Friday, July 2, 2010

Eau de Bruce (Willis): Scent of an Action Hero?

The latest celebrity to join the ranks of celeboscents (fragrances produced with the added cachet of bearing the name of a celebrity) is Bruce Willis, inextricably tied to his Die Hard days (pity, does no one recall the masterpiece that is Twelve Monkeys?) The new scent being launched today across Europe captures his "strength, self-assurance and single-mindedness". This translates into a smell that combines cedar, vetiver (an east-Indian grass), pepper, grapefruit, orange and geranium leaves, we're told. The NYMag is rehashing the linked BBC article which follows, precluding that it wouldn't smell that good anyway. To my mind, withholding judgement until sniffing, the really interesting -and potentially problematic- thing is how this would play in a demographic (the one hankering after celeboscents is routinely aged 16-25) which is so far removed from the actor's own age and "golden years of fame" (the 1990s)

In an article appearing on BBC, there is extended commentary on how the industry of celebo-scents works, out of which we have weaned the most memorable quotes:
One in five of women aged between 16 to 24 wears a celebrity scent [in the UK], according to market researcher Mintel. "It's about buying into a lifestyle they aspire to", it says. "Celebrities nowadays are looking for as many way as possible to monetise their fame," says Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and author of Celebrity Sells. "The attraction of doing a fragrance deal is that toiletries and cosmetics are more amenable to celebrity endorsement than some other less personal products. Plus the perfume houses have got more scents and bottles on their lab shelves than you can shake a stick at and they think putting a celebrity on the label is a really easy way to stand out from the crowd." Roja Dove links this to the celebrity-mania that infests our society, arguing that perfumes have always reflected societal mores. But things are getting a little prosaic too.
"Smell is a really powerful sense and one people really underestimate," says Prof Jacob. "The celebrity perfume market depresses me because it is short-sighted. The fragrances are usually thrown together and sold off the back of a big name. They're simply an excuse for not trying to create something truly original and beautiful."

Last but not least, let's once again break the myth that celebrity scents began with Elizabeth Taylor in the early 90s and Jennifer Lopen in the 00s, as Denise Winterman notes in her otherwise very interesting article. We have established on our own site (click for The Cult of the Celebrity Scent: Perfume History, with photographic proof no less) that that was not so, through numerous examples of celebrity scents from the past expanding their own brand, namely themselves. It's just that the phenomenon has mushroomed beyond all control nowadays...

Pic of Bruce Willis with baby via


  1. The earliest celebrity with an eponymous scent that I've been able to find was flapper superstar Colleen Moore back in the 1920s. Does anyone know of an earlier one?

  2. GREAT comment Mim! Thank you! :D
    I don't think anyone can beat you to that. Could we call the Cologne de la Reine for the Queen of Hungary an eponymous celeb scent? I doubt it, as it wouldn't be commercialized (it just got copied over and over as a "recipe")
    But let's see what others say, if they do.

  3. No probs! It's just a happy coincidence that I'm a Colleen Moore fan as well as a perfume one. Because she wasn't as pretty in photos as some of the later, more scandalous flappers (captivating on film, though), her influence on fashion tends to get forgotten. It was she who made the bob popular with regular moviegoing girls, too, in 1923, with her film 'Flaming Youth'.

    Every once in a while a Colleen Moore bottle comes up on eBay - along with her other cosmetics packaging they were mainly green and white, with shamrocks for her Irish ancestry.

  4. Eau de Yippee-Ki-Yay?

    Oh well. I might pay money for whatever Alan Rickman's suave Hans Gruber wore, but not Bruce Willis, in any of his incarnations.

  5. I have a thing for Bruce Willis, mmm yum, but I'm not keen on celebrity perfumes, they've never impressed me. However, I've never smelled Cumming and I heard that was really good.

  6. Anonymous04:40

    I loved Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction and The 6th Sense.

    I look forward to spritzing on a sample of his new scent. I wonder when it will make it to the stores in the U.S.?

    I think male 'stars' seem to have nice fragrances out -- such as Antonio Banderas, Sean 'puffy' Combs, Nelly, Usher ect. I don't know if it's there personal input or something else.

    Most female celeb fragrances aren't that good, to my nose anyhow.

  7. Exqueeeeze me but I think Die Hard (as well as Die Hard 2) is a masterpiece! And yes, I am being serious. I mean, Bruce Willis was my hero! :)

    Seriously, I'd try anything he comes out with, if anything then just for the fun of it.


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