By  on July 6, 2007

Far from burning out, the star wars are still heating up on department store fragrance counters.

Six celebrities have already announced that they will introduce new scents before the end of the year — and by late September, fragrance counters at major department stores will likely resemble Hollywood sets.

First out of the gate: Covet Sarah Jessica Parker, being launched in Macy's this month and elsewhere in August, and L by Gwen Stefani, which hits Nordstrom stores this month and additional points of distribution in September. They will be closely followed in August by Sean "Diddy" Combs' Unforgivable for Women, and in September by M by Mariah Carey, Can Can by Paris Hilton, Usher She and Usher He.

So what's with all the stardust? In a word, money. Even if the scents don't survive more than a year or two, the money they generate in the short term seems enough for some companies. For instance, Jennifer Lopez's first scent, Glow by J.Lo, did $100 million in its first year. And these scents often hit near the tops of the charts shortly after release — as did Lovely Sarah Jessica Parker, Unforgivable for Men and Curious by Britney Spears, for instance.

"The celebrity fragrance category has really become the 'fashion' element of the fragrance business," Micheline Jordaan, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of fragrances for Macy's, said in June. "It animates the selling environment through visual presentation and generates excitement among our customers. The performance of the category is influenced by the exposure, prominence and level of involvement of the celebrity in promoting the project. Though I must add that it all starts with the right juice."

Jordaan doesn't seem daunted by the long list of star fragrances due this fall, many of which Macy's will stock. "Looking at the extensive lineup for fall, it appears that the category is experiencing a resurgence with introductions from several prominent trendsetters from the worlds of music and fashion," she said. "We feel [the celebrity category] is still viable and will continue to be an important part of the business."

Also last month, Wendy Liebmann, founder of WSL Strategic Retail, said, "The [celebrity fragrance] trend is still alive. It's just taken on a lot of new faces. The notion of what a celebrity is has expanded." She noted that shoppers have come to view fragrances as they do fashion or color trends — i.e., a quick in and out — rather than something that could remain in the market for 20 years or more. "It takes a different mind-set to succeed [these days]. A fragrance doesn't have to have a 10- to 20-year run anymore. It's unrealistic to think it will."

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