Celebrity is a funny thing in 2019, isn’t it? Fame is, at the same time, more achievable and more fickle than ever. There are more metrics with which to measure someone's cultural currency than ever before: followers, views, shares, retweets. And once someone reaches this nebulous celebrity status, it's harder to maintain it than ever before.
I often wonder if we are living in the last era of true living legends. Of people who just are stars, point blank, without relying on or playing into the endless news cycle, fresh social media platforms, and viral content. Madonna. Janet. Celine. Tina. Diana. Their icon status is non-negotiable. Who would we deem untouchable from today’s group of girls? Britney, of course. Without question, Beyoncé, who is arguably the last celebrity to maintain an air of mystery while consistently being at the center of the conversation.
There is, of course, one other woman who has spent her entire career exemplifying what it means to be a living legend: Cher.
Absolutely nothing short of an icon, Cher is...Why am I even trying to describe it? She's Cher. You already know. Unbothered by anything or anyone, Cher is a star. She is the star, always negotiating her fame on her own terms, and having a blast doing it. Cher is one of the few celebrities who has the luxury of not having to do anything to maintain the spotlight without it risking her star power dwindling. Cher has always been a fire that you can't put out.
And that's why it's interesting that she's now doing one of the most — for lack of a better term — expected things that a celebrity can do. Cher is releasing a fragrance: Cher Eau de Couture.
I am insanely interested in how this came to be. This is actually her second fragrance, her first being Uninhibited in 1987. Surprisingly, Cher's first fragrance was widely considered to be unsuccessful. Keep in mind, this was before the era of celebrity fragrances really started. What many consider the first big celebrity fragrance, White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, wouldn't come out until 1991. Then, a few years later, we would get Glow by J. Lo, Curious by Britney Spears, and many of the other celebrity scents that made up the early aughts.
The lukewarm reception of Cher's first scent had little to do with the scent itself and more to do with the fact that people didn't really seem to get it. Celebrities weren't attaching their names to products quite yet, and it was even before endorsements became commonplace. People were still shopping at department store counters and looking for luxury in the places they'd always found it. Consumers didn't yet know how to contextualize a celebrity scent.
So she's back to do it again. Word on the street is this took four years to create. By a stroke of luck, I was able to ask Cher — the Cher — a couple questions about her new scent.
"I can't say exactly why it took four years," Cher tells me over the phone. "Nothing ever took me four years. I just knew when I had it. A few times, I thought I had it, but a few days later, I changed my mind. It was kind of like, you know it when you see it."
Cher Eau de Couture is a lot like the legend herself. It's bold. It demands your attention. It's ever-changing. It's unexpected. It's familiar, like you've known it your whole life. Cher (the fragrance) by Cher (the legend) smells sweet, green, and is equal parts warm and cold. This is unsurprising when you hear the scents that have played a role in her life.
"I didn't specifically want to create a 'genderless' fragrance. I created it for people who like it."
"I do love the smell of freshly cut grass. I used to do cartwheels and remember that smell really well," Cher recalls. "I love the smell of popcorn and pumpkin pie. My mom always smelled good. I know she sometimes wore Joy, but she guarded it like it was diamonds."
Like all fragrances, but perhaps more than most, it really, truly evolves over time. From beginning to end, it shapeshifts. On my skin, this happens at least three times as I wear it. It's positioned as a genderless scent (as all fragrances should be, thank you) and not only does it nail its objective, but it employs notes that are typically thought of as "masculine" or "feminine" and makes them work together for something bigger — something that defies what you know about gendered fragrances altogether.
"I don't think in terms of genders," Cher says. "I didn't specifically want to create a 'genderless' fragrance. I created it for people who like it. I've worn men's fragrances. Val [Kilmer] used to wear Kouros, which was a men's fragrance, and I liked how it smelled and wore it sometimes. I've also worn Canoe and Taboo, though my mom didn't think Taboo was for 'good' girls."
Side note: Cher just casually name dropping Val Kilmer in the middle of the interview completely sends me.
"I wanted a heavy scent. Not that I wanted people to run out of the elevator, but I wanted to be sure it lasted beyond the first spray."
If the notes and structure of a fragrance help you visualize and understand the experience, as they do for me, they are as follows: At the top, you'll find bergamot, clove, and neroli; at its heart, there is jasmine, rose, and orange flower; holding it down at the base is sandalwood, vetiver, and vanilla orchid. When it first hits your skin, the neroli, bergamot, and clove mesh with the rose and jasmine for a whiplash that's cold, leathery, and metallic. It feels very cologne-your-dad-was-wearing-when-he-met-your-mom.
"I wanted a heavy scent," Cher explains. "Not that I wanted people to run out of the elevator, but I wanted to be sure it lasted beyond the first spray."
It's not unpleasant; it's just surprising. From the jump, it's (and I know we do not gender fragrances anymore but for the sake of telling this story) masculine. Full stop.
But then, it shifts. The scent is pitched as a "spicy vanillic oriental," and I don't know if I even agree with this. If anything, it balances being a green, metallic vanilla, settling down to its spicier side when it reaches its half-life. This scent is all vanilla, even if it takes it a minute to get there. An hour or two into wear, you notice a true vanilla note begin to writhe off of your skin as if it was waiting for the right time to show itself. Over time, vanilla becomes the focus of the scent, with all of the other notes singing its fanfare, laying down palm leaves for its arrival. The vanilla is literal enough to be warm and inviting on anyone who wears it, but the other notes prop it up and give it depth in a way that makes you keep coming.
There is probably nothing new you can do with vanilla. We all know it. We love it. But can it be reinterpreted in a way that feels fresh? I don't know. Does this scent do exactly that? I would say no, but I would also say that it finds a way to surprise you with something you already love and serve it to you paired with notes that make it worth smelling again.
More than anything, Cher Eau de Couture is an adventure that keeps you guessing. It starts off a little standoffish, but then warms up to you, showing a different side of itself completely. It's edgy, then sweet. Chilly, then warm. Cautious, then inviting. Like Cher herself, it's timeless, ever-changing, and a definite crowd-pleaser. Though a celebrity — no, icon — of her status releasing a scent as this stage in her career may seem like a surprise, the scent itself feels like a perfect representation of the woman who created it. After all, Cher has always been known for reinventing herself, and if this scent and the last year of her career tell us anything, she's not slowing down any time soon.
Cher Eau de Couture is now available for $85 on scentbeauty.com.
More on celebrity scents:
- Jennifer Lopez Just Dropped Her 25th Fragrance, and We've Got All of the Details
- Britney Spears' Top 10 Perfumes, Ranked
- Say What You Want About Them, But Celebrity Fragrances Are So Important to the Perfume World
Now, watch kids make perfume for their moms:
Originally Appeared on Allure