THE UNUSUAL TREND AND WHERE IT’S GOING
When I was in middle school, what I wanted most for my upcoming birthday was Justin Bieber’s debut scent, Someday. The product description for the perfume on the Filene’s Basement website describes the scent as “perfect for the Justin Bieber fan who will love it as much as they love him!”
Evidently, I did get Someday for my thirteenth birthday. A friend had done me one better, buying me a set that included the Someday perfume, body wash, and body lotion. That same year, another adolescent love of mine, Taylor Swift, came out with her debut perfume, Wonderstruck. In 2011, the same year I was itching for Someday, the pop princess herself Brittney Spears came out with Cosmic Radiance, her tenth scent (as of 2020, the singer has 28 fragrances under her brand). 2011 also saw the release of Gwen Stefani’s Super G, Kim Kardashian’s Gold, and David Beckham’s Homme.
You don’t have to stay in my awkward years to find celebrity fragrances—some of the most famous scents were released in the nineties and early two thousands. Jennifer Lopez’s Glow was released in 2002 to massive success, and Elizabeth Taylor’s 1991 scent White Diamonds remains one of the best-selling perfumes to this day.
[Jennifer Lopez’s first-ever fragrance, Glow, was released in 2002. It was the first celebrity fragrance to gain massive popularity since the release of Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds in 1991, reviving the trend for the early 2000’s.]
But despite setting a younger me on a perfume-loving trajectory, the celebrity perfume industry has since fallen from grace. Studies show that sales within the celebrity perfume market have dropped by 22%.
It used to be that every celebrity, ranging from A to E-list celebrities, had a perfume brand to their name. Once Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine tweeted, “I would like to put an official ban on celebrity fragrances. Punishable by death from this point forward.” Then, in a twist of beautiful irony, Levine came out with his perfume line just two years later (now stating his fragrance was the “anti-celebrity fragrance,” to save face). Nowadays, a celebrity can come out with a fragrance and have it not even reach Twitter’s trending page.
WHAT KILLED CELEBRITY FRAGRANCES
It seems that everyone who enjoyed Someday back in its heyday has matured, and so have our tastes. It isn’t enough to slap a celebrity’s name on something and sell it for about thirty dollars on the market. Consumers have swapped in celebrity brand names for more chic, minimalistic brands. The market has shifted—buyers would rather spend more money for a perfume of higher quality than buy multiple cheaper celebrity brands.
“[Niche fragrances are] the real disruptors in the market,” said says Alecsandra Hancas, beauty industry analyst at market research firm The NPD Group, in an interview with The Kit. “They’re more luxe, come at a higher price point, and there’s more of a story behind them. They’re really resonating with consumers—growing double digits in 2018 and 2019, and have yet to slow down.”
[According to the Fashion Spot, Coco Chanel is the most top perfume for women for 2019. No celebrity fragrances made the list.]
There is also an allure to the celebrity lifestyle that has been lost thanks to social media. While I perhaps felt like I had to buy Wonderstruck to feel like I was supporting Taylor Swift, a fan of hers today could get the same feeling by commenting on her Instagram post. Not only does the second option provide more insight into Swift’s lifestyle, but it also doesn’t cost you $54 on Amazon.
FROM CHIC TO CHEAP
There’s been a shift in image concerning celebrity fragrances. What was once a coveted way to achieve sophistication as a celebrity is now the opposite—tacky. To the millennial and Gen-Z market, there is nothing less appealing than a lack of authenticity. Social media has allowed for more organic growths of popularity, rather than the old ways of marketing companies shoving relatable celebrities down your throat until you choke.
It’s unclear what distilled the waters of the celebrity perfume industry. Maybe it was the frequent release of scents from celebrities like Paris Hilton — with 25 scents to date, Hilton was releasing nearly two fragrances (one for women and one for men) a year from 2004 to 2019, slowly erasing the elusive idea of celebrity perfume. Maybe it was the releases of increasingly gimmicky perfumes aimed at preteen girls—Beiber’s Someday had a rose-shaped cap, and Swift’s Wonderstruck was decorated with charm bracelet-like charms. Maybe it was the shift towards prioritization of authenticity and inclusivity, leading to the rise of brands like Fenty by Rihanna.
Like everything else in the world, all good things must come to an end, and the overwhelming popularity of celebrity fragrances is one of them. But if it means giving poor Paris Hilton a break this year, maybe that’s for the better.