When you create a fragrance that turns heads and captures hearts, you’ve entered a special realm of the senses. That realm was celebrated this week, when the annual FiFi Awards, considered the Oscars of the fragrance industry, took place at Lincoln Center last week. The return to Lincoln Center, combined with a reinvented format, a new foray into technology, and a reaffirmed joy in the art of fragrance itself distinguished the event this year.
While fragrance aficionados have held the FiFis in high regard since its founding 40 years ago, the newest iteration of the FiFi Awards ushered in plans to re-energize, re-focus, and re-dedicate the Fragrance Foundation’s mission to its members. A new mission statement coalescing around Innovation, Education and Appreciation, emphasizes the Foundations’ member companies as a resource for industry expertise, innovation and education, devotion to engaging the consumer, and increasing the awareness and appreciation of fragrance in all its forms. According to Jill Belasco, Board Chair, The Fragrance Foundation, the new goals include engaging the consumer through media, social media, retail events, TV, maximizing the Executive Board’s involvement and support, and ultimately reaching and harnessing the collective voice of the industry, to win new fragrance consumers.
This year the FiFi Awards were true to that mission, in what, despite the rain, became a forum to celebrate and enjoy, not only the achievements of brands, marketers, and perfumers, but the community of fragrance lovers at large, now more global and interactive than ever. Pre-Awards, the buzz centered on the new perfume launches and the creativity that distinguished this year’s event.
Jane Lynch, host of the FiFi Awards.
The energy and anticipation grew as celebrities made their way down the Red Carpet on W. 65th Street, and attendees gathered outside the auditorium. Karen Dubin, founder of Sniffapalooza, which began as a group of perfume devotees outside the fragrance industry, said, “We live and breathe fragrance. It’s our passion, so it’s really exciting when the industry gets together to celebrate it; and Jane Lynch will add a real sense of fun and great vibes to the event. This has been an extraordinary year for fragrance, with an upsurge in exciting introductions.”
Karen Adams, co-founder, Sniffapalooza, said she was tweeting live from the event and posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook to keep Sniffapalooza fans up to date on the awards. Terry Molnar, Executive Director, the Sense of Smell Institute, said, “This is a fun, exciting format. It will be a great celebration and we love being back in Lincoln Center. It adds great elegance and sophistication to the event.”
The FiFi Awards, which drew more than 800 guests, and numerous celebrity presenters, including Carol Alt, Sam Champion, Phillippe Cousteau, Mariska Hargitay, Chaka Khan, Josh Groban, Nicole Richie, and Martha Stewart, also included a moving tribute to the late Evelyn H. Lauder, who received the “Legacy of Excellence” award.
Nicole Richie arrives at the FiFis.
After all the guests were seated in the auditorium, the Award program began with a disembodied voice instructing attendees to don 3D glasses for the opening video. As everyone in the audience reached into drawstring bags to retrieve their glasses, a video projected on a large screen behind the stage began to showcase the fragrance finalists in each category as vivid images of the nominated fragrances hurled themselves from the simulated stratosphere into the audience, effectively capturing the attention of fans, who cheered for their favorites.
Jane Lynch, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress and comedian, and host of this year’s FiFi Awards, strode onto the stage following the video, and brought down the house with her personal take on fragrance. She highlighted the diverse fragrance offerings this year, with everything from Beyonce’s Pulse to 50 Cent, and suggested that her own fragrance might be called, “Hot Coach,” adding that she wanted her fragrance to be packaged in a Pez dispenser.
“I’m honored to be here tonight to serve as your host,” she told the audience. “Selecting me makes perfect sense, because when you think of a sexy, delicate, and floral fragrance, you think, Jane Lynch.”
Carol Alt makes a dramatic entrance.
Forty years of the FiFis, she noted, had brought numerous changes, not the least of which were technological; and she encouraged attendees to tweet to the hash tag #JaneSmells, to share their updates and learn more about her own favorite scents. She also noted the two charities she selected, which would benefit from the annual online auction organized by The Fragrance Foundation in partnership with charitybuzz.com, this year benefiting Adopt the Arts and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Jill Belasco, board chair, The Fragrance Foundation, welcomed attendees and thanked The Fragrance Foundation, noting that the organization is changing, with new task force teams, and an affirmed commitment to revitalize and strengthen its commitment to fragrance in all its forms. She also acknowledged the sponsors and supporters of the Awards, which included Nordstrom, Takasago, Chanel, Clarins Fragrance Group, Interparfums Luxury Brands, Fragrance Resources, Firmenich, IFF, Symrise, Coty, Givaudan, Condé Nast, Brides
, Ulta Beauty, Macys, CoScentrix, Cosmopolitan
, and Luxe Pack.
In an especially moving tribute to Evelyn Lauder, who posthumously received the “Legacy of Excellence,” honor, Karen Khoury, senior vice president, The Estée Lauder Companies, said, “The work that she did and the hope that she brought to millions of women, is a testament to an amazing life well-lived.” She spoke of the 2006 FiFiHall of Fame honors Evelyn Lauder received, saying, “She was a one of a kind creative spirit,” and cited Michael Gould, Chairman & CEO, Bloomingdales, who said, “She made everyone feel special and that was her greatest legacy.”
Estée Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda.
As Leonard Lauder approached the podium, he was briefly overcome with emotion, but rallied to speak glowingly of the work and life of his late wife. He recalled seeing her at work, and saying, “We were always sniffing arms ” and characterized his wife, adding, “She truly loved the business and you all are carrying on the legacy by making women feel better and be beautiful.”
The Hall of Fame Award is voted on by the Foundation’s board of directors and is presented to an individual who has brought extraordinary ingenuity, creativity, dedication, and inner resources to bear, not only to their company’s success but to the fragrance industry as a whole.
This year, Hall of Fame Honors were awarded to Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, who was described by Christine Dagousset, executive vice president, fragrance and beauté, Chanel Inc., as a “person of paradox and contradiction.” Dagousset said as she looked into the audience that she could see Chanel’s influence. She said she saw the red lips and the little black dresses, and noted the way Chanel had changed our lives. “Coco Chanel remains a mystery, but she is alive in every drop of fragrance we create and in every aspect of our brand,” said Dagousset.
The 2012 Elizabeth Taylor Fragrance Celebrity of The Year Award, presented by The Fragrance Foundation’s board of director, honors a celebrity who has embraced and promoted the world of fragrance and celebrates the success and support given by the celebrity to the industry, winning consumers to the category.
This year, honors were awarded to Justin Bieber, whose fragrance, Someday, became a best-selling sensation. Due to a modern and sexy juice created by Honorine Blanc, of Firmenich, and the star’s following on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, the fragrance has broken records as Bieber’s first female scent. According to Linda Levy, Macys, who presented the award to Bieber, via satellite, “There is something going on in the celebrity category that is bringing young customers into our stores.”
The fragrance earned particular recognition for its philanthropic support of Pencils of Promise, an initiative that provides education and teaches values for children around the world, which has partnered with Give Back Brands. Paul West, Founder & CEO, Give Back Brands, accepted the award on his behalf, noting that all the net profits of the fragrance go to Pencils of Promise and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Bieber has brought a new generation into the world of fragrance, as well as a charitable sensibility.
This award recognizes the actual juice of a fine fragrance, an extraordinary olfactive creation launched in 2011. The award is about craftsmanship and aesthetic beauty, and not only recognizes the fragrance house, but also the perfumer or perfumers, who have created the fragrance. Honors were awarded this year to International Flavors & Fragrance for Bond No. 9’s New York Oud. The olfactive creation, by perfumer Laurent Le Guernec, is a modernized oud, with a velvety texture, which joins musky teak wood and vetiver, to provide its urban forest interpretation.
IFF President, Nicolas Mirzayantz, Bond No. 9 Founder, Laurice Rahmé, and perfumer, Laurent Le Guernec accepted the honors at the podium. At the reception following the ceremony Rahmé was overwhelmed and moved by the honor. “I was so thrilled and excited. I was shaking and holding onto Laurent. This has been such an exciting evening, and I was so nervous. Thank you all for your support,” said Rahmé, clearly moved by the experience.
Jill Belasco and Cos Policastro
The FiFi Awards have always been a cause for celebration, but this year’s event had a freewheeling feel and spontaneity to it that made it special. From the moment the teleprompter and video went out during Nicole Richie’s and Cos Policastro’s presentation, everyone knew they were in for a great ride. The temporary lull until power was restored brought Jane Lynch back out to the podium for a little spontaneous dance, and Sam Champion, Channel 7’s weather anchor, joined the group on stage too, deciding to fill time by doing the weather! It was so good-natured and well received that once the video and prompter were working again everything went swimmingly, as if the experience had occurred among friends.
Mary Ellen Lapsansky, Vice President, The Fragrance Foundation, summed it up, saying, “Expectations were high and I think they were met tonight. The venue changed everything dramatically. People came in a positive mood and left in a positive mood. We’ve come back home. We’ve done it and we plan to hold our future FiFis here again. We think the show went particularly well and hope that people will enjoy coming back next year.”
The 2012 FiFi Award Winners are:
Tom Ford Violet Blonde - Tom Ford Beauty
Gucci Guilty Pour Homme - P&G Prestige
Nouveau Niche Women
Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge - Private Blend - Tom Ford Beauty
Nouveau Niche Men
Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge - Private Blend - Tom Ford Beauty
Broad Appeal Women
Heidi Klum Shine - Coty Inc.
Broad Appeal Men
Curve appeal for men - Elizabeth Arden
Specialty Brand Women
Anthropologie 1922 Lily Sanguine Eau de Parfum - Inter Parfums USA
Direct To Consumer Men
Comme une Evidence Green - Yves Rocher North America Inc.
Best Packaging of the Year - Luxe Women
Prada Candy Eau de Parfum Spray – Puig USA
Best Packaging of the Year - Luxe Men
John Varvatos * USA - Elizabeth Arden
Best Packaging of the Year - Broad Appeal Women
Victoria's Secret Angel - Victoria's Secret Beauty
Best Packaging of the Year - Broad Appeal Men
Curve Appeal for Men – Elizabeth Arden
Media Campaign - Men
Gucci Guilty Pour Homme - P&G Prestige
Media Campaign - Women
Coco Mademoiselle - Chanel
Bath & Body Line
Acqua di Gioia - Giorgio Armani Beauty
Interior Scent Collection of the Year
34 boulevard Saint Germain – diptyque
International Flavors & Fragrances
Fragrance Hall Of Fame: Women’s
24 Faubourg – Hermès, Beauté Prestige International
Fragrance Hall Of Fame: Men’s
Acqua di Gio - Giorgio Armani Beauty
2012 FiFi Consumers’ Choice Award – Women’s
Victoria’s Secret Angel – Victoria’s Secret Beauty
2012 FiFi Consumers’ Choice Award – Men’s
BBW Signature Collection for Men Classic – Bath & Body Works
Additional information about the Fragrance Foundation and its programs may be found at: www.fragrance.org