Just last week, the actress Jennifer Aniston launched J by Jennifer Aniston, the second fragrance marketed under her name and image. That may not sound like such big news, when it sometimes seems like every entertainer, model, athlete and reality TV star is promoting his or her own namesake scent. Surprisingly, things weren’t always that way. Famous people have endorsed all kinds of products over the past century – who wouldn’t want to wear the same lipstick or drive the same car as a movie star? – but the idea of creating perfumes named after celebrities is a more recent phenomenon.
Depending on how you look at it, the first celebrity scents may have been the perfumes that fashion designers like Coco Chanel and Paul Poiret named after themselves and their brands in the 1920s. Beyond the fashion world, however, it took a lot longer for fragrances to be matched with famous personalities. Nowadays, thanks to arrangements between major cosmetics companies and celebrities of all kinds, anyone can wear a little bit of his or her idol’s style.
Here's a whiff of ten “smellebrities” and their best-known ventures into fragrance:
In 1957, you could buy all kinds of Elvis Presley merchandise: jewelry, t-shirts, wallets, school supplies and…perfume? Yes! Teddy Bear Eau de Parfum, named for the King’s single “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear,” was one of the very earliest celebrity fragrances.
Italian actress Sophia Loren was already legendary for her classic bombshell beauty when cosmetics giant Coty approached her with the plan of creating a fragrance in her name. The advertising tagline for the sensual-and-spicy Sophia (released in 1980) was “Wear it…with a passion.” Who could resist?
From the release of her first fragrance, Passion, in 1987 to the later successes of White Diamonds and Black Pearls (named for some of her favorite jewels), Violet Eyes (named for her most famous features) and numerous other scents, the ever-glamorous Dame Elizabeth Taylor reigned as the queen of celebrity perfumes.
Gibson was a major teen pop idol in the 1980s, thanks to hits like “Only in My Dreams” and “Shake Your Love.” Her fragrance Electric Youth, aimed at younger female customers, was released as a tie-in with her 1989 album of the same name. The bottle was also teen-oriented (and very 80s!), with a design that looked like pink-and-green neon lettering.
Cher’s first fragrance, Uninhibited, was perfectly named. Like the singer-actress herself, the perfume had a strong presence, and its packaging was as eye-catching and sparkly as a Bob Mackie gown. Uninhibited was launched at a high point of Cher’s career, shortly after her Academy Award-winning performance in Moonstruck.
Rossellini appeared as a model in countless Lancôme advertisements for makeup and perfume in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2000 the actress branched out with her own fragrance, Manifesto. It had an unusual basil note inspired by her Italian heritage and its ads showcased Rossellini’s own natural beauty.
The multi-talented J-Lo set the stage for the celebrity-fragrance madness of the early 21st century. Her first release, Glow (2002), also amped up the trend for clean-smelling, just-out-of-the-shower scents. She followed Glow with 20 other perfumes inspired by different phases of her life and career, and she’s still going strong.
When Spears was one of the biggest pop stars in the world in the 2000s, she put her name on a series of best-selling perfumes. These sweet-smelling fragrances had candy-colored bottles and upbeat names like Curious, Fantasy and Believe, and they captured all the saucy fun of Spears’s early career.
Everyone knows Prince’s music, not to mention his trademark style: the velvet suits, the eyeliner, the high-heeled boots. What everyone doesn’t know is that His Purple Highness released a fragrance in 2007. Named after his latest album, 3121, it wasn’t much of a success; the company that produced the scent later sued Prince for failing to promote it adequately.
In 2006 Derek Jeter entered a licensing agreement with Avon Products. This record-setting New York Yankee has since been featured as the name and face of several colognes, beginning with Driven − “Life Without Limits.” Those scents have been top-sellers in the men’s celebrity fragrance market, making them Most Valuable…Perfumes?