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By Design

What $20 Million Smells Like

November 14, 1996|BEVERLY BEYETTE

America's locker rooms may soon smell not of sweaty socks but of grapefruit, geraniums and green tea.

Michael Jordan, 33, who plays in the NBA when he's not pitching Gatorade and Air Jordans or co-starring with Bugs Bunny in a major motion picture, has bottled his persona.

In town recently to kick off a $20-million promotional blitz for Michael Jordan, the cologne, the charismatic Chicago Bull said he'd been in on creating the scent from the first sniff. "I didn't know who was the designer, me or him," confirmed his Rodeo Drive-based backer, Bijan Pakzad, who calls his design and fragrance house Bijan.

Jordan, he added, had a say in everything from the ads to the bottle design to whether the scent was too sweet or too strong. "After a period of time my nose got a little immune," Jordan said.

As he described it, Michael Jordan Cologne is light and fresh--"light as air," naturally--with five elements, or "accords," that "kind of define me."

There's Cool, with essences of cypress, rosewood, geranium and cognac.

There's Pebble Beach (sage, lavender, fir and juniper berries), which is where golfer Jordan goes "to relax and be at peace with myself."

There's Rare Air, which evokes his reputation for striving to new heights, slam-dunks off and on the court. The blend of cedarleaf, grapefruit and lemon represents "the humanistic side of me."

There's Sensual (sandalwood, patchouli and musk).

And there's Home Run. It's leathery, like a baseball glove, with essences of green tea, clove, suede and incense.

An odd choice, given the brevity of his baseball career?

Not to Jordan. "I had an appetite to do something and I went out and did it. That, in itself, was a home run. . . . I would do it again. I think it really helped me understand myself."

Question: Do most basketball players wear cologne?

Answer: Sure. I think it's a misunderstanding that basketball players sweat all the time. We like to be presentable.

Q: Do you expect to take a razzing for pushing perfume?

A: No more than I am now. I take a lot about all the different things I'm involved with.

Q: How often do you shave your head?

A: Every third day.

The back of that famous head became the logo for the cologne, which will sell for $12 to $35, depending on the size, in department and sporting goods stores.

The marketing folks consider it a good omen that about 85% of people asked could instantly identify Jordan with the logo.

"Pretty weird," Jordan said with a shrug.

One more thought: Will Dennis Rodman wear Michael Jordan Cologne?

Jordan laughed.

"Well, he does wear cologne. Yes, maybe, when he wants to act straight or maybe wear a classy suit. He's adventurous."

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