RUMOR MILL: Speculation is heating up again in Europe that Swiss flavors and fragrance company Givaudan is about to acquire Haarmann & Reimer, the wholly owned fragrance and flavors subsidiary of Bayer AG.

“As we have always said, if something is for sale we’ll look into it,” a Givaudan spokesman said Thursday in response to the rumor. “[But] we can’t tell what will come of that.”

In December 2001, Bayer said it would divest three of its subsidiaries, including Haarmann & Reimer, in an attempt to focus on core businesses.

EASTERN VISION: Ever-acquisitive Parfumeries Marionnaud — the French perfumery giant — is rumored to have taken over 107 doors in eastern Europe, an industry source said. A Marionnaud spokesman had no comment on the rumor.

According to the source, Marionnaud has just inked a deal to acquire Ina and Diva perfumeries, formerly owned by George Antas. There are 29 sales points in Poland, 24 in the Czech Republic, seven in Slovakia, 18 in Hungary, 21 in Romania and eight in Bulgaria.

The source claimed the acquisitions make Marionnaud the first-ranked prestige beauty seller in all of those markets, save for Poland, where it is second behind Sephora.

AUCOIN’S ADMIRERS: Christmas came early for makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin in the form of a Dec. 20 personal appearance at Henri Bendel. About 300 Aucoin fans — including Mary Tyler Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow — gathered to meet the famed makeup artist and view the first items in his retail line. Sales of Aucoin’s new product line reportedly reached $15,000 in just two hours. Bendel’s sold three of Aucoin’s limited-edition gift sets at $1,000 each, 12 makeup brush collections at $350 each, about 100 paperback editions of Aucoin’s most recent book, “Face Forward,” and a number of mascaras and eyelash curlers. A portion of the proceeds benefited the Hetrick-Martin institute, amounting to about $5,000. Aucoin’s full color cosmetics line will bow this fall.

LIP QUENCHER: Better Botanicals, an herbal face, hair, body, bath and aromatherapy line based on the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, has gotten lip conscious. The company has just launched Ayurvedic Lip Therapy, a collection of six balms designed to soothe and protect lips. Each lip balm, which retails for $4.99, has a main ingredient of kokum butter, an emollient that has greater penetration and higher triglyceride levels than both shea butter and cocoa butter. The lip balms are available in six flavors such as fennel, cardamom and ginger and are available at natural food stores nationwide and online at

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HOLLYWOOD BOUND: Zirh, the silver-bottled men’s treatment line, has been dabbling in the land of the silver screen. The brand’s Face Stick, an SPF 28 product designed to protect sensitive skin, will be handed out to 300 ski-happy celebrities at the Sundance Film Festival starting in Park City, Utah, next week. Also, as a major part of a promotional deal with Twentieth Century Fox, Zirh products were featured in the movie “Joe Somebody,” appearing on the sink of Tim Allen’s character.

L’OREAL SIGNS BIEL: Actress Jessica Biel will make her debut as L’Oreal’s newest spokesperson this month in ads for its Open hair color brand. In the ads, Biel will appear as a blonde for the first time. Best known for her work on the television series “7th Heaven,” Biel’s first film role was playing Peter Fonda’s granddaughter in “Ulee’s Gold.” She also starred with Freddie Prinze Jr. in “Summer Catch.” Her latest feature, “The Rules of Attraction” with director Roger Avary will be released this spring.