to let your hair down, or are the type of girl to never wears her hair up, then Goddess is all you.

Before you groan, and are reminded of those horrifying images of her stuffing her cheeks with Cheetos and dressing ever so trashily this summer, cut Britney Spears some slack. The pop tart just welcomed her first child, so maybe she’ll clean up her image in time to launch Fantasy, her second fragrance. It’s a cavity inducing, candy scented concoction, and it’s very heavy. The dry down is creamy, despite the overwhelming first burst of scent. Fantasy is candied and uber girly, and deserves an invitation to a girls night out at the clubs. And if you love the smell of a bakery, but don’t want to go indulge in the calories, then Fantasy is a lush, worthwhile substitute. Ignore your sweet tooth and indulge your nose; it’s a fair trade. Red lychee notes swim with golden quince, while cupcake and white chocolate orchid are bake alongside orris root and creamy musk in this blend. The hot pink bottle is adorned with Swarovski crystals; this is a sexy scent for gutsy girls who don’t care about the reputation of the perfume’s namesake.

There you have it. A gaggle of celeb fragrances are crowding the shelves this Fall, and each has its own appeal, be it street chic or classy girl. But no matter whose name is on the bottle, when you wear the scent, make it your own by layering it with other scents, oils, or moisturizers. It’s your accessory, despite the name on the bottle. Make it new. Make it yours.

Originally published October 2005
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