What does Jennifer Aniston smell of, do you suppose? Gin and cat food? Despair? Perhaps, if I really wanted to know, I ought to have got myself to Harrods last week, where Hollywood's eternal singleton was launching her eau du parfum, Lolavie.
Innumerable celebs and hemi-semi-demi-celebs have trodden the path of eponymous fragrances before her, not all of them of the shameless Britney/ Paris/J-Lo variety. The reasonably credible likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry have also stood in posh department stores and declared, straight-faced, that they pair designer threads with their own cheapo scent.
But it's still somehow surprising every time a bona fide A-lister stoops to this cheesy merchandising low. Clearly in the female celeb code of conduct, hawking a perfume is acceptable in the same way that advertising coffee or watches is thought fair game for serious male stars.
Perhaps it's the veneer of creativity, as they swan around sniffing vials calling for "more Californian jasmine" and thinking they are Coco Chanel. Most likely, it is the cold, hard cash. All I can assume is that a fragrance deal is worth a huge heap of money, which must in turn mean people still buy celebrity fragrances in their thousands – and that is truly mystifying.
In 2005, I wrote a piece about the explosion of celebrity fragrances. Even Boots' buyers admitted to being surprised by their success, but it did seem less incongruous back then, when we weren't quite so saturated with celeb culture and frivolous purchasing seemed marginally less absurd. Aniston's stab at the genre is supposedly a little more refined and grown-up – hence a higher price and the Harrods launch. But it's difficult to imagine many adult women, with £25 to spare, who'd consider a celeb fragrance (let alone one in the image of LA's most famous spinster) the best they could do in the beauty hall.
Buying into a brand, by splashing out on Chanel, say, suggests a certain degree of uncertainty about one's identity (yes, I know some people simply want to smell nice, but they could always go for Yardley, it's perfectly pleasant). But at least there's a little room for manoeuvre there. But to buy into the image of an individual, and in such an intimate way as perfume, flags up the kind of insecurity you'd hope to find only in the very young.
Publicising her new gear, Aniston recommends you "wear a scent that really represents you". I can't see many women finding themselves represented in Jennifer Aniston – The Perfume. Although, I suppose I did once have that thing with Brad Pitt...