By  on May 20, 2005

NEW YORK — Believe it or not, there was a time early in Shania Twain's career when the most memorable thing about the singer was her unusual-sounding name. "Nobody knew me as an artist," Twain recounted during a recent interview. "They just thought I had this great name, and 'wow, did it ever sound like the name of a perfume.'"

The comment stuck. Some 65 million album sales later, Twain — standing alongside Coty Beauty executives — proudly introduced her first scent, Shania by Stetson.

"I always dreamed I'd have a fragrance," said the country-pop signer during a launch event held at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., last week.

The fragrance company approached Twain with the concept last spring, hoping to harness her star power to reintroduce its Stetson brand to women. "We only had one person in mind," said John Galantic, president of Coty U.S.

Despite her Canadian roots, Twain has a "Western heart," noted Sarah Irby, senior marketing manager, Coty Beauty U.S., adding her country appeal and independent spirit make her a perfect match for the Stetson brand.

Like Coty's other megawatt celebrity partners, Twain brings a thriving fan base to the union. Her credentials are staggering: She's the best-selling female country music artist of all time, a five-time grammy winner and her album, "Come on Over," is the sixth biggest-selling album of all time.

Twain's broad appeal is not lost on mass market retailers. "Stetson is a huge brand for us. We are very excited about this launch," said a buyer from one of the top three mass chains. Industry sources expect Shania by Stetson to generate between $20 million to $30 million in first-year retail sales — that kind of a sales surge could spike Stetson's total sales by nearly 50 percent. Industry sources estimate Stetson is currently a $40 million brand.

Noting the similarities between music and scent, Shania said her fragrance was designed to "inspire a mood of confidence and independence." The performer exhibited both traits when she burst onto the country music scene more than a decade ago baring her midriff, a "no-no" in Nashville.

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