Celebrities and their scents
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Eau de silliness of it all
What do Danielle Steel, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Lopez (J. Lo to you) and Marilyn Manson have in common? The obvious answer is, they are all in a sentence that is a prime example of the most hackneyed way a journalist can start a story, and no need to thank me. But that's not the answer I'm looking for. (And let's remove from consideration the obvious fact that they are all women, although you can't always go by the name, Paris Hilton being a good example.)
Here's another hint: Soon to be added to the list are Hilary Swank, Derek Jeter, Hilary Duff and Mariah Carey. (Anyone unfamiliar with the names mentioned so far is blessed beyond imagination or has not been to the dentist recently.)
No, the answer I'm fishing for is, of course, that all these celebrities have a perfume fragrance named after them. But somebody always gets hurt. Where's the fragrance for Joe Pesci? Barry Bonds? Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Shrek? I want to reach out to the overlooked celebrities and say, "I know you're hurting. I know you smell like the rest of us. Just keep you chin down."
As I recall (OK, as I read moments ago in an Associated Press story), Liz Taylor was among the first celebrities with her own perfume, in 1987, followed by Cher, Michael Jackson, Julio Iglesias, Linda Evans, Priscilla Presley, Catherine Deneuve, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Billy Dee Williams, Trisha Yearwood, Herb Alpert, Muhammad Ali, Sophia Loren, Dionne Warwick, Elvira and Joan Collins.
You look at that list and you feel humbled. You say: "How could I possibly have a perfume named after me -- I've never had a well-publicized weight problem, undergone extensive plastic surgery, floated like a butterfly, lost my way to San Jose, had slumber parties with 11-year-olds, starred in a movie or TV show or, like so many of the fashion designers with their obsessions and their eternities, had a deep-seated sexual problem that involves jumping into a purple body stocking at odd hours."
You make a good point. But don't give up. Keep in mind that Elvis Presley, who many people believe is dead, introduced his fragrance posthumously in 1991. (If I'm not mistaken, it was a masculine blend of cheeseburger and Dr. Pepper.)
One big stinking business
Celebrity and celebrity-endorsed brands represented 23 percent of the top 100 women's fragrances in the United States in 2005, up from 10 percent in 2003, according to the AP. It's the fastest-growing segment of the global fragrance industry, accounting for $1 billion of the incredible $30 billion people shell out to smell more offensive in a more expensive way than they could with good old body odor. But some experts warn the market is heading for saturation as increasingly unlikely celebrities latch onto the trend. (When did they first notice?) You should know by now there is a blog and a Web site for needs you never know you had, such as a fragrance blog called NowSmellThis (nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com). Robin Krug, the editor, wrote, "One wonders how many times the industry simply churns out a minor variation on an existing big seller, and then attaches a celebrity name after the fact."
Robin is pretty cynical, no?
What does J. Lo smell like?
Despite her absence from movie screens, Elizabeth Taylor's fragrance White Diamonds remains a top seller. (For some reason, Michael Jackson's does not.) But other celebs were displaced on perfume shelves in the 1990s by fashion designers such as Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein.
Fashion-branded perfumes were dominant through the 1990s -- until the market became saturated earlier this decade. That's when fragrance houses turned their attention back to Hollywood.
It wasn't until Coty bottled the essence of Jennifer Lopez in 2002, on the back of her hot movie and music career, that a company duplicated Ms. Taylor's success with Glow.
Now, even prestigious brands are falling over themselves to sign high-profile talent. Guerlain has secured Hilary Swank to promote its new fragrance Insolence. "Wouldn't Donald Trump have been a better fit there?" Again, you make a good point. But, in fact, billionaire Trump did have a scent briefly in 2004, dubbed fetchingly, "Donald Trump: The Fragrance." What a pleasure it must have been to slap it on in the morning and think about getting fired that very day. Surprisingly, it bombed.
Marilyn Manson's cosmology
So how did the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar get his own fragrance? "I was asked about my interest in creating a fragrance and I thought, 'There's nothing more absurd than that.'" Manson told MTV.com last November.
But the idea took root, because the guy seems to know his way around cosmetics. "That doesn't mean I'm not taking it seriously, but if I had to make a cologne or a fragrance, I would make something that would be for men and women."
Launching a "cosmetics line is something I've always wanted to [do], purely because I wear makeup every day. I wanted to make something of my own for myself and I thought, being that probably I'm the most thought-of male makeup wearer these days aside from TV newscasters, it just seemed like it would make people feel OK to wear lipstick if it had a man's endorsement on it. To me, makeup is just like painting. I have done so many things to my face and to my body with makeup that I feel like it's something I should be able to allow people to rely on my opinion for."
He makes a good point.
Random acts of kindness
Recently, my daughter and 4-year-old grandson were returning to Houston from a family visit to Pittsburgh. Riding the escalator to the departure level of the airport, my grandson tripped getting off, and my daughter fell trying to catch him. He suffered a head wound, and her ankle got chewed up by the escalator.
Paramedics and state troopers were there within minutes and quickly tended to both, stopping the bleeding, cleaning the wounds and bandaging both so they could catch their flight and go to a hospital in Houston.
Upon noticing that my grandson would be entering the plane wearing a T-shirt soaked in blood, the paramedic went into a nearby gift shop and bought him a new shirt to wear. Both members of my family have recovered, thanks to the kindness of those paramedics.
Charles-Louis Morand Metivier
This e-mail is a cry of love to Pittsburgh. I was lucky enough to be an exchange student at Pitt in 2004. I spent the most beautiful year of my life there. From the crowded student streets of Oakland to the cool streets of Squirrel Hill; from the skyscrapers Downtown to the splendid shops of the Strip, I found there what most places in the world miss: a heart. Pittsburgh was my all.
Any single thing reminds me of good memories: the Steelers (I was lucky enough to meet Big Ben!), Mount Washington, Walnut Street, Hemingway's (THE place to be in Oakland!), the Pirates (I am No. 1 fan in France!), the Penguins, the Waterfront, Chesterfield Street (I used to live there; best place in Oakland!), the North Side ...
Are there any other places in the world where you say "Thank you" to a bus driver when you get off?
I would like to tell you that Pittsburgh is my America. Now and forever. I have never been so welcomed than I was in the 'Burgh. People are more than nice. They are unique. I met friends there that will forever be in my heart.
When I left Pittsburgh, I not only left good memories there. I also left my heart. I hope I can be back sometime in the future. I feel a terrible gap in my heart. Pittsburgh will always be a pleasure for me! Even if I no longer live there, I'll forever feel a yinzer.
I was filling my Durango at the Sunoco on Rodi Road in Penn Hills, grumbling about the high cost of gas. I put my wallet on the top of my truck after using my debit card, swearing to remember it when I was done. But I got distracted saying hello to old friends at the neighboring pump. When I finished fueling, I jumped into my truck. It was two hours before I noticed I didn't have my wallet. Frantically, I called the station, racing back to the scene of my stupidity. No one had seen the wallet, and I scoured the entire route. I went onto work, sick to my stomach, unable to breathe. My life was in that wallet.
On a hunch, I checked my home phone messages, and a man named Keith had found my wallet! He said it was "in the middle of the road on the yellow line." He thought it was funny. I thought he was an angel. I sagged with relief. Later, this man met me at the same Sunoco, gave me my wallet and would not take money, saying he just hopes someone would do that for him.
I marvelled at how he looked up my phone number and took the time to return it to me that day. He could have mailed it, yet he knew I was frantic. I want to thank you again, Keith. I was leaving town that weekend, and I would have been incredibly inconvenienced had you not acted so quickly. In this crazy world, it's great to know that there are still Good Samaritans. God bless you, Keith.
First Published August 22, 2006 12:00 am