And not just any fable. It is positioned on the Hope Diamond, a bauble once owned by Gregory's great grandmother, Evalyn Walsh McLean. The diamond, the largest blue stone of its kind in the world, valued at $250 million, now rests in the Museum of Natural History in Washington, where it attracts an average of seven million people a year.

Gregory, who said he once spent an hour and a half observing how people reacted to the stone, marveled at its drawing power. "I felt it would be great for marketing," he said.

Gregory also has the benefit of a fragrance background. While attending Belmont College as a theater major — "I wanted to be a game show host" — he was shopping for fragrance at Dillard's in Nashville, Tenn., when he was offered a gig as a fragrance model, pushing Casesars Man, a 1988 introduction. That led to a job behind the fragrance counter at Dillard's in the Grenn Hills Mall, then to three and a half years as a rotater for Boucheron, training counter personnel in Caster Knott stores.

Through all this time on the selling floor, Gregory kept a journal of what kinds of fragrances customers asked for. The result, financed with family funds, is a woodsy-floral-oriental scent composed by Claude Dir of Quest of International.

Fable has top notes of ivy, bergamot, rosewood and ylang ylang. Middle notes consist of plum, jasmine, pimento, cherry wood and crème Brûlée — a favorite of Gregory's great grandmother. The base contains white iris, musk, amber and sandalwood.

Marc Rosen designed the packaging of the line, which consists of five items, ranging from a 1.7oz eau de parfum, priced $75, to a 1oz perfume for $375.

The perfume bottle was designed to resemble the cuff of a bracelet and Rosen based a 0.25oz purse spray, priced $125, on an antique container of smelling salts.

Consultant Pamela Vaile worked on the marketing. She said Fable will be launched at Bergdorf Goodman April 12 and makes its debut at Neiman Marcus May 9. Vaile envisions a gradual build, with a distribution this year of no more than 50 doors. Industry sources peg the volume possibilities at $1 million.

Vaile said that a men's Fable is in the works and another women's scent is contemplated for 2002. Bath and body products are also in the offing.

Gregory apparently seems intent on turning a bit of family history into a master brand. "This is company with a vision for the future," Vaile said. "This is not a one-shot deal."