Coffee-out-the-nose moment:

Parlux Fragrances (NASDAQ:PARL) yesterday announced with some fanfare that it intends to launch a fragrance under the name "Paris Hilton," hoping to catch some of the reflected cultural phenomenon around the star of Fox's (NYSE:FOX) Simple Life as well as a fairly famous, uh, independent film. She's an offspring of the founding family of Hilton Hotels (NYSE:HLT) and, best I can tell, is one of those people who is famous for little more than being famous.

Parlux has caught my eye before -- back in August I noted that it traded below cash value and deserved to, due to a tangled web between the company and three others controlled by CEO Ilia Lekach, including E Com Ventures (NASDAQ:ECMV) and air taxi-cum-fragrance company Nimbus, now called Taylor Madison (AMEX:TMZ). Parlux no longer trades below cash value; for some reason, investors have bid it up substantially. It's the same company it was before, only now, any hint of safety margin is gone.

Ah, but it's got Paris Hilton, right? Certainly this will have to work out better than Parlux's discontinued fragrances Todd Oldham, Phantom of the Opera, and Baryshnikov ("Come smell like a sweaty dancer!")

Parlux noted that Paris Hilton is a "prominent part of our popular culture," which is certainly true. It also may be trying to catch a fad now that Jessica Simpson, another starlet who allows her more long-standing relationships to be filmed, has released her own line of beauty products.

The question is whether the tie-in with Hilton is a positive thing at all. I mean, Dennis Rodman was once a prominent part of popular culture, too, but there wasn't a great deal of demand for a men's cologne called "Rodman," was there? Prominent and positive are two very different things. Paris Hilton was a sideshow at A-list cocktail parties before a videotape of her in flagrante launched her into the public view. I doubt severely that such a debut creates a very positive image that women throughout the world want to latch onto. Every time I hear the name "Paris Hilton," I wonder if they're talking about the building or the girl. I wonder why they didn't name their other children Milan, Stockholm, or O'Hare Airport. But, heck, it could work. I just don't think that the brand Paris Hilton is quite strong enough.

I'm sure we can find something that captures the essence of the public perception of Paris Hilton. I'm just not convinced that many women would want to admit wearing it.

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Bill Mann owns none of the companies mentioned in this story. His favorite fragrance is made by Prescriptives.