Britney Spears - the 29-year-old singer as well known for her various controversies, as for her music - is hot on the comeback trail, with a chart-topping album - Femme Fatale - and a slew of infectious hit singles. But while the world may love Britney for "Hold It Against Me" and countless other hits, to us the Louisiana native is most notable for her fragrance output. Here, in order of their release, is a compendium of Britney Spears' perfumes to date - the good, the bad, and the ugly - including tidbits of gossip from the time of their production.
Created by Coty Inc. for Britney - in the same year that saw her marrying gold-digger Kevin Federline - Britney Spears' first-ever perfume release was a fruity-floral composition inspired by the gardens of the singer's home state of Louisiana. Vanilla-infused musk gives the scent a warm and voluptuous glamour, with magnolia, pear and lotus flower adding sweetness and youth. Curious successfully appealed to both Britney's teenage fans and their moms, and racked up $100 million in sales in its five weeks on the market. In 2005, the scent earned "Best Women's Fragrance" honors from the Fragrance Foundation, and it has continued to perform like a champion, becoming one of the best-selling women's fragrances of all time.
A year after she smashed sales records with Curious - and at the time of her pregnancy with her first child, Sean Preston Federline - Britney Spears partnered with the design house of Giorgio Armani to release Fantasy. Britney's second fragrance is a spirited love potion combining notes of red lychee, kiwi, cupcake, jasmine, white chocolate and musk. Fruity and sweet as a grocery-store birthday cake in the opening notes, the scent is rounded out nicely by chypre base notes, adding a grounded sensuality that somehow makes the whole concoction work. Scrumptious and unique, Fantasy is a flirty fragrance that works well for day or night. The round bottle, adorned with Swarovski crystals, is a stunner too.
Britney took control of her life after a fashion, in 2006, when she filed for divorce for K-Fed. Suitably, In Control was the name she gave the limited-edition flanker released that year for her Curious Perfume. In Control is a darkly sexy scent, possibly symbolizing the I've-still-got-it power of a singer scorned. Juicy loquat fruit blends with a heart of midnight orchid, crème brûlée, black vanilla bean and tonka crystals, over a sultry base of sandalwood and musk. Tom Ford did it better the same year with his Black Orchid, but we'll give Britney a B-minus for effort.
This limited-edition scent offered a sugary version of sex appeal to Britney's young fans. Exotic framboise, black cherry, and plum minge with night orchid, freesia and iris, over base notes of amber, musk and vanilla. Creamy and mysterious, this is a scent that tries hard, but ultimately sends mixed messages.
In 2007 - a grueling year for Britney during which she shaved her head, checked in and out of rehab, and entered a custody battle over the fate of her two children with Kevin Federline - B-Spears partnered with Elizabeth Arden to release Believe. Promoted under the slogan "The greatest freedom is to believe in yourself", the refreshing, feminine scent was aimed at Britney's youngest fans. Literally green in color, alluding to freshness and innocence, Believe is a delicate blend of guava, tangerine, honeysuckle and linden blossom, over a patchouli-amber-praline base reminiscent of Thierry Mugler's Angel Perfume. The bracing opening is well-balanced by the sugary bottom notes, making Believe a wearable, even office-appropriate scent for daytime. The multi-faceted bottle design is supposed to "represent Britney's many beliefs".
The limited-edition Curious Heart is a sweeter version of the successful Curious Perfume. Designed for young teens - and probably not appealing to anyone older than that - the scent relies on red florals for its girlish appeal (the original Curious is a white floral blend). A pink bottle, decorated with an Ed Hardy-style tattoo heart, offers further tween appeal.
While we were waiting for a brand-new Britney Spears fragrance, we got a pair of brand extensions to her Fantasy Perfume. Hidden Fantasy was the first of these, an oriental blend of spices, fruits and florals developed by perfumer Rodrigo-Flores Roux. Sweet orange, tangerine, grapefruit blossom and verbena combine with clove, Napolitano cake, Stargazer lily, Sambac jasmine, vanilla bean, Jacaranda wood, sandalwood and amber. While the notes are fairly well-combined, the overall aroma of spiced fruitcake is probably not what Britney was going for.
Circus Fantasy - created to capitalize on the strong sales of Britney Spears's Circus album - is a more successful Fantasy flanker. Created in cooperation with Elizabeth Arden, it's an upbeat fruity floral with an overall soapy scent. Top notes of juicy raspberry zest and apricot blossom mix with blue peony, lotus and orchid in the heart, with base notes of vanilla, musk and violet candy.
A decade after Britney donned a schoolgirl uniform and asked us to "Hit Me Baby One More Time" - and through the bad years of divorce, family feuds, and public breakdowns - Britney Spears had us cheering her on once again. The always-in-trouble pop star had somehow survived it all and started a comeback, buoyed by the success of her Circus album (2008) and a few, tentative public appearances. Radiance Perfume by Britney Spears, created in partnership (again) with Elizabeth Arden, promised to "make any woman feel beautiful." A bright fruity-floral, the scent combines red berries, tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, iris and musk. The rectangular bottle, bejewelled with baby blue and pink stones, is to-die-for girly.