Watch Beyoncé Poorly Impersonate A Parfumeur

Welcome to how your celebrity fragrance sausage is made: In a boring conference room in Newcastle, surrounded by corporate types, flacks, and real noses. "It might be too much like fruit," offers Beyoncé, taking a sniff. "But I like it."

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Beyoncé and Tina Knowles, faced with a panoply of prepared samples with formulaic-sounding names, are going about the serious business of choosing which scent will be anointed Beyoncé Heat Rush, and which will return to the laboratory shelves to gather dust, living out their days as also-rans in the winner-take-all sport of celebrity fragrance marketing. Just kidding! There's no harm in seeing if Faith Hill, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker — or any of the dozens of other stars who've cast in their licensed lot with fragrance giant Coty, Inc. — will take it.

Beyoncé launched her first perfume, Heat, in the U.S. last February. It sold $60,000 worth in one day, and was immediately ranked in the top ten women's perfumes by sales. Later in the year, however, Heat slipped, and by June it was number 21 in women's. That pattern is said to be typical of celebrity perfumes that start off strongly, with a big marketing push and lots of hype, and then end up two months later stocked next to indelible classics like Chanel No. 5. Now that the Heat is cooling, B. needs a new fragrance to stay on top, or else she and Coty might not make absolute piles of money. Heat Rush, apparently known going into this meeting as "Sunset Cocktail Mod 5," fits the bill. Congratulations, Sunset Cocktail Mod 5! Beyoncé's perfume line is projected to do around $150 million at retail in 2011.

Heat Rush Smelling Session [YouTube]
Beyoncé to Launch Heat Rush Scent [WWD]
Beyoncé Touts Fragrance At Macy's [WWD]

DISCUSSION

ASmallTurnip
A Small Turnip

This being the bog-standard let's-have-a-laff at celebrities pretending to know anything about scent that we've seen a thousand times before, I think it might be useful to provide an alternate view:

Some celebrity perfumes are fucking dreadful. Beyonce's Heat is as rancid and cheaply-made scent as it is possible to imagine. It is a horror by all objective standards. But not all celebrity scents are. Some are actually phenomenal, beautifully-made pieces of olfactory art. Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely is essentially a perfect modern musk. Tilda Swinton's Like This captures an utterly enchanting ginger-pumpkin accord. Jessica Simpson's Fancy Nights is truly terrific modern chypre, and one of the best things to come out in the last year. Jennifer Lopez's Glow is a gorgeously engineered vintage face-powder scent, and highly respected by anyone who knows anything about how perfumes are made.

By concentrating on the dreck that gets put out under some celebrities' names, you forget that the big, prestigious perfume houses such as Guerlain, Calvin Klein and Armani put out an equal amount of unwearable horrors. The marketing departments of these companies love to give you the impression that it's Giorgio Armani, thoughtfully sniffing vials of oakmoss and vetiver, who constructs the scents that go out under his name, but the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Armani is literally anosmic. He can't smell anything. His perfumes are made by exactly the same people that make Beyonce's Heat. Exactly the same amount of money and thought go into their ingredients (namely, about $25 per kilo, if we're being generous). CKIN2U, Guerlain's Tutti Kiwi and Armani's Code are all equally as revolting and mercenary as Heat. The difference is that nobody ever talks about it. It's far more click-worthy to write the same old tired article about celebrity perfumes rather than actually doing some bullshit-detecting research on the perfume industry as a whole. There's a hell of a lot out there, believe me.