Getting to the Heart of J.Lo

Jennifer Lopez talks about everything from her irritation with the prying press to her children on the eve of launching her 18th fragrance, Glowing.

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“You don’t think about things like that — when you’re creating, you’re just in the moment,” said Lopez of the longevity of her fragrance brand. “You’re doing it right then for right then. You always hope that things have a lasting impression and you go into it with those types of big thoughts — ‘Oh, this could be like Coco Mademoiselle or Chanel No.5!’ You aim for that, but you don’t really think of it when you’re in the moment.”

Glowing, she said, is “a step beyond Glow.”

“Glowing is such a clean fragrance,” said Lopez. “That’s what I’ve always been about. I like soapy, clean smells. This is a very woodsy scent. So it’s not exactly what I created 10 years ago — it’s the evolution of that. At the essence, it’s still natural, earthy, clean and real, but a little different side of that. It’s the woodsy side of it, which I think is kind of New York-y, darker and sexier.” Glowing is a floral woody amber concocted by Lopez with Givaudan’s Calice Becker and Caroline Sabas. It has top notes of bergamot, mandarin and cypress; a heart of orange flower, muguet de bois and cassia flower, and a drydown of sandalwood, amber sultan, vanilla, vetiver, patchouli and cashmere musk. Eaux de parfum in three sizes — 1 oz. for $39, 1.7 oz. for $49 and 2.5 oz. for $65 — will be sold. The 1.7-oz and 2.5-oz. sizes light up for 15 seconds when the atomizer is pressed, “in homage to Glow,” explained Lopez. The juice has a faint lavender tint, “because there’s a tiny hint of violet in it,” she added. A 6.7-oz. body lotion, $27.50, will also be offered.

“After 10 years, we had to break all the boundaries,” said Catherine Walsh, senior vice president of American fragrances for Coty Prestige, a division of Coty Inc. She was referring to the light-up bottle, hence the name.

“We’re in the history making business, baby!” an ebullient Lopez put in, spritzing herself. “I drove them a little bit crazy with this one. I always feel pressure to create a great fragrance — I always want it to be so special, this one especially because of Glow. We want it to be great, and I think it is.”

Bernd Beetz, chief executive officer of Coty, was an architect of the brand. “I just started at Coty and I was looking for a new success model for fragrance,” said Beetz, speaking of the celebrity fragrance genre as a whole. “It struck me that there was a void that we could fill. I was sure it was a defining moment for the organization. I think it was a defining moment for the whole industry.”

In fact, Beetz credits the successful Lopez project for laying the groundwork for the company’s other celebrity brands, which include Halle Berry and Beyoncé, and the upcoming Lady Gaga and Madonna fragrances. While some have been sounding a death knell for the celebrity category over the past few years, Beetz remains adamant that it is a sustainable business model. “We’re going to prove it again with Madonna. We’re going to prove it again with Lady Gaga. Fragrance is a defining tool to create the image for an artist or a celebrity. It is not an afterthought. It is a central part of building a brand. And if you build it one way it’s going to extend in other areas.”

He also insists that it’s critical to keep a finger on the pulse of celebrity, music, art and fashion trends at all times. “You need to stay close to them, because some are not going to last. I’m convinced that Lady Gaga, Madonna, Beyoncé and Halle Berry [fragrances] are going to have a 10-year anniversary. The others are not going to make that, frankly.”

The same is true of designer fragrances, he opines. “Look at how much gets launched and how much ends up sticking.”

He looks chiefly for edge and commitment from those he signs. “They make it the central part of their activity. This is a piece of art, the way artists express themselves. If I don’t sense this type of commitment, I won’t sign.”

And he put his money where his heart was with Lopez. “I did bet a lot. I was prepared to bet the farm. I think I did,” he said with a laugh. “And it paid off big time. It’s collaboration. We had the collaboration and understanding that Jennifer would make us part of the development and evolution of her as a person, her life. That’s what the consumer is trying to get.” He also believes, in principle, that the franchise could go on forever. “Look at how many eye shadows we have,” he said.

In the U.S., Glowing is a Kohl’s exclusive from its May launch; it will begin overseas distribution in a to-be-determined number of doors in July.

Advertising, shot by Sølve Sundsbø with creative direction by Olivier Van Doorne, will break in May fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines. The visual depicts a glistening, come-hither Lopez. Neither Lopez nor the Coty executives discussed figures, but industry sources estimate that Glowing could hit a target of $25 million, 60 percent of the total in the U.S., at retail after a year on counter, driven by a $15 million advertising and promotional war chest.

While Lopez has been an undeniable hit with her fragrances, her fashion lines have done less well in the past, as she shuttered the Sweetface brand before linking with Kohl’s. Does Lopez find designing fashion more challenging than scents? “Fashion and fragrance, they go hand in hand because they have to do with style,” said Lopez. “They have to do with an expression of yourself. To me, they fit together very well. Is one tougher than the other? No, with each it’s just as difficult to come up with something great, something that represents who I am, my brand — but could be any woman. For me, that’s always the challenge — to make it me, but make it everyone else, too.”

She noted that she’s shaping up to have a busy year. “I’m working on a tour, trying to get that done. There’s a couple of movies that I’m looking at, to see if they come together this year — a film, you never know. I’m ready to sink my teeth into something juicy as far as film goes. There’s a lot of music coming up. I’ve been recording for the last couple of months, and I’m working with RedOne again. I used to do a lot of collaborations, but I haven’t in a long time. [Lately] I’ve been approached to do more collaborations. I love working with other artists.”

Lopez acts, sings, produces, designs — is there any uncharted territory left? She notes that longtime friend and business associate Benny Medina is suggesting directing. “He’s always said that he thinks that the biggest thing I’m going to do is be a director,” she said. “But I’m like, you know what? I just can’t take another job right now. Many years in the future, maybe.”

And she’ll continue producing with her Nuyorican Productions. Projects have included the reality TV show “South Beach Tow” and “Bordertown.” Of the name, she says: “Well, when you’re from New York and you’re Puerto Rican, you always hear this term ‘nuyorican.’ And when I went out to L.A., I felt very alone, in a sense — I was away from the Bronx, and New York, and there’s no Puerto Ricans out there hardly, just a lot of Mexicans. I had never even had Mexican food until I went out there — that’s how isolated everything is. You don’t realize that until you start traveling with your job. When you grow up in the Bronx in that one little section — that’s why my first album was ‘On the 6’ [referring to the subway line] and my production company is Nuyorican. It’s all like, you trying to hold on to who you are when you start traveling this big world and seeing all that’s out there. But when I went out there, I just felt like, again, attach yourself to who you are and your roots.”


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