By  on April 7, 2006

NEW YORK — The celebrity fragrance craze has a new player — Mariah Carey.

The Grammy Award-winning singer has signed with Elizabeth Arden to develop and market her own line of fragrance products, the first of which are to be launched in spring 2007 in what the company described as "prestige department stores."

Financial terms of the deal, announced on Thursday, were not disclosed. However, industry experts have speculated that such agreements often include an up-front payout of $1 million to $2 million, and 1 to 3 percent of fragrance sales after the scent is on the counter.

Carey, whose projects include a self-branded line sold by costume jewelry retailer Claire's, will be involved with all aspects of the fragrance's development, Arden said in a statement.

"I've already been involved with the team at Elizabeth Arden in the early stages of the creative process," Carey said.

The deal further amps up the significance of celebrities in the beauty world — particularly in the fragrance arena. Coty is arguably the most entrenched, with Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kimora Lee Simmons, David and Victoria Beckham, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Shania Twain and the "Desperate Housewives" in its stable.

Arden's deal with Britney Spears, signed in March 2004, has yielded two top-five hits: Curious Britney Spears and Fantasy Britney Spears. Arden has had teen queen Hilary Duff under contract for beauty products since September (the first fruits of that deal have not yet been released), and it signed Catherine Zeta-Jones in February 2002 to be the face of its core Elizabeth Arden brand. In addition, NASCAR star Jeff Gordon has been the face of its Halston Z-14 brand since May 2004, and the original celebrity fragrance maven, Elizabeth Taylor, is also part of the company's constellation.

"Mariah has immense popularity with a very diverse consumer base — from teenagers to grandmothers," Ron Rolleston, executive vice president of global marketing for Elizabeth Arden, said in an interview. "She is global in terms of her appeal, which spans generations and cultures, which we believe will translate well into sales when the fragrance is launched....She has already met with the four major fragrance houses that we work with, and has very definite ideas."Rolleston noted that Feder­ated Department Stores, Belk and Dillard's are doors that would be likely to carry the scent.

Part of the reason retailers applaud the category is that many of the celebrities are drawing lapsed department store consumers back into the beauty department.

"In Mariah, Arden has someone who is a proven hit-maker and an undervalued asset," said Steve Stoute — managing partner of Carol's Daughter and chairman and chief creative officer, Translation — who has brokered celebrity endorsement deals. "Her music has always been bigger than her personality, and she not only appeals to a younger consumer, she has a consumer who has grown up with her. I believe that Arden has her at the right time. I just hope that they have the bandwidth to market all of these celebrity brands."

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