The brand new Baccarat hotel in midtown is not a Hilton-owned hotel. The first event inside of its chic, French-styled walls, however, was held by a Hilton. Paris Hilton, to be exact. She and her corporate fragrance partner, Parlux, announced her 18th fragrance, the Paris Hilton Limited Anniversary Edition scent, which retails for $65, and commemorates her 10 years in the perfume business.
The room designated for the event has white walls with French-moulding and tons of silver balloons floating on the ceiling. A table at the front of the room shows off several of the Limited Anniversary Edition bottle, a plastic-gemstone encrusted silver cylinder, which is the same size and shape of many of her other fragrance bottles. To the side of the room is a large cardboard poster of the ad campaign for the perfume that features Hilton in a short, silver dress and high heels, holding onto silver balloons that transform into a pointed stake at the end. I walk around to the far side of the room and take a seat at a small table.
In front of me are Baccarat glasses made of solid crystal, hand-crafted in France by artisans, one of the servers tells us. They serve us croissants and kouglof, a donut-like pastry from Alsace, topped with a smudge of pureed apricot paste. It’s delicious. I wonder to myself if Hilton chose this pastry, or if this is what the hotel will serve at all of its breakfasts.
I am sitting next to a few tabloid reporters that talk about how cute Hilton is. The centerpiece of our table is a two-foot-long, half-foot wide, rectangular block of ice with a budding peach tree branch suspended inside of it. Through the thick ice, it’s hard to see the branch clearly. On either end of the ice block are several small apples, each coated in glitter. These are real apples, not the plastic kind that you pay for at a craft store. Next to these apples is a small solid crystal vase with large white orchids in the top. A woman turns to me and mentions that these are the fragrance notes in the perfume. The apples are meant to look like they’re frozen, because frozen apples and frozen peach blossoms and orchids are the key notes of the scent. Oh. That’s hot.
Around this time, Donald Loftus, the president of Parlux, stands up to introduce Hilton and her new fragrance.
“Paris has sold $2 billion worth of her fragrances about 40 million bottles,” Loftus says. “She’s just opened her first resort in the Philippines, the Paris Hilton Beach Club. From working with her at Parlux, she’s the hardest working woman in the business.” There’s no mention of Hilton as the star of her own reality series, The Simple Life, or Hilton as a singer, or a hardcore partier. In this room, she is only a popular disc jockey who often plays sets at fashion shows and who has been on a few magazine covers.
Hilton enters and immediately coos at the audience in a soft, breathy voice. “Good morning, everybody,” says Hilton. In person, Hilton looks exactly like every television appearance I’ve ever seen of her: tall, lanky, tan, pixie-like. It’s hard to look away from her, as her every movement is deliberately made to draw attention. She’s wearing a transparent white lace jacket with gold spikes around the collar, the flaps, and in a strip down the arms. Underneath, her dress is a fitted babydoll dress made of an abstract pattern of pastel colors.
“I’m so happy to be here in New York. I’m celebrating 10 years in the fragrance industry and I couldn’t imagine, as a little girl, that one day I’d have 18 fragrances,” says Hilton.
She thanks the crowd and smiles and flips her hair before sitting at a table in the front. As soon as she sits, her demeanor suddenly changes: No longer is she innocent, cute Paris with a soft voice. Her tone deepens, the smile turns into a bored expression, and she beings to explain how she’s just traveled from Hong Kong and will have to travel again in two days for another event. Perhaps this prolific perfume creator has had enough?
After a few minutes, Hilton’s attitude does another 180-degree-turn and she decides to get up and excitedly pose in front of the advertisement for the perfume. She holds the bottle close to her face and shifts poses from side to side, batting her eyelashes and smiling. Audience members stand up and take pictures of her, cheering her on for posing for them. Hilton sort of gets a charge out of this attention and laughs, before making her way back to her seat. A few more minutes past and at last, someone announces that Hilton will make her way around the room.
When asked about how she feels about her newest fragrance, Hilton brings out the bottle and clutches it in her hands.
“I’m obsessed with the bling on the bottle and I love sparkles,” says Hilton, holding up one of her new Anniversary perfume bottles. “It feels good. My new bottle is so pretty I just love carrying it around. It’s totally me.” With that, Hilton waves around the bottle like a wand. Hilton says all she wants is a collection of beautiful perfumes that her fans can collect.
When it comes to the scent, though, it’s not as easy to make it blinged-out.
“Sometimes when we go to factory or sit in the meeting, there are so many and you get a headache,” says Hilton. “There are so many scents and they start smelling the same. It’s a process. I’ll take my favorite scents and I’ll talk to my mom and my sister and all my friends and get everyone’s opinions on what they like the best, and then I decide on it then.” Hilton also had help from perfumer Steven DeMercado for the Anniversary Edition.
I ask her how she manages to develop new fragrances while disc jockey-ing 400 shows a year and traveling to her various commitments.
“I’m an alien,” she says. “I’m superhuman. I love working hard and I love my brand. I don’t get a lot of sleep but it’s fine, it’s worth it.” She’s looking at the floor when she says it.
When I get home later, I take the shimmery sample bottle out and show my boyfriend. He’s certainly not an authority on perfume, but he does have a good eye: the plastic gemstones on the bottle are like a sticker wrapped around the exterior, only, they don’t quite make it all the way around. Where it doesn’t meet up, the adhesive is peeling off from the container. I suppose it wasn’t tacky enough.