Scent of a Woman: Eau de Latifah

Latifah: smells like a good, stiff drink
Latifah: smells like a good, stiff drink

Used to be the big celebrities sold mink. Then it was milk. Now it's perfume. Parlux Fragrances of Fort Lauderdale, whose corporate offices are on North Andrews Avenue, had revenues of $153 million in 2008. The company has fashioned itself into one of the fragrance market's top contenders, churning out over the last half dozen years a successful stable of thoroughbred bottles, starting with Paris Hilton ("Heiress," "Fairy Dust"), Jessica Simpson ("Jessica's Fancy"), and tennis star Andy Roddick, whose silver, mushroom-shaped bottle resembles not so much a tennis raquet as a very chic sex toy. Most recently Parlux has scored partnerships with rap royalty: Queen Latifah, Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Kanye West.

We phoned Parlux's PR maven, Lori Zelenko yesterday in New York to ask her about Queen Latifah's perfume, "Queen," scheduled to debut this fall, and also about what happens to the market for a celeb perfume when, say, the celeb goes into rehab, gets trounced on the courts for the gazillionenth time by Roger Federer, or is busted for assault and battery.

"Well you look at the data, like when Paris Hilton goes to jail, and it just makes her more popular doesn't it?" Zelenko said breathlessly. "Just let me find my...I just got back from the Hamptons and I'm...NPD did a survey last year or fairly recently and the top selling fragrances were all from celebrities, or I mean Kanye has had his difficulties certainly and Queen has been arrested, I guess the answer to your question would be yes and no, she doesn't backtrack from her roots or who she is, Latifah doesn't try to be something she's not but you know anything can happen, she has tremendous talent and I don't see her derailing...

" know we had investors asking the same question with Paris, going, 'the girl can this work?' Celebrities go in and out of fashion but the ones we're affiliated with have something the public wants to embrace -- Jessica is the Princess Di of Dallas, Paris is just Paris, she's so adored and so fascinating, everyone from 8 to 80 just loves her. They are people that other people just love for themselves.

"Now take Jessica Simpson she's really like the girl next door isn't she? Jessica liked vanilla - I personally like citrus but citrus was not her thing-- so Fancy was a best seller last year. With Latifah she was more bold and Oriental: "Queen" has notes of tequila -- does she drink tequila? I have no idea, don't we all? -- and a golden essence, you might say a golden feeling with, let's see here. With bergamot and Mediterranean mandarin, and a kind of limey harmony, you know citrus and tequila and mid notes of bay rose and a spicy note of black jasmine, cognac -- maybe she's a cognac drinker, I don't know! -- and coriander mixed with spice and then a very rich patchouli, and some sandalwood, ending with sexy musk. Very bold and alluring and sensual. Latifah is no shrinking violet."

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