"George Dodd is a world-renowned perfumer and the founding father of the psychology of smell. Drawing on decades of experience, he creates personal perfumes at his Aroma Sciences studio in Wester Ross, based on a series of in-depth interviews with his clients. He has agreed to give me the lowdown on a selection, by no means complete, of the celebrity fragrance range. In turn, I have smuggled him as many free samples as I can carry: a whiff of Kate Moss in my pocket, a sachet of Paris Hilton in my hands; I've snatched the Beckhams (his and hers), a bottle of Covet by Sarah Jessica Parker, the scents of Kylie, Britney and several others.......
I needn't have bothered with quite so many. "They're all very similar," says Dodd. "All very clichéd and innocuous. Around 80% of the formulation of modern fragrances comes from four incredibly cheap chemicals which are widely used in detergents. A woody note of some kind, synthetic musk, a balsamic note, a floral note ..." Of course, there are some distinguishing features: J-Lo goes heavy on the synthetic musk ("I don't know if you've ever got into a lift with an elderly lady ); Posh's fragrance is anything but ("There's nothing complex here, nothing sophisticated"); and Britney goes large on the fruit ("It actually makes my mouth water")."
Sylvia Patterson gauges the phenomenon as well and while she is personally appalled by the celebrity fragrance trend and its all-too-obvious moneymaking aspect, she only sees friends defecting to the enemy,
"A friend of mine, a hitherto sane mother of two, swears by the Kylie osmosis. "I couldn't wait to buy Darling'," she faints, "because I love Kylie. I think she's a lovely person and the perfume is all light and airy like she is. When I'm wearing it I do feel a bit more Kylie', a bit more coquettish."
Turning, appalled, to my most cynical male friend (an employee of British Aerospace), things are actually no better. "I haven't worn aftershave for years," he muses, "but if I did I probably would go for a real name I identified with, or wanted to be. Steve McQueen if he was alive. Today becoming unfeasibly interested? Oh, I know, Willem Dafoe!"