It is with great jubilation and honor that I am able to bring you coverage of the US FiFi 2011 as New York Correspondent for Basenotes. I'd like to thank everyone who followed me on Twitter on Wednesday night as I stumbled through the award ceremony held at Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center. Most of all, I'd like to thank Grant Osborne whose visionary insight and editorial excellence I have always admired, for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend this prestigious event to honor the greatest in the industry. I enjoyed getting the inside glimpse into the glamorous, provocative and somewhat off-the-beaten-path orbis terrarum of Fragrance Art.
Truly, I enjoyed the entire experience, from arriving on location as the only member of the press in a floor-length gown, to being the only one in the room who applauded loudly when Jacques Polge was mentioned!
Without further ado, here are my impressions and analyses of some of the night's winners (you can see a full list here):
Fragrance of the Year Women's Luxe: Gucci Guilty (P & G Prestige)
I'm glad it won. It was an instant hit with me when I discovered it. Still, I think more New Yorkers I spoke to on the night of the event were familiar with the scent of...
Fragrance of the Year Men's Luxe: Bleu de Chanel (Chanel)
It's not my favorite scent - it's too traditionally masculine Fougère in an Aramis-Polo-Brut way for me, but it's so well done, well-known and loved, I'm glad it won, too. I hope Chanel wows me again with another launch like Les Exclusifs.
Hall of Fame Men's: Jean Paul Gaultier 'Le Male' (Beauté Prestige International)
This is a classic by Francis Kurkdjian, a must smell for everyone. Le Male is sexy in a non-traditional way. And who's brave enough to display that torso bottle? Everything about it rocks.
Hall of Fame Women's: Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey (Beauté Prestige International)
L'Eau d'Issey combines intelligent design with a timeless sense of purity and innocence. The aesthetically pleasing minimalist bottle holding its clean, modest fragrance continues to be raved about as it garners new fans.
Bath & Body Collection of the Year: Coco Mademoiselle Bath Essentials (CHANEL)
Everyone vs Chanel? It's no competition. Perfumistas (and I use this term to be all inclusive, genderwise) know Chanel makes one of the most luxurious, silky-feeling, high quality B&B lines. However, I'm pretty sure Chanel won because of the sales numbers, and those numbers are due to the iconic fragrance composed by Jacques Polge.
Interior Scent Collection of the Year: Jonathan Adler "Happy Chic" (The Maesa Group for Jonathan Adler)
I don't know much about this division because I generally don't use interior scents, but I noticed Le Labo on the list of nominees.
Best Packaging of the Year Luxe Women's: Gucci Guilty (P & G Prestige)
I like the Guilty packaging, but I thought it would be hard to beat by Kilian. The million dollar question, however, is whether Kilian Hennessy was at the show.
Best Packaging of the Year Luxe Men's: Marc Jacobs Bang (Coty Prestige)
I don't like the name Bang, but hey, it is Marc Jacobs, which means, of course, it looks indisputably stylish.
Best Packaging of the Year Broad Appeal Women's: BOMBSHELL (Victoria's Secret)
Mariah Carey is awesome and I'm glad her scent made the list, but I'm still digesting the name Lollipop Bling. I just feel that the combination of the two names sends out the wrong message. I guess perfume names from yesteryear, like "Guerlain Chant d'Arômes" or "Caron N'Aimez que Moi", are comparatively bland.
Best Packaging of the Year Broad Appeal Men's: Herve Leger Homme (Avon Products, Inc.)
Samba Sun Man by The Perfumer's Workshop Ltd. (of Tea Rose fame) made the list. Those jelly-like ringed bottles are memorable, and the original Samba for Women smells pretty good (light fruity floral in a purple bottle). There are as many Samba fragrances as there are aspects of Eros (Samba French Kiss Man, Samba Unzipped Man, Samba Unzipped Universe Man, etc).
Media Campaign of the Year: Gucci Guilty (P & G Prestige) (Women's), Bleu de Chanel (Chanel) (Men's)
Both print ads were slick enough to lure me to sniff.
Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year: Givaudan (for Untitled Maison Martin Margiela)
I haven't smelled Untitled Maison Martin Margiela but I think it's become a new 'cult' scent. Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year recognizes the actual "juice" of a fine fragrance, categorically meant to recognize the Essential Oil Company. I'm curious to know how natural this actually smells. Maybe natural perfumers can weigh in.
Fragrance of the Year Specialty Brand Women's: BOMBSHELL (Victoria's Secret)
Although I haven't smelled it, Bombshell by name alone is a strong launch (like Flowerbomb - I wonder if it's a fruitchouli as well), and has proven impossible to beat.
Fragrance of the Year Specialty Brand Men's: Banana Republic / Republic of Men Essence EDT (Inter Parfums USA)
There is no Republic of Women; I hope they'll remedy that. I was surprised and amused to find out that Twilight Woods, which has a following among perfumistas, is a Men's scent. That might explain my initial reaction to it "not smelling like a bed of roses".
Fragrance of the Year Broad Appeal Women's: Halle by Halle Berry Pure Orchid (Coty Inc.)
Halle, Shakira, Eva - a trio of beauties congregated here. I haven't smelled any on the list, but I'd like to. Halle the actor is so lovely - next year, please someone blend for her an exquisite rose.
Fragrance of the Year Broad Appeal Men's: Herve Leger Homme (Avon Products, Inc.)
I can't comment on scents I haven't smelled, but I see Antonio Banderas got on the Secret trend. Thanks to Guerlain Les Secrets de Sophie, it's one of the hipper bandwagons to be on. Will he launch The Secret Intense next? The Secret Unzipped Universe Man is sure to follow.
Fragrance of the Year Direct to Consumer Women's: My Life by Mary J. Blige (Carol's Daughter)
CAROL'S DAUGHTER in BROOKLYN!!!! CONGRATS!
Fragrance of the Year Specialty Luxe: Balenciaga Paris (Coty Prestige) (Women’s), Tom Ford Azure Lime (Tom Ford Beauty) (Men’s)
I thought it was remarkable that Tom Ford Azure Lime appears on both Women's and Men's lists of finalists. Voyage d'Hermès made both Women's and Men's lists in Luxe as well. As the Grammys have become gender-neutral, the Fragrance Industry is making headway in creative ways to cater to the whole spectrum of sexual identity.
Fragrance of the Year Indie brand - Women's / Men's / Unisex: Six Scents Parfum: Series Three
Started in 2009, the niche / shared scent category is the biggest sign the fragrance industry is becoming more non-gender specific while simultaneously becoming more open to independent creators and creations. Mainstream celebs are jumping on the trend, including Justin Bieber whose shared fragance, My World, was launched in 2010.
Technological Breakthrough of the Year: Robertet Fragrances, Inc. Seed to Scent (Fragrance Creation and Formulation), International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc. "Redken Radiant Sea Spray" Encapsulation Technology (Packaging Technology and Delivery Systems), Firmenich, Inc. osMoz iPhone App (Information Technology)
Grasse-based flavor and fragrance house Robertet has launched a fragrance development program to showcase Robertet’s perfumers and technical experts who work with local communities to sustainably-source and process the best natural ingredients for use in their creations. IFF took home an award for their "time-touch technology". Finally, we all want an app that lets us sample fragrances; the osMoz app sounds like the next best thing.
I hope I am able to leave you with the most positive impression of the industry which tries to break old stereotypes to replace them with new and innovative ways of not only selling products, but to serve the fragrance loving community at large. In every corner of the world, there is a need for fragrance to accompany us through life, for reasons that are much more than skin deep, and in fact, not meant to be reduced to reasons at all but for a love that resonates in our heart and soul, connecting us to the essence of who we are inside.