Adweek decided to bite the bullet and tell what's what. You might not agree with everything they say but at least it's an attempt to look more closely at the evolutions of the celebrity fragrance market. In a way also, they believe that this segment of the market is part and parcel of "Western civilization"; they only wished, it were not so debased -- purist position here,
"In the old days, celebrity perfumes were plush, rarified things—scent couture, if you will. The lucky fan might get a whiff of the magic scent, but the juice wasn't for sale. Today, of course, every celebrity has a perfume, and all it takes is a call to the Home Shopping Network to buy it. Ever wonder how this part of Western civilization devolved in this manner?...
The article by Robert Klara looks at the case of Audrey Hepburn vs. Ivanka Trump in celeb perfumedom. The first one is a winner in their book, the second one a looser. A bit simplistic, but Old Hollywood Glamor can't be beaten against...New York City Nouveau Riche, shall we venture to translate?
It's a pretty vinegary article for Ivanka, but more importantly, I think that it does not really understand that one of the greatest appeals of the celebrity media business and by extension, that of the celebrity fragrance market, is that it is so democratic. Virtually everyone with no particular talent except a passion for shining in front of the crowds, can make it and be found endearing precisely because of their huge, commonplace flaws.
Today, people fed on reality TV, pop music, TV series, junk food and tabloids love the fact that the ones up there are not so different from them, in fact they might be even worse than them. In fact, it's cathartic to see them act out all the excesses that most people can't afford risking their lives for. In fact, celebrities are often like luxurious clowns today: they amuse you, entertain you and make fools of themselves in public.
We won't linger here on the dark side of that phenomenon, but everyone knows that clowns can be sad and frightful too.
Audrey Hepburn belonged to a movie system that branded elitist glamor. She was an European, hence more reserved. She was an aristocrat on her mother's side. Ivanka is like a mature Gossip Girl, has new money but is also a go-getter. She projects an ideal of polished feminine professionalism that will appeal to a certain segment of the market. She is an American. The celebrity fragrance business is essentially an American phenomenon.
It can't make business sense to bring in more aristocrats from old Europe to look up to and to enliven the celebrity fragrance market. But we can always remember Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's - one of her most popular roles and certainly the most iconic one - in which she played the persona of a country girl who makes it by dint of will and thanks to her great personal taste! This was the perfect association of aspirational consumerist ideology allied with democratic ideals.
Read more in How the Perfume Business Lost its Class
You can also read our review of Le De by Givenchy