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Elements Showcase Unites Art and Fragrance

By Nancy Jeffries, Contributing Editor | March 30, 2012

Designers, perfumers and entrepreneurs detail their passion for the art of perfumery.

The Elements Showcase, held January 30-31, 2012, at New York’s Skylight West provides a forum that unites designers, perfumers, and entrepreneurs who bring individual sensibilities and passion to the art of perfume, and beyond. The event was created by founders Frederick Bouchardy, Ulrich Lang, and Jeff Lawson, and is supported by sponsor, IFF, Indie FiFi Award Supporters, The Fragrance Foundation, RPG, and Givaudan, partners, Henri Bendel, Beauty Press, Lost Weekend NYC, Les Palais des Thes, Vice, and Takasago, Editorial Collaborators, BKC, Oak, Special Projects Contributors, Andrea Maack Parfums, Caron Paris, FIT, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Forums, with Six Scents and W.

Founded in 2011, and currently celebrating its one-year anniversary, the event is growing in popularity, scope, and reputation, having become a marketplace for both established as well as emerging stars in the art of fragrance design. This is a field that includes traditional apothecary products, such as perfume, personal care, cosmetics, and home fragrance, as well as unique customized scents, historically and architecturally inspired perfumes, like Arquiste’s spirit of place and time, and a range of imaginatively packaged and presented items, from candles to skin care, including Ambuja’s cleverly packaged amalgam of nature and molecular science for skin, the interpretive Zodiac Collection, from Strange Invisible Perfumes, the newest mood scents from Bond No. 9, including Sag Harbor and Central Park West, and a range of beauties from Yosh Perfumes, Sarah Horowitz, D.S. & Durga, Joya, and Caron, who offered men’s shaving luxury, complete with old-fashioned barber chair, to raise the bar on service and customization. Taken as a whole, the event conveyed the spirit and diversity of an art fair, with the added elements of a resource practicum. Panel presentations on both days, tackled such topics as Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration and Artistic Process in Fragrance Design and Beyond, as well as Choosing Fragrance, Influences Behind the Purchase. The first, moderated by Levi Pharoah, included panelists Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Celso Fedelli, Chandler Burr, Rainer Judd, and Erica Taylor, who represented the worlds of fragrance, art and design, and provided insights into the varied and uniquely individual influences that inspire creativity.

Chandler Burr, formerly perfume critic of The New York Times, and currently Curator of the Department of Olfactory Arts at the Museum of Arts and Design, which will soon present The Art of Scent exhibition, discussed the importance of placing scent within the artistic framework, much as one would conceptualize art, painting, and architecture. Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Givaudan perfumer, and the perfumer behind numerous scents created by exhibitor, Arquiste, a unique collection designed to transport the wearer to evocative moments in history, founded by Carlos Huber, an architect from Mexico City who specializes in historic preservation, spoke to the heart and soul of fragrance creation.
“I always want to feel it and make it happen emotionally,” said Flores-Roux. The perfumer, who said he approaches fragrance with his heart and considers it a high craft, explained his connection with fragrance. “For me, it is having a dialogue, and I love constructing a dialogue,” said Flores-Roux, who acknowledged a creative relationship with Six Scents and the Six Scents Forum. “They are up and coming designers and this collaboration is wonderful.”

Celso Fedelli, CEO, Intertrade Europe, commented on the market and independent brands, saying, “It’s about who created the fragrance and who created the brand. It’s a market with huge possibilities. In Europe, art fragrances are growing and more and more department stores, like Selfridges and others, are creating an avenue with installations for niche brands.”

Rainer Judd, film maker and artist, who completed a film as part of the Six Scents Series Three Perfume Project, said, “Six Scents gave us a lot of freedom to explore our personal stories. Visual artists and film makers are bridging the gap between creating something you can’t see, like fragrance, with a tangible story.” Six Scents, a brand that is supported by designers and issued in a series of fragrances, consists of limited editions that are available to the public for one year. It acts as a dynamic repository of fragrance expression through art, and is an example of the new catalysts for fragrance creation.

In discussing inspiration, panelists cited a range of far reaching sources, from Rodrigo Flores-Roux acknowledgment of designer, John Varvatos, artist, Caravaggio, and Mexican poet, Carlos Pellicer, as continual inspirations; to the recognition of global sourcing and economic collaborations, cited by Chandler Burr, who acknowledged the work of Givaudan and IFF, for their materials outreach and sustainability efforst, yielding ingredients from Java, Sumatra, and Venezuela, as well as their collaborations with farmers, growers, and indigenous communities that bring the fragrances together.

The panel paid homage to the network of influences, collaborations, and subtexts that ultimately combine to create the fragrance story. These included collaborations with artists, writers, architects, designers, as well as collaborations based on the culinary world, with Flores-Roux noting such culinary treasures as black truffles, being part of the fragrance world. Burr concurred, saying, “Collaborations must be done well. If you do it well, you can do a collaboration with a store that sells canned tomatoes. But, the ultimate collaboration is between the patron of the art and the perfumer.”

“I think people are looking for another message, another landscape, with a different texture and feel,” said Flores-Roux, intimating that something more is coming, with music and scent. Audience member, and perfumer, Yosh, of Yosh Perfumes, California, commented on the things currently happening in the world of fragrance underground. “Many things are happening, not just in restaurants and art galleries, and not just with the art work, but how it is received. We need the perfumers and also the industrial designers to get on board, to smell, not just with our noses, but with our whole body and being,” said Yosh. “Clearly, said Fedelli, “You can apply the invisibility of perfume with music or a song, as well as literature or a poem, everything is possible.” Flores-Roux concluded, “We are all trying to find the alternative way to experience perfume.”
The Event Landscape
According to Frederick Bouchardy, Joya Studio, and founder of the Elements Showcase, with Ulrich Lang and Jeff Lawson, “We have created this concept. There are niche perfume fairs in Europe that we’ve been to that are beautiful. But, the idea here was to merge the experience of an art fair with the mastery of fragrance design. In a way, we invented the idea of fragrance design, i.e., categorizing apothecary products and contextualizing them as design objects. In the process we created a new community, as well as a marketplace, which is the most thrilling part of it.”

Exhibitors presented new launches and concepts that captivated with scent, stories, and packaging. Strange Invisible Perfumes offered a new Bath & Body Collection, featuring Body Washes and Body Lotions with Hydro-Distilled Bergamot, Lemon & Neroli, Lavender & Vetiver, Sage & Rose, and Frankincense & Coriander. Also featured were the Perfumes of the Zodiac, with the newest set including Aries Eau de Parfum, with frankincense and patchouli, Libra, with rose and golden champa, Pisces, with angelica and jasmine, Taurus, with honey and oak moss, and Virgo, with baked earth, palo santo and jasmine sambac.

Arquiste debuted with L’Etrog, a citrus chypre, with myrtle, date fruit, and vetiver, Flor y Canto, with a background of copal and notes of Mexican tuberose, and Anima Dulcis, with cocoa absolute and Mexican vanilla, a virtual journey to the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria in Mexico City.

Others featured were Bond No. 9’s new Sag Harbor, with bergamot, ivy leaves, and oud, Central Park West, a new scent for spring, with narcissus, gardenia and musk, and I Love NY Earth Day, with orange flower water, orris, and sandalwood. Sarah Horowitz Parfums featured nature identical florals and new interpretations of classics, including Coconut Milk, with tonka bean and Egyptian musk, and Perfect Veil, with lemon, sandalwood and vanilla.

Histoires de Parfums, with its literary stories, Gillesdewavrin, featuring customized scented candles, Joya, with handcraftsmanship in scented candles and fragrances, Jouany, with its olfactory destinations, Yosh, with its subtle Sottile, featuring tea rose and muguet, and White Flowers, a bouquet of tuberose, lilac and narcissus, and Brooklyn, New York’s own D.S. Durga, recent recipients of FGI’s Rising Star Award, featured a selection of handcrafted perfumes, including Cowboy Grass, with prairie sagebrush and Haitian vetyver, as well Siberian Snow, a narcotic jasmine, blended with crisp mint and powdery incense. The collections, consistently intriguing, unique and sublime coalesced around independence, and indeed that was the theme of the event, a highlight of which was the 2012 FiFi® Indie Fragrance Award ceremony, held in the evening on the first day of the show, and presented by The Fragrance Foundation.

The Indie FiFi Award recognizes the achievements of an independent fragrance brand, and is selected by a panel of judges based on criteria provided by the Foundation and the Indie Committee. Mary Ellen Lapsanksy, Vice President, The Fragrance Foundation took to the stage and presented the crystal FiFi® trophy award to 06 Amanu, Odin New York, whose winning scent is described as a primitive ambiance of Southern Mediterranean peaks combined with the ancient fertility of Anatolian soils, with a herbaceous blend of verdant galbanum and raw lentisque. The cortex of Amanu revolves around the woody cedar leaf and heady jasmine sambac, with musk, amber wood as rooting textures. Top notes included blood orange and green galbanum, middle notes were cedar leaf, jasmin sambac and magnolia, and bottom notes were, amber wood, sheer musk, and live moss.

Cosimo Policastro, Executive Vice President, Fine Fragrances Givaudan, presented 06 Amanu with a check for $10,000, and Bruce Teitelbaum, RPG, CEO, sponsor of the ceremony and cocktail party, acknowledged the creativity of the independent brands. Finalists included “Cuirs” Carner Barcelona, by Min New York, Come L’Amore, Bois 1920, Bois 1920 Holding Company, La Fumée Miller Harris, Miller Harris, and Siberian Snow by D.S. & Durga, D.S. & Durga.

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