From Paris to Britney, from P.Diddy to Justin Bieber, were you really a 2000s celebrity if you didn't have your own fragrance?

2002. The year of Nelly and Kelly’s Dilemma, the first season of American Idol and (most importantly) the release of Glow by Jenifer Lopez. With the tagline, ‘Fresh-Sexy-Clean’, Glow by JLo birthed one of the biggest trends of the 2000s – celebrity fragrances.

Although they may be considered to be a forgotten part of pop culture today, celebrity endorsed perfumes once held a significant position in the cultural zeitgeist. In 2006, it was believed that celebrity fragrances were the ‘fastest growing segment of the perfume market’. With their dubious claims and sickly sweet smells, the opportunity to smell like a celebrity was rife in the 2000s. While they may not have appealed to everyone’s taste, with Chandler Burr, a writer for The New York Times, famously referring to celebrity fragrances as ‘unadulterated garbage,’ thanks to popularity of reality tv and increased media coverage, many people felt the burning desire to smell like a celebrity – something which arguably no longer exists.

Of course, it would be an exaggeration to claim “the celebrity fragrance is dead”.The continued popularity and success of fragrances by Ariana Grande, Rihanna and Billie Elissh, indicate that there is still a modest yet noticeable interest in celebrity perfumes. What is clear, however, is that celebrity fragrances no longer possess the power they once had.

It would seem as though behind every successful celebrity fragrance, there was equally memorable advertising. Iconic lines such as ‘No thanks, I choose my own destiny’, from Britney Spears’ 2006 fragrance Radiance or ‘A fatal attraction to cuteness’, from Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers, have left an indelible mark in the minds of a generation. After watching countless celebrity perfume ads, which was by no means a chore, there was a running theme found in all of them: to elicit the desire for the celebrity lifestyle. Perfume ads of the time, strategically enticed their loyal fans. For 45 seconds, viewers were whisked away from their mundane suburban lifestyle and promised the make out session of their dreams with Justin Bieber or transported high up into purple clouds with Mariah Carey. Padded with empty, yet somewhat magical sounding sentences, fragrance ads of the 2000s created a sensory experience which successfully capitalised on the intrigue surrounding our idea of celebrity.

Yes, this may all sound somewhat ridiculous to us today. However, celebrity fragrances like Beyoncé’s Heat or Xtina’s Xpose, along with their accompanying adverts, serve as tangible reminders showcasing the nature of celebrity culture of the time – excessive and slightly ridiculous. Ask yourself this: Could a celebrity get away with saying, “Let’s be real, the way a girl smells is important to a guy! By creating a fragrance I love… I can bring them [the fans] closer to my world,” when promoting their fragrance today? Probably not, right? Well, when promoting his 2009 fragrance Someday, this was the angle Justin Bieber decided to take. If anything, this slightly obnoxious-sounding statement shows why people loved celebrity-endorsed perfumes; they served as an accessible and affordable gateway into the celebrity world.

With access to celebrity culture primarily existing through snappy comments found in tabloids or takedowns written by Perez Hilton, the distance between fan and celebrity was at an all time high during the 2000s. Therefore, the opportunity to buy something you believed your favourite untouchable celebrity poured their blood, sweat and tears into, whether they did or not, was yearned for by fans. What’s more, celebrities knew how profitable this desire was, subsequently, producing multiple lines of their own fragrances.

But where do we stand in regard to celebrity fragrances today? It does feel like we have experienced a slight shift, right? Perhaps celebrity endorsed scents could be considered to be a forgotten art given the change in the way in which we view celebrities today. It would appear as though we have become slightly disillusioned by the world of celebrity. What helped celebrity fragrances sell in the 2000s was the idea that people were getting a tiny morsel into celebrity life. However, with celebrities being more exposed than ever before through their Instagram lives or bizarre Twitter rants, it could be said that the celebrity mystique no longer exists to the same extent as it once did.

That is not to say celebrity endorsed products, or celebrity headed brands are no longer successful, if anything, the success of SKIMS, Kim Kardaskian’s shape-wear brand, proves that they are. However, while SKIMS does prove that celebrity brands will always be profitable, the marketing of the brand reflects the shift in the way in which we want to be marketed to. Celebrities are no longer selling us ‘the fantasy’, like they did with their perfume in the 2000s, they are trying to sell us reliability.

Whether you’re looking at the latest SKIMS campaign featuring Ice Spice and Pinkpanthress or a Rare Beauty product demonstration video, an attempt to portray authenticity, diversity and simplicity are their primary focus. Celebrities no longer serve as a means of escape for the general public, and some argue that even if they did, their “fans” would accept it.

If anything, the decline in relevancy of celebrity fragrances is, perhaps, an indicator of the declining relevance of celebrity culture. With the line between celebrities and the public blurring, changing consumption habits and an increased awareness surrounding the pitfalls of the cult of celebrity, it is no surprise that we have seen a slight dip in celebrities putting their faces onto random objects. Whether or not this is a good thing is subjective, however, the shift in public opinion, in addition to reduced public interest toward celebrity merchandise cannot go unnoticed.

Let’s face it, pop culture is no longer a monolith. With the arrival of the digital age, which has ushered in a new era for celebrity culture, we are no longer fuelled by celebrity gossip or privy to celebrity endorsed products. While I doubt celebrities will have the same hold over society as they once did during the 2000s, It is always enjoyable to revisit and reminisce about a time when celebrities held true “star status,” and the public would eagerly seek any means to feel a close connection to them. That being said, being a fan of nostalgic scents (and anything Britney, I am going to see if I can get my hands on a bottle of Midnight Fantasy in 2023… wish me luck!

Joelle Bello @joelle.bello