The damage: Melanie Clulow sniffs out the hidden cost of launching a perfume

In 1977, Yves St Laurent launched his new scent, Opium, with a party of such legendary fabulousness that Andy Warhol spent the last decade of his life kicking himself for missing it. The gala was held in New York Harbour, aboard a Chinese junk draped with thousands of orchids. All the beautiful people were there, along with a giant Buddha who was probably the only one not to go on to Studio 54 afterwards. The bill for the entertainments came to the then-unheard-of sum of $300,000, and Opium is still around.

Things have changed in 20 years. According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing, about 130 perfumes are launched in the pounds 460 million British market every year and 90 per cent of them flop. Image is the driving force behind sales and buyers are spoiled for choice, with 400 scents on the market at any one time.

Glossy magazine advertising and supermodels don't come cheap, and celebrities expect to be paid to show up at even the most extravagant parties these days. For a 'fine fragrance' with a retail price tag of pounds 40, packaging and promotion alone account for half the cost. And the heavenly amber liquid twinkling in the cut-glass bottle? That's worth about four quid.

Here's what to spend if you can't afford to fail:

Launch party London's Cafe de Paris for 300 guests, pounds 80,000 (assuming 10 canapes per person, fireaters, human statues, a band and all the champagne the glitterati can drink. It's always champagne). Sharon Stone as guest of honour at launch party, pounds 35,000. First-class air fare to bring select overseas journalists to launch week in New York or London, plus hotel costs, pounds 225,000.

Advertising Print and TV ads for a year, pounds 28m.

Cindy Crawford to front ad campaign, pounds 5m. Cindy Crawford's personal hairdresser and make-up artist for 10 promotional appearances per year, pounds 75,000.

Promotion In-store displays; consultants; spritzer ladies; samples, pounds 500,000. Scent strips in 20 glossy magazines, for four months pounds 1.5m.

Total: pounds 35,415,000

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