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The Sweet Smell of Simmons

Russell goes to the mat for God’s being sexy, mainstream.


Russell Simmons thinks the suits at Coty need to get their chakras checked. After the success of fragrances from his ex-wife, Kimora Lee, and P. Diddy, Simmons was asked to come up with his own scent. Simmons, a yoga freak, mixed up a batch of spiritual oils and called the fragrance Atman, a Sanskrit word that means “divine self” or “God” in some traditions. But the marketing minds at the world’s biggest fragrance company (brands include Calvin Klein, Nautica, and J.Lo) didn’t see the fit with his hip-hop following. “I’m not a perfume dude, but they were after me to do this,” says an irritated Simmons, who says he plans to donate his proceeds to charity. “We had quite a standoff. They told me God doesn’t sell, God isn’t sexy. I think God is sexy.” Still, the cologne tested well and will be on shelves in September. A Coty spokesperson says, “Coty was scared by these uncharted waters. God wasn’t something that we thought was mainstream, but Russell was so passionate about it. If you are going to work with Russell, you do it his way, and now it makes perfect sense.”

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