Time of death: September 9, 2015. “The celebrity party is over,” WWD pronounced, citing the $100 million drop in celebrity fragrance sales between 2011 and 2015. It’s time for the afterparty, a more exclusive gathering of celebrities who made smarter decisions about their fragrance lines. At the top of the guest list are the Olsen twins, those plucky slow lorises behind Elizabeth and James.
Nirvana Bourbon and Rose are the latest in a long line of shrewd choices over at Elizabeth and James. Rather than flooding the market with flankers after the huge success of the original Nirvana fragrances, the Olsens took a respectable three years to develop the next pair. The happy result: two solid-quality fragrances that actually surpass the originals.
Nirvana Bourbon is the clear breakout star of the duo. It’s a sheer, woody vanilla, closely related to niche vanillas like Arquiste The Architects Club and Le Labo Vanille 44. This is very good stuff, especially for the price ($25 rollerballs are yet another smart Olsen decision). Nirvana Rose is an elegantly musty rose; think warmer and less fresh than Stella McCartney Stella. I prefer Nirvana Bourbon for myself, but I respect the creative risk behind Nirvana Rose. Young American customers tend to be suspicious of rose notes, and while Nirvana Rose certainly isn’t heavy, it’s not a light, fresh rose, either.
That’s the secret to the Nirvana fragrances’ success, I think. They’re not lowest common denominator scents. They respect our intelligence. The nosedive in celebrity perfume sales is a lesson to brands who insult the customer’s intelligence by slapping a celebrity’s name on increasingly awful juice. You can’t get away with that anymore. Party on, Olsens!
Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. I tested Nirvana Bourbon and Rose at my local Sephora.
I am a little too excited to bring back an older Scents of Self feature: Ask Ari, the perfume advice column! First up is a very, very real submission that I definitely did not make up. If you have any perfume etiquette questions of your own, please feel free to submit them for future columns so that Kanye does not have to sue me.
I’ve been talking about launching my own fragrance since 2011, but lately I’m feeling intimidated by the success of my wife’s fragrance line. I’m afraid that I just won’t be able to keep up with the Kardashians. How can I get over my insecurities so that I can give the world the best celebrity fragrance of all time? (OF ALL TIME!!!)
Definitely Not Kanye West
Choosing the right fragrance manufacturer is critical in creating a fragrance worthy of Definitely Not Kanye West. Most of your celebrity counterparts choose mass-market companies like Coty or Proctor & Gamble. The end result is usually bland and boring, which is why most celebrity scents only last a season or two on department store shelves. They might make their namesake celebrity some money in the short term, but your reputation will be cheapened in the long run when they end up in the Walmart aisle.
However, we’ve been seeing some smarter, more interesting choices from a few celebrities recently. The Olsen twins made a very respectable fragrance line for their Elizabeth & James brand through a direct partnership with Sephora, and Pharrell’s fragrance for Commes des Garcons was so well-received that it was picked up by prestigious retailers like Barney’s and Luckyscent. Ask Ari recommends that you follow in their footsteps rather than in Kim’s, especially since her fragrance line was infamously dropped by Sephora after violating their exclusivity clause.
Ask Ari would also recommend that you avoid keeping up with Khloe Kardashian, at least fragrance-wise. Getting divorced a year after you and your husband released a fragrance named “Unbreakable” gives us perfume bloggers years of material!
Definitely Not An Enormous Fan,
P.S. It was surprisingly difficult to find a picture for this post. Please take more pictures of yourself holding perfume bottles.