Perfume snobbery does exist. Some people would much rather say that they’re wearing the latest Chanel or niche perfume than admit to dousing themselves with an inexpensive Britney Spears or Paris Hilton fragrance. Am I a fragrance snob? Yep. Allow me to explain.
I’m a deadbeat when it comes to popular western culture. I have lived in Japan since 1995, so when it comes to western trends, I am out of it or at best, lagging, generally speaking. I haven’t had a TV since 2004, I don’t live on social media, and I don’t read popular magazines, even ones that are in Japanese for the Japanese market. I mean honestly, I didn’t even know who Arianna Grande was when I bought this bottle, as I’ve mentioned before. Therefore, in my case if I blind buy a celebrity perfume, it’s generally because of the reviews I’ve read, or because it was made by a particular perfumer.
But even so, I guess I am a perfume snob. The very idea of celebrity perfume is a turn off to me. I don’t like the idea of consuming fan club merch, which is I’m afraid how I tend to view celebrity fragrances – a bit juvenile. To me this genre of fragrance is perhaps the pinnacle of consumerism. I’m not anti-consumerist, especially if done responsibly – but this facet of it is the tacky and capitalism-over-art side of the industry. Even if those celebrities themselves are considered artists.
I tend to hold assumptions regarding quality of celebrity fragrance ingredients, too. Sometimes a brilliant nose creates a wonderful formulation for a celebrity fragrance, but the actual product suffers because the company wants to reduce costs. This is not limited to celebrity perfume of course, I know. I don’t feel contempt for the idea of luxury products made affordable, though. I don’t hate on clone houses, as you know of me from my last post.
But as they are designed to appeal to the mass market, it’s not surprising that many celebrity scents do follow the current generic pattern of sweet gourmands and fluffy fruity florals. And this is the third reason why I’m not a fan. There are the odd few celebrity-endorsed products that are well worth sniffing, though I might not go as far as suggest buying.
At the moment I have three in my collection, so allow me to give some quick review time to each.
Jennifer Lopez Minami Glow
First is Minami Glow by singer and actor Jennifer Lopez, who is my exact same age but looks to be half of it – sigh. This is one of the many GLOW flankers. It’s a floral fruity fragrance launched in 2005 and created by Caroline Sabas.
- passionfruit, coconut milk, pink grapefruit
- orange blossom, cyclamen, heliotrope
- vanilla, musk, amber
I blind bought this second hand on a whim. It’s fruity sweet, tropical, and generally not bad when you consider the price. It’s obviously a beachy, sun-screen vide type of scent that is suited to summer fun in the sun for all genders, but I see this more for younger people, although who cares! if you’re older than me and want to smell like this – hats off! It’s a light-hearted, soapy and fruity shampoo fragrance that is perhaps too sweet, but does have enough fresh fruit in it to prolong any nausea… at least for a few minutes.
The versatility of this is way too narrow though, especially for me, since I’m not a beach person and generally avoid direct contact will hot, humid, and sunny weather. OK, I probably won’t be hanging onto this. To be honest, I don’t know if this is in production any more, but I’m sure there are plenty of similar things on the market if this type of thing is your jam.
Ariana Grande Cloud
Next is singer Ariana Grande’s Cloud, which many claim is a dupe for BR540. And I admit that’s the only reason I blind bought this. I was looking for something that could take my breath away without taking away so much of my moola. Of course it’s a lot cheaper than the famous Kurkdjian fragrance, but I wouldn’t call it cheap. In a few year’s time it likely will be, though.
But to be honest, if I want a cheap version of something to imitate BR540 in the future, I’ll probably get the clone from Alexandria which smells better, and performs countless times better. This one fades relatively fast. And of course, this fragrance, launched in 2018 and created by Clement Gavarry, is not BR540. There are perceptible differences.
- lavender, pear, bergamot
- whipped cream, praline, coconut and vanilla orchid
- musk, woody notes
Out of the bottle I admit this does remind me of BR540, but a very immature version. There’s that lovely creaminess and burnt-caramel, candy floss effect. But it’s also more synthetic, sweeter, lighter, and less sophisticated. I get soft wafts of that coconut which is not present in BR540, but it lasts an insanely short amount of time on my skin and can cause headaches. I’m not typically prone to headaches from fragrance, but I feel it if I put too much on, and sadly I feel I need more of it on to perceive it as it refuses to project past the hairs sticking out in protest on my skin. I’d have been disappointed had I bought this at retail price, which is steep here in Japan, but fortunately, I got it second-hand and I’m glad I got the chance to sniff it. The bottle is tacky AF, by the way, but also appropriate for what I presume is the target market: candy-loving tweens.
Sarah Jessica Parker Covet
As I’m sure you know, actress Sarah Jessica Parker became famous for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in the television series, “Sex and the City” which yes, I am familiar with. I am more forgiving of Sarah Jessica Parker as a fragrance celebrity simply because she is passionate about perfume, and according to Chandler Burr in The Perfect Scent, she worked very closely with the perfumer when creating her first scent. In a collaboration with Coty in 2005, her perfume Lovely was launched, and was unsurprisingly a bit hit. The advertising that made use of her voice and image won an award for Best National Ad Campaign.
Covet came out in 2007. It’s a floral woody musk fragrance by Frank Vöelkl with Ann Gottlieb. The bottle, which I quite like for once, was designed by Chad Levigne.
- sicilian lemon, lavender
- dark chocolate and pelargonium leaf, lily-of-the-valley, honeysuckle, magnolia
- musk, cashmere wood, teak wood, vetiver, amber
This fragrance was supposed to capture impish and garrulous side of Sarah, marketed under the slogan “I had to have it!”
Covet has a synthetic superglue-with-fresh-mint start that eventually transitions into a powdery, herbal, comforting fistful of crushed leaves, dry bark, and small aromatic flowers. It’s definitely got some discordant notes in it to make it interesting. It’s fougère meets gourmand: you’ve got lavender, lemon, chocolate and geranium in the opening! There is a vegetal, carroty, root thing going on, too. It’s relaxed, optimistic, spring and day-time fragrance that is both cheap and unique. It’s also refreshingly not sweet.
The fragrance is not long-lasting, but in line again with the genre, doesn’t cost more to replace when the bottle is gone if you’re a fan. I like the scent, but I have others to try, so won’t be repurchasing.
Overall, fragrances who use celebrity to sell are going to have to work a tad harder to open my wallet. The three I shared above caught my attention, and I’m happy I got to sniff them, use them a little, and share them with you, but they won’t be with me for much longer.