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When the fragrance company Coty asked Russell Simmons, the hip hop zillionaire and yoga junkie, to create an alluring perfume for women, God was the furthest thing from their minds. This week’s New York magazine reports that Coty expected something sultry and sexy, along the lines of Simmons’ ex-wife Kimora Lee’s fragrances. Imagine their surprise when Simmons made a potion of “spiritual” oils and called it Atman, Sanskrit for “divine self” or “God.”

Coty freaked. “We had quite a standoff,” Simmons told New York. “They told me God doesn’t sell, God isn’t sexy. I think God is sexy.” But Coty relented when they saw that testers actually liked the stuff. A Coty exec told New York: “God wasn’t something that we thought was mainstream, but Russell was so passionate about it… and now it makes perfect sense.”

It seems like the Coty execs just don’t get what’s happening with the mainstreaming of Eastern-tinged spirituality. Every bottle of perfume sells more than a scent–or we’d all just put on some nice-smelling baby powder and be done with it; it’s selling a promise. And up till now that’s been the promise of alluring pheromones, sophistication or naughtiness, class, and wealth. But now serenity, balance, and radiant inner beauty are what’s hot–and Russell is a genius to put those in a fancy bottle and sell it at Macy’s.

You can get your own God-in-a-bottle in September; Simmons will donate his proceeds to charity.

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