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Critical Mass: Nigel Barker Makes Push Into Beauty With Scents

The photographer and reality TV host has teamed with Demeter Fragrance Library to create three fragrances inspired by New York City.

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NEW YORK — Photographer and reality TV host Nigel Barker has added fragrance marketer to his résumé.

Barker has teamed with Demeter Fragrance Library to create the Nigel Barker Signature Collection of Fine Scents. The fragrances, which launched on demeterfragrance.com last month, aim to roll out to retail in the second quarter of 2014.

They are part of Barker’s ambitious push into beauty. Barker also plans to launch two color cosmetics collections created with his wife Cristen, a makeup artist, called Beauty Equation, a prestige line, and BE Cosmetics, a mass line, which are both slated to roll out in early 2014.

The three fragrances alone could generate sales exceeding $18 million, according to industry sources.

Born in London, Barker has lived around the globe, but he believes his current home, New York, casts a spell over tourists and even jaded locals. “People come to New York and want to capture that moment in time. I tried to recreate that feeling in the scent,” Barker said on a recent chilly day in downtown Manhattan, not far from Wall Street, an inspiration for one of his fragrances. The other two are Times Square and New York Nights, which features the Empire State Building on the bottle.

Barker, who aims to capture the essence of Manhattan in photographs, hopes to parlay his passion for the city into success with the unisex scents. Barker’s dramatic photographs decorate the sleek black fragrance bottles.

Barker doesn’t position the launch as a celebrity fragrance. Instead, he views it as the melding of fashion, art and scent. He speaks passionately about his love of photography and how fragrance is an extension of his art. Accordingly, he didn’t pair up with the traditional celebrity fragrance houses, instead teaming with Demeter Fragrance Library, best known for its single note cologne sprays.

“Demeter is the antidesigner, anticelebrity fragrance, so we knew we needed a different approach to work with Nigel. We made complex, but linear scents in the Demeter tradition, making sure these were not ‘me-too’ fragrances in any way,” said Mark Crames, owner and chief executive officer of Demeter. “We tried to make the fragrances reality based, to actually capture the smells of the area, rather than a touchy-feely interpretation.”

Barker had a hands-on approach to selecting each formula. His goal was to build a brand rather than just stamp his name and photography on bottles. “It is amazing how much work goes into getting just the right scent,” said Barker, adding his previous “go-to” fragrance was Dior’s Eau Savage.

His current favorite — and the one that he was wearing while discussing this project — is Wall Street, which features a blend of vanilla bean, black peppercorns, herbs and oakmoss highlighted by patchouli and citrus nuances. Times Square is comprised of tuberose, neroli and ylang-ylang intertwined with earthy notes of patchouli and vetiver. New York Nights merges ylang-ylang, red poppies, tobacco leaves, black vanilla bean and coco petals with cool frost and vetiver. The fragrances are priced at $25 for a 1-oz. eau de toilette, and $39.50 for a 4-oz. version.

“We have high expectations for the brand,” said Crames, adding more scents and ancillary items are in the pipeline, perhaps featuring other locations. Barker’s wide allure is expected to help build attention to the scents: He has more than 1.3 million followers on social media. In addition to hosting the Oxygen show “The Face,” he had huge exposure in the U.S. and in Europe with “America’s Next Top Model.”

Crames said he’s still working on exact points of distribution but that they will include “interesting” retail choices. Barker said he is game for making store appearances. The Wall Street fragrance will be stocked in the upscale Look Boutique at Duane Reade located at 40 Wall Street — a natural fit.

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