JOAN RIVERS LAUNCHES NEW FRAGRANCE LINE
Byline: Julie Naughton
NEW YORK — “Thank God for New York taxi drivers and stewardesses,” laughed Joan Rivers, sipping a latte in the library of her Upper East Side apartment Monday morning, as she explained her unorthodox test marketing technique for her new fragrance, Now and Forever.
According to Rivers, whenever she would wear the scent — in development for nearly two years — in cabs, drivers would turn around and ask, “What are you wearing?”
To say nothing of the four flight attendants who greeted her outside the bathroom door on a red-eye to New York after the Academy Awards. “It’s you!” one said. But not for the reasons you might think. “We were wondering who was wearing that wonderful fragrance,” said another. Never one to miss a promotional opportunity, Rivers gave Lara Flynn Boyle a bottle on that same plane.
Rivers, who formally introduced the fragrance last night at a festive cocktail party at her apartment, hopes the rest of the world will react the same way to Now and Forever, which will begin selling on QVC in two weeks.
Rivers, now in her 11th year of selling jewelry on QVC, broke into the beauty category in 1999 when she began selling Results, an AHA-based skin care line. She’s also dabbled in color cosmetics, offering limited numbers of nail and lip colors seasonally.
“I always knew I wanted to do a fragrance, but I didn’t want to be one of those celebrities who put their name on dreck,” she said. “It had to be something that I’d wear myself. I can’t tell you how many of my friends — no names, please — who did that, and it’s a mistake.”
In fact, Rivers set a greater challenge: it had to be a fragrance that would tear her away from her longtime signature scent, Joy. And the winning submission, created by Annie Buzantian of Firmenich, accomplished that goal.
Now and Forever has top notes of water lily, honeysuckle and lily of the valley; mid-notes of watermaze flower, tuberose, pineapple, peach and orange, and a drydown of warm rosewood, sandalwood and musk. Three stockkeeping units will be included in the collection: a 1.7 ounce eau de parfum spray, $45; a 6 ounce body creme, $28, and a set containing both items for $55. The bottle, a glass rectangle with Swavorski crystals studded into the gold metal cap, was designed by Marc Rosen. While Rivers wouldn’t discuss first-year sales expectations, industry sources said it could top $3 million in its first year on QVC.
And Rivers included tuberose in her new scent for reasons other than its status as the ingredient of the moment.
“For years, whenever I’d have an+shall we say, assignation,” she said with a raised eyebrow, “I’d buy tuberose and stick them in strategic places in my bedroom. They’re ugly, but they smell wonderful.”
Now and Forever will be sold on QVC every six weeks, and Rivers hopes to eventually take it to standard retail venues. “It was a natural to start on QVC, though,” she said. “All I had to do was say to the powers-that-be, ‘I want to do a fragrance,’ and they said, ‘Great.”‘
There’s a good reason for that. “Joan sells from the heart, and she’s involved with everything she does from concept to completion,” said Lee Richardson, senior vice president of marketing for QVC. “In the 10-plus years she’s been with us, she’s done well over $200 million in sales.”
But getting to the final juice wasn’t an easy road. “At the end of the testing sessions, I’d smell like a whore — I’d be wearing so many different scents,” she said.
And the naming wasn’t exactly easy, either. “Do you know how many fragrance names are still available? None!” said Rivers, who originally wanted to call the scent Now. “We’d all get so excited about all these names, and then we’d get the call — ‘That one’s already trademarked.”‘
Although “Joan Rivers” wasn’t taken, Rivers said she didn’t consider it. “I didn’t want it to be called Joan. First of all, that’s boring. You have to have at least two syllables for a decent fragrance name — like Elizabeth,” she said, drawing out the syllables. “Also, I wanted to convey that the scent was for everyone, not just Ladies who Lunch.”
Rivers isn’t done with beauty yet. Over the next two years, Rivers plans to do another women’s scent, as well as a scented candle, additional fragrance ancillaries and more color cosmetics. The first priority, though, is the candle.
“For years, I’ve been lugging one brand back from London, but they switched suppliers,” she said. “Now, the only thing they’re good for is developing my pecs when I lift the suitcases. I need to come up with my own — soon.”