The term ‘celebrity fragrance’ leaves a bad smell. What was once the sole preserve of Hollywood’s A-list has become an exercise for anyone remotely famous (or infamous) to put out something licensed and smelly – your Geordie Shore cast, sex tape connoisseurs, I’m Not A Celebrity, Get Me Off Your TV Screen and the like.
It’s easy to turn your nose up and sniff at the heavily discounted celebrity scents behind the till, but know that they equate to around 4 per cent of the global fragrance industry – or a cool $1.8bn, according to Yahoo Finance. Not all celebrity scents are created equal, either. Some are bad. Really bad. Others, however, have won awards for olfactory excellence that are usually reserved for the Chanels and Pradas of the world.
So in a bid to give credit where credit’s due, we’ve ranked some of the most well-known male celebrity fragrances, from those that belong in your bathroom cabinet to those that should go in the bin.
Sean John, Unforgivable
Unforgivable – a term that is both the name of Sean John’s 2006 fragrance, and a useful description of its god-awful marketing campaign. But despite reductive ads featuring P Diddy himself sans clothing in bed with another hip-hop honey, the scent itself is considerably more tasteful with fresh marine notes compacted with unexpected rum and birch leaf. It’s complex and seductive, and frankly nothing like what you’d expect.
It won men’s luxury fragrance of the year in 2007 at the industry’s influential FiFi Awards, and it’s still worthy of the honour today. That said, it doesn’t give you free licence to emulate Diddy’s wardrobe, too.
David Beckham, Beyond
Fragrance was the final frontier for David Beckham. After a string of abysmal scents (sorry, Dave), the release of 2015’s Beyond signalled a complete 180 to fall in line with the rest of Brand Beckham. No frighteningly gauche crown motifs, no Vegas-style gold bottles; just a fragrance that packs mojito chords with warm tones of patchouli and vanilla.
An everyday fragrance with a rare, everyday price tag.
Bruce Willis, Personal Edition
There was no need for Bruce Willis to release a fragrance. He’s neither a style icon nor the type of Hollywood celebrity men aspire to be. Famous, yes. Rock hard, certainly. But red carpet style maven? No.
That said, his Personal Edition fragrance was a pleasant surprise, marrying citrus notes with tobacco and leather for a scent that smells suspiciously like Creed’s Aventus. Wholly unnecessary, but appreciated nonetheless.
Antonio Banderas, Blue Seduction
Antonio Banderas was last cool when he played an animated Puss In Boots in Shrek. That’s not the best foundation on which to sell something as image-dependant as a men’s fragrance, but this is surprisingly safe ground for an everyday summer fragrance.
Blue Seduction (awful name, just awful) blends melon and mint to surprisingly good effect. It’s not the longest-lasting scent but considering the price, it’s a handy warm-weather spritz.
Pitbull, Miami Man
Yes, we’re aware Pitbull is responsible for some of history’s most woeful lyrics (“I saw, I conquered, I came,” stands out, for example), but Miami Man smells much better than the rapper sounds.
The blend of grapefruit and pink pepper is lighter than the norm, enveloping masculine musk and amber base notes to ground the cologne as a genuinely classy nocturnal scent. As in, one you can wear outside of nightclubs with ‘NO SPORTSWEAR, FREE CHAMPAGNE FOR THE LADIES’ written on the door.
James Bond 007
James Bond may be cool, but fawning over a fictional character to the point that you want to smell like him is just plain sad. If you can park the toe-curling “dangerously sophisticated” marketing campaign, however, the scent itself is a long-lasting, fresh combination of lavender and moss.
The worst you could say about it is that it’s a little unremarkable. Though what else can you expect from a fragrance that’s more a marketing gimmick than a bona fide cologne?
The Only Way Is Essex, Be Reem
The only thing more vapid and soulless than a bunch of unenlightened apes on ITVBe is a generic fragrance designed by nobody in particular stamped with promotional shots of said apes. Be Reem is everything you’d expect and more: sweet, pungent liquid that isn’t fit to freshen up your kitchen bin.
If the only way is Essex, it’s also the same path that leads straight to the ninth circle of hell.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Legacy
Ever wondered what wet look gel and rampant spornosexuality smells like? Well, ponder no more. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Legacy is said to be the Portuguese striker’s signature scent, melding overly rich cedar and rosemary for a cologne pungent enough to knock out a national team (and its under 21s).
Best paired with a high-gloss puffer jacket and Eurovision party.
Peter Andre, Conditional
Despite the name, Peter Andre’s Conditional is surprisingly lax on the prerequisites: you need no taste, and little self-respect. Even for a fragrance under £20, the heady mix of cashmere, nutmeg and vanilla is far too sickly to be a serious cologne – the olfactory equivalent of a bad fake tan.
Let your nan use it as an air freshener.
Jay Z, Gold
For the Carter-Knowles family, no dollar bill is left unturned. That includes the world of fragrance. As a mere way to boost the Benjamins, Jay Z released 2013’s Gold to unanimous scorn. The sickly sweet cologne was once compared to blueberry muffins, while a lack of promotion (Jiggaman didn’t even bother to wear his own product) resulted in a $20m lawsuit by the fragrance company behind it. Money really ain’t a thang after all.
Donald Trump, Empire
Kicking off a presidential campaign with a namesake fragrance reeks. Bigly. Donald Trump’s Empire is but another PR exercise from the commander-in-spin, with the scent itself almost a direct Carolina Herrera rip-off.
Factor in the unassuming bottle and GCSE graphic design packaging, and you’re left with a fragrance that fails to get any votes from us.