NEW YORK — Jennifer Lopez has come a long way since selling perfume as a teenager growing up in The Bronx.

The superstar, whose first experience with the beauty business was as a 16-year-old fragrance hawker in a store behind a tire outlet that, she said, sold “bootleggy” merchandise, showed Sunday that she still has a magic touch with sales. Lopez headlined a personal appearance at Macy’s Herald Square flagship that racked up an estimated $15,000 in sales in just 90 minutes, industry sources said.

“Fragrance is everything to me — I judge people on how they smell, not how they look,” said Lopez, clad in a pink-and-gray-striped turtleneck, white jeans and pink suede platform heels.

Only 200 delirious fans were given access to the highly controlled event on the 16th floor of Macy’s. Each had purchased one of two “Look Books,” color cosmetics palettes tied to Lopez’s first two fragrances. The gift sets, built around Glow by JLo and Still Jennifer Lopez, include both the palettes and a bottle of fragrance. The Glow So Pretty set, which includes bronze-toned cosmetics, retails for $59.50 and the Still Stunning set, with icy pink makeup colors, is $69.50. Lopez said that she is “testing the waters” with these sets for a possible color cosmetics launch, which executives in the Lancaster division of Coty said is on the drawing board. She also launched body care ancillaries to Glow by JLo earlier this year.

Sales of the color sets were fueled by a contest. Certificates have been hidden in random sets sold at department stores across the U.S. Twenty winners will receive all-expenses-paid trips to either Los Angeles or Miami, and will spend the day with Lopez, being made over by her personal hair and makeup artists. They also will receive wardrobes of JLo apparel, valued at $1,000, as well as $1,000 in cash. Winners will be announced in November, and the makeover event is expected to take place in early December.

Lopez is about to launch a third scent, Miami Glow, a flanker to her successful Glow by JLo. Next year, she also will start a fourth women’s scent, which will present an entirely new concept.

This story first appeared in the September 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

With a personal life that has become something of a public mania, Lopez seems to have naturally taken to the fragrance business. “I have a good nose, people tell me,” she said with a laugh, noting that, while most fragrance firms rely on demographic studies, “I go with my gut.”

And her instincts have proved to be on target. The Jennifer Lopez empire is said to do upward of $300 million a year at retail, a figure which includes beauty, apparel and her lingerie and jewelry licenses. The actress and singer also is credited with single-handedly reviving the celebrity fragrance genre. After her first scent, Glow by JLo, generated some $80 million at retail in its first year on counter, many others, including Beyoncé Knowles and Celine Dion, rushed to cash in on the trend.

Lopez also has taken a stronger hand in reshaping her apparel business, which sources estimate is an $80 million business at retail.

“I’ve moved to New York and I’m in the office all the time,” Lopez said, referring to the fact that she has moved into the old office of former Sweetface Fashion Co. LLC president and chief executive officer Denise Seegal. She has just launched a lingerie line and plans a ready-to-wear runway show for her fall 2005 apparel line in February.

“For us, it will be a rebirth — people will see what JLo is,” she said, adding, “It’s about establishing JLo as a lifestyle brand. The company is JLo. I am Jennifer.”

Andy Hilfiger, co-founder and director of Sweetface, where Lopez is a partner, said the apparel line’s quality will be upped, and its assortment will be narrowed. “We won’t be overassorted — we will be very focused,” said Hilfiger, noting that the effort would be aimed at “making the whole brand — all 12 categories — cohesive.” Although the brand is “at the high-end of contemporary juniors’, it has an ageless sensibility,” he added.

Charles Rosen, vice president of licensing and international at Sweetface, noted that the JLo brand has just opened a 3,000-square-foot store that the singer helped design at Crocus City, an upscale mall in Moscow. The firm will open more Lopez flagships globally going forward.

How many fragrances does Lopez plan? “It’s like being an artist — you do it until you drop dead and they drag you away,” she said, laughing.

When asked the secret behind her glowing appearance, Lopez replied, “a good makeup artist.” Then she added, “If you’re at peace and you’re happy where you are, that’s where the glow comes from.”