Fashion & Beauty

Fashionistas pick up star scent

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The modern equivalent of immortalizing one's handprint in a Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk is emblazing your name on a perfume label or a pair of jeans.

At least that's the strategy a growing number of celebrities are adopting. And while celebrity fashion brands aren't new-Elizabeth Taylor has been hawking perfume since she rolled out her Passion fragrance in 1987-the number of musicians, actors, soccer stars, even business tycoons licensing their names for retail products is astounding.

"It's much easier to develop a celebrity brand than starting something new from scratch," says Kenneth Hirst, president of Hirst Pacific, a branding and design company based in New York that designed the last two perfume bottles for Celine Dion.

Celebrities already have a fan base, he adds, so companies don't have to spend as much on advertising, something that is particularly appealing to fragrance marketers, for instance, whose sales were down 0.7% to $333.7 million in the 52 weeks ended May 15, according to Information Resources Inc., which tracks supermarket and drug store sales excluding Wal-Mart Stores. Fragrance brands for Elizabeth Taylor and Celine Dion are top 10 sellers, according to IRI.

And while a brand's success hinges partly on the star's ability to stay a popular figure in the spotlight, Mr. Hirst says marketers anticipate that some of the licensing deals have a limited shelf life, as some stars will peak and fade away.

"From a marketing standpoint," he says, "it's not such a big concern because there will be another celebrity coming up behind them."