For the second time in two weeks, the music community turned out in full force to support one of its own — Usher Raymond IV, known professionally as Usher — to ease his entry into the fragrance world.
A week after Sean "Diddy" Combs' over-the-top party for his new women's scent, Usher gathered together music royalty — including Beyoncé Knowles, Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri and Nelly — as well as Martha Stewart and Usher's proud mother, Jonnetta Patton, at Cipriani Fifth Avenue as he and his fragrance licensee, Liz Claiborne Cosmetics, presented Usher He and Usher She, his just-released scents. And rather than a spritz of fragrance and a cocktail, the entertainer commissioned a three-act interpretive dance (choreographed by Brook Notary), which was accompanied by five tracks he created solely for the launch.
"I'm here to support my man and show him some love and congratulate him on making yet another big boy move [getting into beauty]," said Nelly. "That's my man — you gotta have that type of charisma to carry off such a thing and he's definitely the man for it." And he's also looking forward to the fringe benefits: "Now I get all mine free. If not, I go to his house and take the one off his dresser, so it's all good."
Ludacris concurred. "I've always been a big supporter of whatever Usher does," he said. "He supports me with all my events and I'm just showing the love back. The man has accomplished so much that it only makes sense to take it a step further and create a fragrance."
"He's one of my little homeboys right there, he's like my little brother, so every time he wants to do something, I want to be there to support him," said Dupri.
Usher clearly put some thought into the evening's presentation. "So much goes into the creation of a fragrance —there isn't just one tone," he observed. "I wanted to express that with this nontraditional event. I knew that so many people were probably saying, ‘OK, another celebrity fragrance, yawn.' I wanted to offer something different."
The party ended up being a celebration for more than one reason: the scents, which had a soft launch last week, are already heading up the charts. "How do you beat number one?" a smiling Usher said. According to Art Spiro, president of Liz Claiborne Cosmetics, the men's juice is currently ranking in the top three and the women's is ranging between number two and number 12, depending on the store. Both scents are continuing to roll out to additional U.S. department store doors.Usher continued, "I see this launch as a big step for me as an entertainer and an entrepreneur. Fragrance is the one thing that no matter who you are, it works with you." Most brands choose either a men's or a women's scent to start with, but Usher decided to do both: "I wanted to make sure that I appealed to my entire demographic. Sure it was a risk, but I wanted to make sure that no one got left out."
Usher said he is still working on a number of other deals, including a clothing line, but said he's had "tunnel vision" with his scents, adding that he wants to build the Claiborne venture into "a solid foundation" for future forays into other merchandise categories. "I wanted to do a big lifestyle brand and wanted to do fragrances first in an effort to get as close as I possibly could to my consumers," he said. "A specific clothing line won't allow you to touch everyone." He added with a roguish laugh, "Clothing comes off. Fragrance stays on."
Usher's not yet done promoting his fragrances. This evening, he will make a personal appearance at Macy's Herald Square — and Micheline Jordaan, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of fragrances at Macy's East, said both the women's and men's fragrances "have exceeded our expectations so we are planning for a big fourth quarter. We're thrilled with their performances," she added.
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