How Britney Spears Built a Billion-Dollar Business Without Selling a Single Record

On September 14, 2004, Britney Spears arrived at Macy’s in New York City in a red satin cocktail dress with tiny hearts all over it to attend a party in her honor. She was 22 years old and four days away from her second marriage of the year (her first, an impromptu Vegas hitching with a childhood friend, lasted 55 hours; a judge annulled it, saying Spears “lacked understanding of her actions” at the time). Spears was in New York to launch Curious, her first perfume, which cost $39.95 and smelled like the waiting room of a fancy spa. She beamed for the paparazzi and held a bottle of Curious in her palm, cradling the aquamarine flacon in one hand, as if it were a delicate fruit, and squeezing the tasseled atomizer with the other like a silent-film star primping in her boudoir. “I’m so excited about doing my new fragrance with all of you,” she said, while chewing bubble gum.

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