By  on June 24, 2005

NEW YORK — If this fall's fragrance business was a reality show, it would have to be called "Celebrity Smackdown."

What began as a redux of a popular Eighties fragrance genre — celebrity scents — with Glow by JLo in September 2002, has erupted into a full-scale version of star wars.

And it's about to get more intense. This fall, Jennifer Lopez, the celebrity who single-handedly revived the genre by racking up first-year global sales of $100 million with her maiden fragrance, is going head-to-head with Britney Spears, the celebrity who blew out $30 million worth of her first fragrance in a mere three months last fall, earning her number-one launch props.

Spears' sophomore effort, Fantasy Britney Spears (see related story on opposite page), and Lopez's fourth scent, Live Jennifer Lopez (see related story on opposite page), are both being hotly anticipated by department store retailers, most of whom credit the duo with drawing in a younger consumer who previously had not shopped at department store fragrance counters, and luring lapsed shoppers back into the stores.

While Lopez's first fragrance had drawn skepticism before its launch, its naysayers were soundly rebuffed by the results — and hordes of fragrance companies rushed to sign their own celebrity deals. The field currently includes, among others, Coty's stable for its Lancaster and Coty divisions — Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kimora Lee Simmons, Shania Twain, David and Victoria Beckham, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Celine Dion — Elizabeth Arden's Spears deal; the Estee Lauder Cos.' agreements with Enrique Iglesias, Beyonce Knowles and Donald Trump; Parlux's deal with Paris Hilton, and Alan Cumming's deal with Christopher Brosius.

"My feeling is that this trend is going to last as long as celebrities do — I don't see it ending, only accelerating," said David Wolfe, creative director for Doneger Creative Services. "Anybody who crosses the celebrity radar is in a viable position these days to do a fragrance, given the public's overwhelming appetite for stars. What it's saying is that the consumer has no sense of self-identity. The same thing is happening in apparel — everyone wants the style of a celebrity."

But how long does a star brand stay on top? While Glow by JLo did $100 million globally its first year, sales have cooled. Lancaster, Lopez's fragrance licensee, has kept the afterglow going by launching a raft of other Lopez-backed projects, including Still Jennifer Lopez, a scent intended for slightly older consumers, in October 2003, and Miami Glow, a flanker to Glow by JLo, this past February. They've also expanded the franchise with limited-edition color cosmetics kits, launched last year, and a body care line tied to the Glow by JLo franchise, launched in May 2004.

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