Mar

FLOWER POWER: LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG

FLOWER POWER: LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG
Spotlight

FLOWER POWER: LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG

FLOWER POWER: LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG

March 2021

Talk to Louie Schwartzberg for two minutes, and you’ll immediately get caught up in his enthusiasm about the awe-inspiring splendor of flowers and the natural world. Watch one of his films—even for two seconds—and the same thing will happen. Whether with his Moving Art series on Netflix, his Wonder & Awe podcast, or films such as Fantastic Fungi and Wings of Nature, Schwartzberg’s mission is to explore both the magnificence and the minutiae of the planet, inspiring us to look beyond ourselves. This is why he was the perfect partner for the Fragrance Foundation to bring the theme of Fragrance Day 2021—florals—to life.  The award-winning artist and filmmaker has been focusing his gaze, and camera, on flowers for 40 years, documenting them in time-lapse as they progress from buds to glorious open blooms. His flowers blossomed on the Fragrance Foundation’s social media feeds and throughout the Fragrance Day celebrations, providing opportunities for meditative moments on the miraculous, spellbinding glory of nature. “It’s a beautiful way to get people turned on to being more aware, more conscious,” Schwartzberg says. “It’s all about the one-ness of it all. Let life flourish.”

How did your collaboration with the Fragrance Foundation come about?

I think that Linda went to see my film Fantastic Fungi on the big screen when it came to New York, and we connected after that. I always encourage people to see my work on the big screen if they can, because it’s mind-blowing. That’s one way to shift consciousness and to have people open their hearts, and look at life from a different point of view. It’s all about connection, oneness, beauty. People come out of the theater crying, and it’s not a sad movie. But anyway, that’s how Linda and I originally met.

How do the flowers that you filmed for Fragrance Day connect to your work as a whole?

I’ve been on this lifelong journey with my films. Before I did Fantastic Fungi, I did a film called Wings of Life. In it, Meryl Streep tells the story from the point of view of a flower getting it on with bees, bats, hummingbirds and butterflies. It’s really amazing that beauty is nature’s tool for survival, because we protect what we love. Why and how did that happen? Well, billions of years of R&D, figuring out how to make life flourish. And what orchestrates all that? What motivates all of that? I love the fact that it’s beauty. We’re hard-wired to respond to it. And flowers use color, movement, aroma, pattern. All these things trigger the senses of every living being.

A kid might ask, what is a flower? Is it just a pretty little thing? Hell, no. It’s the sexual organ of a plant. And it has evolved over millions of years with pollinators in this beautiful love affair that’s been going on. The flower seduces these messengers. Us included, because we’re slaves to flowers too. We plant flowers by the billions. We’re helping them reproduce. Why? Because they’re beautiful. They make us feel good.

For me, that’s just, as a visual artist, I’m never going to get tired of looking at flowers because no two are alike. Every color is different, the way they move is different, the way they open is different, the way they smell is different. Each one is a completely different journey into an essential experience that makes me present, makes me connect with the divine.

When did you film your first flower?

About four decades ago. I graduated from UCLA as somebody who took fine art and photography and shot a lot of the anti-war protests and fell in love with photography and history. When I got involved with filmmaking, I wanted to shoot in the highest quality format possible, because especially with nature imagery you want high resolution. But it was very expensive back then. I ended up retrofitting these old cameras that were built in the ’30s, and super high quality, that enabled me to film one frame at a time which is what time-lapse is. It really speeds up reality. With flowers, you could shoot for two or three months to get a four minute roll of film. It fit my budget. And nobody had ever shot time-lapse in 35-millimeter before.

But the other aspect of what I was doing was that it was really about capturing a sense of wonder. I wanted to be able to look at life from a different point of view than the arrogant human point of view. When there’s a fly on your arm, it would look at you like a slow-moving giant, because it’s in hyperspace. Its lifespan is maybe a couple of weeks. To redwood, which lives 500 years, we’re the ones in hyperspace. I use the camera as a time machine. It’s something that blows your mind from a scientific point of view, but also from a spiritual point of view, because it changes your perspective to realize that everything has its own way of life on this planet.

What are the biggest challenges in filming flowers this way?

It’s challenging in a lot of ways. I shoot mostly indoors, where I have grow lights and cameras and timers set up. You can’t have wind. You can’t have bugs. I need to keep the flowers happy. And it’s slow. I’ve been going nonstop 24 hours a day, seven days a week for four decades – and I’ve got 16, 17 hours of time-lapse footage.

Do you have any idea how many flowers you’ve filmed in that time?

I would say hundreds. Basically, there’s no rhyme or reason to what I choose to shoot next. There’s a casting couch actually, right outside my room where I have all these little flowers growing. But it’s whatever excites me. I’ll go to the nursery, and see something’s about to bloom. I don’t care what the name of the flower is, it’s just being able to capture its beauty.

I’ve shot some over and over again. Because it starts with a bud. How do I know where it’s going to be, three days from now? How it’s going to open? How big is it going to be? What direction will it move? Part of the joy of doing it is anticipating the future. Like surfing the wave, where do I need to be to catch a wave? It makes you present. It’s a meditation in a way. I really have to understand the flower, look at it, maybe look at others around it. If it’s a little bush or a plant, see how it opened, then I take my best guess when and how it is going to bloom. The joy is when it finally does happen. If it’s beautiful, hooray. Failure, I learned something. There’s a ratio of failure. Probably get one out of six.

Do you have favorite flowers, and favorite flower scents?

I would say when it comes to scent, I’m a sucker for the ones that smell tropical, like plumeria, but they’re all good. And then, pansies are just insane when it comes to their colors. I like those deep dark purples with yellow. The velvety rich color. There’s nothing quite like it.

Watching the Fragrance Foundation flower films has such a calming, meditative quality. Why do you think that’s particularly resonant, given the pandemic?

It’s super valuable because everybody has not been able to travel and go outdoors. And so what I try to do is I try to bring nature into our environment and digital nature is certainly better than nothing at all. It’s not a replacement for the real thing, but it’s still valuable. The other thing that I think is important is, I don’t just show you a picture of a flower. I’m actually showing you a flower move, and open. I’m opening your horizons, to look at things, and take you on a journey through time and scale. It challenges the brain, because it’s like, what am I looking at? Is it real? Is it animation? Is it CGI? That is good. It means it stops you in your tracks and makes you think about it. I’ll tell you, the common reaction I get from people who watch my stuff is they go, “Oh, my God.” And what does that phrase mean? The oh means I stopped you in your tracks. The my means, it touched something deep inside of your soul, and God is universal energy that we all want to get connected to. That to me is the ultimate compliment.

What would you say your greater mission is?

To turn people on. I may have started just because I was seduced by flowers, but when I learned that the bees were disappearing, I made Wings of Life. I needed to tell the story of this love affair, and show how pollination is the source not only of our food supply but the majority of life on our planet. If you take the foundation out of life on the planet, which are the little things in life, the flowers, the bees, the fungi that creates soil, then you’re killing everybody. That would be a giant disaster. They predict we’re going to lose 50% of species in the next 30 or 40 years, which is heartbreaking. But if we lose the bees for example, Einstein said we have less than five years left to live.

The mission is to celebrate life and have life flourish. I need to tell stories that can help make people aware of how amazing the natural world is, and want to protect it and celebrate it and make the right choices, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because they’re emotionally connected to it.

THE SCIENCE OF SMELL: DR. PAMELA DALTON

THE SCIENCE OF SMELL: DR. PAMELA DALTON
Scents and Sensibility

THE SCIENCE OF SMELL: DR. PAMELA DALTON

THE SCIENCE OF SMELL: DR. PAMELA DALTON

March 2021

Pamela Dalton, PhD, MPH is an experimental psychologist who studies smell at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Her work focuses on the ways that we interact with scent in our daily lives, revealing the way that smell guides us through the world, affects our emotions, and colors our memories. The Monell Center’s research has taken on particular resonance in the Covid era, and Dalton has been working closely with individuals whose sense of smell has been impacted by the virus to develop scent training tactics designed to help restore their olfactive function. As the Fragrance Foundation has now established a close relationship with Monell, Dalton joined Linda G. Levy in an engaging conversation for Fragrance Day 2021, which you can replay here. For this month’s Accords, she goes into even greater detail about her fascinating work.

Tell us a bit about the Monell Center and what it does.

We were founded 52 years ago as a basic research center devoted to things that nobody was formally studying in an institute at the time: smell and taste. The institute started small, but it has grown exponentially over time, and our approach is a bit different now. The fundamental mechanisms of smell and taste have largely been elucidated and described so now we’re looking at the downstream effects. What happens when you lose your sense of smell? How does smell determine what you choose to eat, what kind of air freshener you choose, what perfume you wear? We’re trying to understand that in the context of everyday life.

Why has smell historically been less studied than the other senses?

One, it was undervalued greatly and so even a few years ago when people would go to their doctors and say, I can’t smell, or I’m having trouble smelling, it would be like, well, worse things could happen. It’s become very clear that that’s not true. Sometimes it is the worst thing for many people. Also, taste and smell are incredibly difficult systems to study and for a long time there was no standardized way of doing it. We knew how the visual system works a very long time ago, but we only really came to understand  the receptors for smell 20 years ago. 

Can you explain why smell is so connected to memory?

The olfactory system is privileged in its access to what we call the emotional center in the brain, the limbic system. And sensory stimulation from smell arrives in the cortex without having to go through a lot of different gateways. Our emotional reaction when we smell something is very immediate,  even when we’ve never smelled that item before. When we don’t understand what an odor represents, we’re probably going to be a little bit cautious, but this hedonic response immediately calls on our memory system and our emotional memory system to say, “ah, that’s, the smell of my first boyfriend’s cologne” or “that’s the smell of my grandmother’s kitchen when I would go to visit her.” It’s because of this privileged access between these brain structures that govern not only smell, but also emotional experience.

What are some of the things that affect the way that we feel about something that we smell?

Generally, our experience with it. I really love for there to be some definitive evidence one way or the other, but we really don’t know whether we are born as babies with innate aversions or preferences. We know that with taste, for example, all mammals will like something that’s sweet hours after birth. And if you put something bitter on their tongue, they will make a very characteristic gaping, like, get it out of here. These are hardwired probably because ingesting something sweet is nutritive and ingesting something bitter in nature could be toxic. But we don’t have any evidence that that’s true for odors.  In fact, you don’t actually see children start to mimic what we would call the standard cultural adult reactions to odors, liking or disliking, until they get to be about six to eight years old. They’re really learning from the people around them.

What happens to us physiologically when we smell something that we like?

We breathe very deeply. A very good friend and colleague of mine was studying a cinnamon apple odor at Yale many years ago when he was a postdoc. And he was amazed to see that their heart rate got much lower when they were smelling this odor. But what he wasn’t measuring at the time was how they were breathing. When they were smelling something they really liked, they took longer deep breaths, they slowed down their respiration rate, and of course that had an effect on their heart rate. People have studied breathing and relaxation for thousands of years, and it does have a beneficial effect. That’s why people tell you, when you’re stressed at work, sit back for three minutes and do some deep breathing. If an odor that you like can reinforce that, so much the better, right?

What fascinates you personally the most about smell?

The fact that I can’t really experience what anyone else is experiencing. For example, my husband is colorblind and so I know that he doesn’t see color the way I do, but I know that most other people in the world do. With odor, it’s so individual because it’s the genetics of the system that determines what we can smell, how acutely we can smell it, our own experience. With respect to odor, we really live in different sensory worlds.

So I might smell my perfume differently from someone sitting next to me?

Yes, and this is probably why most people don’t realize they have a loss of sense of smell until it’s completely gone. When I say to you “Do you see that?”, if you don’t see it and it’s sitting 10 feet in front of us, I know one of us has a problem. But if I say, “Do you smell that?” we’re much more likely to allow there to be huge individual variation. We don’t have the same confidence in the uniformity of our responses. So if you say no, I wouldn’t say “You need to get your nose checked,” whereas I would definitely say, “You need to get your eyes checked.”

What are some of the things that you’ve seen as far as that shift in thinking about smell due to COVID?

There’s much greater awareness about how devastating the loss can be. Not being able to smell makes you feel incredibly disoriented. We process odors in our environment almost automatically. And so walking into our home, our olfactory receptors are responding, but they’re not alerting us to anything as long as everything smells the way it should. But when your sense of smell is  gone, you have no marker for, “This is home” or “This is my office” or “This is the park I go to.”

How can scent training work to restore the sense of smell?

Generally, it started out by someone picking four qualitatively different scents from something that had been developed earlier as an odor wheel. You would bring these essential oils to your nose and try to inhale them for maybe a minute each, maybe think about what the odor might be, if you remember what it smelled like, like clove. It’s intentional mindful stimulation of the olfactory system. Some people have paired it with pictures, some people have started using it with odors that are specific to the individual and meaningful. There are a lot of variants to it, but it does appear to work. I think the outcomes are better the sooner you start it, and it probably relies on a certain amount of what we call synaptic plasticity. The system may not be responding but the brain representation of what that smell is still exists. We have to retrain the receptors to make those appropriate connections.

Keeping with the Fragrance Day theme, what have you learned about flower scents in your research?

We may have evolved to have some special preference for floral scents. It’s not just looking at things that are pretty and green or floral, but actually smelling them. I think that there’s a real opportunity to use floral scents in a way where they do have benefits for us in terms of relaxation and stress relief.

Finally, what does the support of the Fragrance Foundation mean for the Monell Center?

It brings us an opportunity to convey our science to a wider audience. It also provides us with a level of expertise in the world of fragrances, which is very valuable.  And I think because of the Fragrance Foundation’s reach in the industry and beyond in consumers, we can provide understanding of our science through another outlet. I think the synergy of the association is a beautiful thing.

PERFUMER Q&A: FRAGRANCE DAY SPECIAL EDITION

What The Nose Knows

PERFUMER Q&A: FRAGRANCE DAY SPECIAL EDITION

March 2021

Meabh Mc Curtin – IFF

What were your impressions of participating in the 2021 virtual Fragrance Day?

I loved seeing the beautiful time-lapse images of flowers by Louie Schwartzberg. His message of the importance and beauty of nature feels particularly pertinent at this moment. It was also really inspiring to listen to the creative dialogue between brand owners and perfumers. I love how each person’s unique story gets translated into scent through sharing their passion, vision, values and life experiences.

What do flowers represent to you, both personally and as a perfumer?

To me flowers represent the joy of being alive and present. It speaks to our humanity that we respond so strongly to their beauty. Flowers also represent hope – seeing lilac, cherry blossom and daffodils appear in spring makes me feel profoundly happy. As a perfumer, I often feel that my work is to try and unlock the seductive and mysterious codes of flowers. It’s an enriching and humbling exercise; nature has a sophisticated simplicity that is impossible to match.

What are your favorite floral notes to work with, and why?

I love orange flower in particular because I was not familiar with it at all growing up in Ireland. I remember clearly the first time I smelled it.  I was on a boat in Morocco and we sailed past a grove of orange trees. The air was heavy with the smell, and I was mesmerized. Depending on how you work it, it can go from clean and bright to very sensual and hypnotic. I also love gardenia and tuberose. The fleshy sensuality of these flowers reminds me of the fragrances that women were wearing around me as I grew up–I associate them with strong independent women.

Dora Baghriche – Firmenich

What were your impressions of participating in the 2021 virtual Fragrance Day?

It always feels good to share my passion with others. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about our Olfactive Design partnership with Central Saint Martins. We felt so lucky to work with these amazing students to develop some ideas about how fragrance can have a more positive impact on society. For example, I worked on a refreshing, watery, green scent for the Fragrance Ventilator to show how we could alleviate some of the stress in the cities today. There were so many really interesting projects that demonstrated a new path for the use of fragrances in the future.

What do flowers represent to you, both personally and as a perfumer?

Flowers are full of possibilities. They still have many unexplored facets, unchartered territories.

What are your favorite floral notes to work with, and why?

Orange blossom, in all its forms and shapes! Creating a new rose is always an exciting challenge as well. Finally, tuberose, for its milky, solar facet; it’s a note that suits my tastes.

 Dana Schmitt – Givaudan

What were your impressions of participating in the 2021 virtual Fragrance Day?

I really enjoyed the virtual Fragrance Day event! I loved seeing and hearing from people with different perspectives in the industry. It felt like an amazing way to welcome Spring this year, celebrating flowers and the idea that we too will (hopefully) be blooming again sooner rather than later!

What do flowers represent to you, both personally and as a perfumer?

To me, flowers represent love! My fiance likes to spoil me with flowers and it’s just a nice treat that he will surprise me with randomly–it’s his way of showing he loves me. As a perfumer, flowers themselves take me back to my time at the Givaudan Perfumery School. We have a beautiful flower garden that we use to study and perfect our accords. Thinking of almost any specific flower takes me to that beautiful moment in my life where I was focused on learning directly from nature.

What are your favorite floral notes to work with, and why?

I definitely go through phases of favorite notes to work with, but currently my favorite floral notes are in the rose family. I have been playing with some rosy raw materials introduced recently to our palette, and I’m on a quest to create my own personal perfume that is based on a rose. Stay tuned…

Nathalie Benareau – Symrise

What were your impressions of participating in the 2021 virtual Fragrance Day?


I loved that there were so many different conversations and perspectives around perfumery. Having the opportunity to watch other perfumers express themselves was very interesting as I believe perfumery comes from the heart and all perfumers have different sensitivities when creating or even simply when talking about fragrances. I love how emotions play such an important role in our craft.

What do flowers represent to you, both personally and as a perfumer?

I grew up in the countryside so I was surrounded by flowers in my parent’s garden, but also in the nature that surrounded our house. There were beautiful prairies, forests and gardens, and when spring came it was such a pleasure watching nature come to life with colorful blossoms and the heavenly scent of flowers in the air. I vividly remember purple lilacs and their intoxicating scent. As a perfumer, flowers represent femininity but also nature, renewal and life itself. They can add signature to a fragrance and really bring a large spectrum of strong emotions: love, happiness, sensuality, relaxation etc.

What are your favorite floral notes to work with, and why? 


I love muguet, or lily of the valley. Its scent is so delicate; simple yet faceted, pure yet playful and colorful. It can be in the heart of any fragrance and can blend very nicely with many types of floralcy.  It can modernize a rose, harness the animalic facet of a jasmine, add lift to the creaminess of a lactonic note in a white floral…the possibilities are endless.

Catherine Selig – Takasago

What were your impressions of participating in the 2021 virtual Fragrance Day?

Participating in the 2021 virtual Fragrance Day made me feel part of our global fragrance community uniting to bring wellness and joy through the olfactive experience in consumers daily lives

What do flowers represent to you, both personally and as a perfumer? 

I feel a special connection to flowers both personally and as a perfumer. 

For me, each flower is associated  with an emotion, a place and a moment in time. I infuse flowers in my fragrances as vessels of those emotions, I carefully choose each flower for its unique energy and vibration in the composition. 

What are your favorite floral notes to work with, and why?

My favorite floral notes to work with are White flowers. White flowers create a halo of comfort and have the power to make the mind travel in time to various places.


THE INSIDE SCOOP: 2021 VIRTUAL FRAGRANCE DAY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: 2021 VIRTUAL FRAGRANCE DAY
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP: 2021 VIRTUAL FRAGRANCE DAY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: 2021 VIRTUAL FRAGRANCE DAY

March 2021

This edition of Accords marks one full year we are staying home. We look forward with optimism to a brighter future. While we must never forget the lives lost or the impact this pandemic has had ravaging the planet, we all must move forward together. During this most challenging year, we have stayed connected as a fragrance community virtually and hope we will be reunited in person later in 2021. Our theme of Fragrance Day for Accords exemplifies our bonds creatively and through the sense of smell.

The good news for fragrance is that creativity has often flourished and more people have discovered how scent can enhance their lives.  The majority of our community and consumers have actually rebalanced their lives to focus on what is truly important and take nothing for granted.  All over the world, people have as the saying goes “taken the time to stop and smell the roses.”  The phrase has long been a friendly reminder to slow down and enjoy life, to take the time to savor the beauty around you, to relax. It is one positive force that has spread globally for those fortunate enough to be able to adopt it.

This edition of Accords puts a spotlight on our 2021 Fragrance Day collaboration with award winning filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg, who brought our focus on flowers to an extraordinary level. Enjoy getting to know Louie in this special interview with our editor April Long and you will learn why we feel fortunate and grateful for this awe inspiring man whose unique lens will continue to mesmerize us all.  Louie often says our partnership began when we met and he quotes “You had me with hello.” Louie had me way before “hello” when I stepped into a theater and viewed  his astonishing filmmaking. You need not go to the theater, you can be wowed on Netflix to start your journey.

Our first ever 2-day virtual Fragrance Day on March 21 & 22 allowed us to showcase Louie’s magnificent videos as well as feature over 20 world renowned Perfumers, many brands, new TFF Indies, fragrance houses, retailers and more. I was honored to interview Monell Center’s Research Scientist Dr. Pamela Dalton. April Long sat down with Dr. Dalton to add even more to our education on the sense of scent. 

In every Accords we proudly feature Perfumers and today we have Perfumers who had roles in Fragrance Day sharing their perspectives on this special 2021 event. As this is Womens’ History month, we highlight these 5 women Perfumers from diverse backgrounds.

If for any reason you could not watch Fragrance Day live, or wish to experience any portion again, please replay and enjoy here.

Spring is off to a great start and we look forward to the fragrant journey ahead with you all!

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Feb

2021 NOTABLES: THE YEAR AHEAD

2021 NOTABLES: THE YEAR AHEAD
Spotlight

2021 NOTABLES: THE YEAR AHEAD

2021 NOTABLES: THE YEAR AHEAD

February 2021

TFF introduced its inaugural Notables Awards in 2015, and has inducted exceptional individuals, nominated by their colleagues for their contributions to the fragrance community, every year since. On February 10th, 2021, in the first ever virtual Notables ceremony, a new generation joined the growing group. The contribution of Notables is extremely valuable to TFF, not only in their roles as ambassadors to the greater world, but directly, as they weigh in on strategy and generate creative ideas as part of the Notables Think Tank. For this edition of Accords, we spoke to the new inductees about what the honor means to them and what they hope to bring to the table going forward.

“It’s such an honor to be in company with these other young leaders and the brands they represent,” says 2021 Notable CeCe Conner, Marketing Manager, North America for BYREDO. “Being part of 2021 TFF Notable Class is a reminder of all the creativity, passion, and innovative thinking that exists in the fragrance industry today and the exciting future it has.”  Andrea Duarte, Director, Integrated Communications, Shiseido, says that being named a Notable “has been a proud moment, both professionally and personally. Fragrance has always been a part of my life, and it feels like coming full circle to be recognized for the role I play in the industry today. I am honored that my genuine passion for the art of fragrances has translated into the work I do alongside my amazing team.” The thrill of being positioned so that they can share their enthusiasm and ideas with like-minded peers is a sentiment shared by all. Or, as Cailin McCarthy, Director of Marketing, NEST New York puts it, “I love the fragrance industry and feel so lucky to be a part of it. To be recognized within it is mind-blowing.”

The new Notables are unanimously aligned with TFF’s goals for greater inclusion within the fragrance industry, calling it out as something they consider very important going forward. “The Fragrance Foundation’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are critical to creating a more welcoming industry environment that’s representative of society around us. I would like to see TFF drive this essential change in the year to come,” says Jessica Leslie, Senior Marketing Manager for Firmenich. Education and mentoring, too, are top of mind for the 2021 Notables, who will be active in connecting with students at their alma maters as well as working with industry fledglings who are learning the ropes. “I think sharing my personal experience and growth in this industry could help to inspire others that are interested in this field. I am looking forward to the Fragrance Foundation mentorship initiative and the opportunity to speak to students at FIT and other local colleges and universities, says Chantell Gerena, Fragrance Development Director, Symrise. “TFF is such an inspiring organization and uniquely positioned as it serves as the mouthpiece for an entire industry. Promoting TFF as an educational resource, especially for young professionals in the industry is something I’m looking forward to taking part in,” says Tim Halle, Marketing Director Fragrances, Christian Dior. “I hope that I’ll be able to connect others with the amazing resources TFF provides.”

Paying forward the guidance that they themselves received is key, too. “I look forward to mentoring people coming up in the industry,” says McCarthy. “I was lucky that I had a handful of incredibly generous people who shared their passion and knowledge.  It makes such a difference when you have someone looking out for you.”

As we all are, the Notables are looking forward to the TFF events of 2021 and beyond, and already have some thoughts about what they would like to see. “In the coming year, I hope to see TFF continue to offer new and exciting educational opportunities, such as Masterclasses that provide the chance to hear and learn from iconic changemakers in the industry, in addition to expanding the knowledge of the fragrance industry as a career path to college students and entry-level candidates,” says Lindsay Tomaro, Senior Manager, PR and Influencer Marketing, Coty. “In a time where many are still working remotely, the coming year offers an excellent opportunity to expand our reach and capitalize on the ability to bring many people together in digital forums.”

But of course, what will be better than finally being able to join together and celebrate IRL? “I simply can’t wait to finally meet and connect with people in person again!” says Leslie. “To be able to bond and chat about what’s next in this industry over a glass of wine is the dream. Second, the opportunity for unexpected discovery or inspiration is so much greater when exploring the world in person. I look forward to doing this again soon.” There will be much to enjoy and share in the months ahead, when even the simplest things will seem revelatory. Like, says Halle, “Being able to have conversations without realizing 30 seconds in that you’ve been on mute the whole time.” Cheers to the Notables class of 2021.

NOTABLE ALUMNI: ACCOMPLISHMENTS & ASPIRATIONS

NOTABLE ALUMNI: ACCOMPLISHMENTS & ASPIRATIONS
Scents and Sensibility

NOTABLE ALUMNI: ACCOMPLISHMENTS & ASPIRATIONS

NOTABLE ALUMNI: ACCOMPLISHMENTS & ASPIRATIONS

February 2021

Once you’re a Notable, you are forever a Notable. Ever since TFF began honoring Notables in the fragrance community in 2015, those individuals have become a part of the TFF family, and have played a role in guiding policy and planning events via the Think Tank. At TFF, every voice is heard, and the power of the growing Notable community is that with each year that group of voices grows ever more diverse. Organizations have nominated Notables, too, from virtually every division and job description in the fragrance world, building a strong collaborative force with a real understanding of how things work and how we can all work together. For this issue of Accords, we checked in with some of TFF’s past Notables to see how they have found the experience so far.

Since becoming a Notable, many of our honorees have hit career milestones. “Since being named a Notable, I was promoted to Fragrance Director of Cartier North America and had to lead my team through the challenges of the pandemic, while maintaining a positive outlook,” says Anais Nouvet, North America Fragrance Director, Cartier, Class of 2018. “I am most proud of seeing the resilience and creativity that each of my team members demonstrated in these tricky times.” Alexandra Cassar, Scent Design Manager, Fine Fragrance, IFF, also Class of 2018, says, “Since having been named a Notable, my proudest achievement has been completing my FIT Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management Masters while juggling a full-time career. You realize you can take on more than you ever deemed imaginable. The difficulty is what has made it so rewarding.” Jordan Saxemard, Vice President Marketing, US Luxury Division, Coty, galvanized the launch of Gucci Guilty Eau de Parfum, beginning work with perfumer Jacques Huclier to develop the scent not long after his 2018 Notables Award. “Fast forward to Holiday 2020, the new Gucci Guilty Eau de Parfum helped the franchise reach its new peak position of #4 men’s fragrance brand in the US market: the stars were, indeed, aligned,” he says.

The TFF Think Tank meetings have been gratifying for all, with a common feeling that creative solutions are valued and that real change is being made. “I feel that they’ve provided fresh thinking and new perspectives on how the Fragrance Foundation can leverage new social platforms and utilize untraditional means to communicate with members within and outside of our industry,” says Ashli Hamilton, Project Manager, Ann Gottlieb Associates, Class of 2016. “I think the Notables Think Tank meetings have been great for TFF and the industry because we are able to effectively communicate and align on goals, values, and missions,” says Hannah Silver, Product Development Assistant Manager, NEST New York, Class of 2018. “These meetings are a safe place for us to clearly articulate what needs to happen and ignites an inspiring start for change.” Saxemard adds, “These meetings are crucial to the future of our industry. We must keep a pulse on present and future trends at all times to stay ahead of the game and continue to inspire the American people through the art of fragrance.”

The Notables also appreciate that they all bring something very different and special to the table. “I grew up on a dirt road in Western Pennsylvania. I now live on a graffiti-covered street in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I combine a small-town boy’s appreciation for life’s simple joys with a New Yorker’s love of the fantastically weird,” says Justin Welch, Director of Marketing, Firmenich, Class of 2017. “We all took separate journeys to meet together in this industry. Our individual stories have the power to facet a beautifully colorful dialogue together.”

As the new year gets rolling, the Notables are brimming with ideas and goals that they hope to implement with TFF moving forward. When asked what she would like to see TFF accomplish in the coming year, Hamilton says, “A topic that’s been a hot button for me is the truth behind “naturals” and having a forum for industry leaders to debunk some of the myths around naturals being the holy grail for consumers. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and I think it would be helpful for us as an industry to demystify some of that information that natural isn’t always better.” Silver says she would hope to see TFF “bring more attention to sustainable practices across the fragrance industry. Right now, fragrance houses have done a comprehensive, dynamite job sourcing materials and ingredients in a sustainable way, but the same has not happened for packaging. There are so many innovative packaging materials for both consumer-facing and business to business. I am hoping TFF brings to light the amount of opportunity we have to implement ethical processes and practices.” And for Cassar, it’s all about spreading the good word: “I would love to see TFF achieve their goal in getting the word out to colleges. Our industry is so hidden, you either know someone who works in it or you fall into it by pure chance. Imagine the talent we could be missing out on?”

Lastly, they share advice for those who are just starting out, and dream of becoming a Notable in the future. “Work hard, and communicate with your team and colleagues,” says Liza Ketcham, Account Executive, Givaudan, Class of 2019. “Speak up when you need help and speak up when you’re ready to take on more. Take ownership when you make a mistake, and learn from it. Learn as much as you can from the people around you, not just in your area of the business. And finally, don’t always take everything so seriously—it is just as important to work hard and do your job well as it is to laugh and make connections with people and find joy in the parts of your job that you really love.”

2021 NOTABLES PERFUMERS: GROUNDED BY SCENT

2021 NOTABLES PERFUMERS: GROUNDED BY SCENT
What The Nose Knows

2021 NOTABLES PERFUMERS: GROUNDED BY SCENT

2021 NOTABLES PERFUMERS: GROUNDED BY SCENT

February 2021

Aurore Mane, Perfumer – MANE

What does being named a 2021 Notable mean to you?

It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the people I work with and the fragrance industry. As a perfumer, receiving criticism is part of your everyday job. It is always about creating a perfect fragrance, being very critical about your own creations. Receiving this award is a humbling experience, and as a woman in the industry, I feel empowered to be recognized and hopefully I can lead by example for future women for years to come.  

What can you add in value to TFF as a Notable perfumer?

There is a whole process behind the launch of a fragrance and as a perfumer I take pride in being at the heart of it. I want to value fragrances as an experience, and not just another product to be sold to consumers. Fragrance is an emotional journey, a form of art that expresses an idea created with imagination. And as a perfumer I think it is important to showcase more of the essence of fragrances and maybe bring a different vision to it.  

How would you describe your style as a perfumer?

I am not afraid to blend unexpected ingredients and to overdose them. I like to be bold and let my emotions guide my creativity.  Isn’t it how Chanel No. 5 was created? An overdose of aldehydes?

What are your favorite notes to work with?

I love working with woody notes. They are dependable and pliable. Woods can be mysterious, elegant, modern, unexpected, complex, textural and layered. They automatically provide a bottom note to any composition and reinforce other elements depending on their olfactive profile. Woody notes bring depth, dimension, character, texture and sensuality to any fragrance and it is a way to complete a scent and add a signature.

Is there a scent that you have found keeps you grounded and calm?

Any scents that reminds me of my childhood and my home town the south of France. The smell of mimosa flowers in February, jasmine, roses and orange blossom during summer.

The lavender fields and the exquisite smell of my mom’s kitchen. All these scents remind me of very happy times and unforgettable memories that keeps me calm and grounded.

How do you think that our relationship to scent will change once we are out in the world again?

We might have a resurgence to basics once we are out in the world. I think people are going to look for smells that soothe and ground them and bring a sense of nostalgia.

Being on hold for such a long time has stopped people from experiencing life like they used to know. And when we return to a sense of normalcy, I believe people will appreciate and value scents in a transformative way.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am really looking forward to traveling again. As a perfumer, I am a very curious person and creating fragrance is very emotional to me. Emotions come from my experiences and interactions with others and my surroundings. This is what drives my creativity. So I am really looking forward to reconnecting with people face to face, and to have drinks or bites with friends in a social setting as opposed to over Zoom calls!!

Mackenzie Reilly, Junior Perfumer – International Flavors & Fragrances

What does being named a 2021 Notable mean to you?

It is an honor, as it signifies being recognized by my peers and colleagues (and the board of TFF), as well as others in the fragrance world.  I am very proud to represent IFF as a Perfumer and as a Notable, and am humbled to be in such great company as the other honorees.

What can you add in value to TFF as a Notable perfumer?

I hope to contribute to the future of the fragrance industry in many ways, including in the discussions we will have about how to take sustainability and respect for the environment to the next level. I know that participating in the TFF Notable Think Tanks will allow for great discussions across company lines and among professionals and creatives in different fields of expertise.  There are not so many perfumers in the group, so I am looking forward to adding that voice and unique perspective into the mix.

How would you describe your style as a perfumer?

My style is constantly evolving, but I am always told my fragrances are very signed.  I like to create sophisticated fragrances, elegant in structure, very qualitative and I am always experimenting with our beautiful palette of natural ingredients from LMR. 

What are your favorite notes to work with?

I love working with clean cedar & amber ingredients, musks, and mineral woody notes.  I also love to work with Orris as I find it extremely versatile, chic, and timeless.  Orange blossom and Jasmine Sambac are two of my favorite florals, and I also love accents of notes like Ambrette seed and Clary Sage absolute, as they can enhance woods, florals and musks so beautifully. 

Is there a scent that you have found keeps you grounded and calm?

Scent in general is very grounding! To smell, you must be extremely focused and present, which is intuitively calming. I have been practicing yoga for 20 years and find that scenting the space creates a grounding and sacred atmosphere. That being said, I do gravitate towards Palo Santo, Olibanum, and Copal for their particularly grounding effects. 

How do you think that our relationship to scent will change once we are out in the world again?

I think this unprecedented period of time has provoked a lot of introspection and awareness about the spaces we live in. Many people have started using, or increased their usage of, scent at home (candles, incense, room sprays) and most likely will continue that practice going forward.  I hope and expect that people will be excited to use perfume more frequently as their favorite accessory once we start going out again and socializing! 

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am most looking forward to the world finding more stability, people feeling safe and healthy again, the warm weather making it all a bit easier on us, and seeing how we can all take what we have learned from the past year’s challenges into a brighter and kinder future.  And of course, hugs, traveling, and eating once again at our favorite restaurants!

THE INSIDE SCOOP: TOGETHER WITH NOTABLES

THE INSIDE SCOOP: TOGETHER WITH NOTABLES
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP: TOGETHER WITH NOTABLES

THE INSIDE SCOOP: TOGETHER WITH NOTABLES

February 2021

TFF Notables has now reached its sixth year, and continues to be a very important force in our objective to nurture talent.  The original Notables was established with the single premise to recognize talent of those described as “up and coming in the industry”. Now we are doing so much more. A theme I use as a guiding light leading TFF, is always that TOGETHER we can achieve so much more. Together, we take action with measurable results.

All of the Notables from 2015-2021 participate voluntarily in the Notables Think Tank.  We utilize this forum to ideate, brainstorm and formalize strategies. We are forever grateful for their willingness to share “off the record” as well as formally so we may have reality checks on all topics and initiatives, including our own TFF performance.

Our goals remain even more steadfast as we take action and focus on nurturing talent via mentoring, college outreach and TFF’s signature event, Masterclass. We will reach out to  colleges and universities across the USA as alumni, to share that fragrance is a career path, and incorporate information on our website, social and more.

Most importantly as you can read in their own words, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is our #1 commitment. We are dedicated to an even more diverse Notables as our community grows. Other key topics about educating consumers regarding naturals and sustainability will be evident in 2021.

This Accords allows many Notables to share their perspectives of this special role at TFF. We are grateful to all of them that were able to meet our request based on their demanding schedules.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Jan

THE STRATEGY: LINDA G. LEVY & SHARNÉ JACKSON

THE STRATEGY: LINDA G. LEVY & SHARNÉ JACKSON Linda Levy, Sharné Jackson
Spotlight

THE STRATEGY: LINDA G. LEVY & SHARNÉ JACKSON

THE STRATEGY: LINDA G. LEVY & SHARNÉ JACKSON Linda Levy, Sharné Jackson

January 2021

As the fragrance community begins 2021 with a fresh surge of optimism, The Fragrance Foundation is stepping forward to implement a number of initiatives to help make the industry more diverse and accessible. The Fragrance Foundation continues to build upon the progress made with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative (DEI), which was introduced in 2020 with a goal of forging permanent change within the organization and the fragrance world as a whole. For this New Year edition of Accords, Fragrance Foundation President, Linda G. Levy, joins with Senior Director of Events, Education, and Give Back, Sharné Jackson, to discuss the ways in which the Foundation will rally its members—both long-standing and new—to enhance education, accessibility, and engagement, making the fragrance industry stronger and more connected as a result. 

When you decide to introduce something as important as DEI, what is the process?

Linda: 

The Fragrance Foundation is making big strides towards inclusivity. We are embracing all diverse backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, genders and identities. We have a sequence of how we make changes at The Fragrance Foundation. First, I share my vision and strategy with my small but empowered team. Next we brainstorm about what we want to do. Then we translate and articulate it so we can share it in a clear and succinct manner. Then we plan our objectives and actions. Next I propose it to the TFF Executive Committee and with that input I present it for discussion to the TFF Board. Once the board is aligned, we share it with all of our TFF membership, and afterwards we announce it to all in our TFF communications and to outside media. At that time, we open the runway and go into full action mode, as I say, “the plane is taking off.” We’re exactly at that point, the plane is past lift off and in the air, heading for its first landing.

What objectives have you set in place so far? 

Sharné: 

We’ve had several meetings with our Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee and talked about certain initiatives within the community that we want to implement. For 2021, it’s all about action. One of the initiatives that I’m really proud of involves education. I think that from an educational standpoint, young people do not know that working in fragrance is a career. We really want to step up our game. So, we have tasked each of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee point of contacts to find people who work within their companies who have connections with their colleges — to visit these schools and talk about their careers in the fragrance industry. I attended Spelman College, a Historically Black College (HBCU), and throughout my career, I’ve stayed very connected to my school. I always go back to talk to students about my career in the retail industry, and now the fragrance community, to share opportunities because I’m very passionate about mentoring and education.

There will also be a digital piece to this, so that students can really see what a career path in the fragrance industry looks like. That’s one of our big goals. When we talk about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, it’s very important for young people to see that there’s somebody who looks like them. Historically, there have been few people of color in the fragrance community and I cannot tell you how proud I am of Chris Collins, for being a trailblazer and all that he’s achieved as a black man who has had fewer resources available to him. When I talk to people within my community it is a source of pride, the expectation is that there will be other diverse brands to follow in Chris’ footsteps.

Part two of this is that we’ve asked the DEI committee members to provide us with a list of colleges and companies regarding internships, as well as job placement. I’m getting some great responses thus far, and we’re looking to roll this out with Summer Internships.

Linda:

We always knew that we needed to be involved in the student community. It seemed like a separate lane for a while, but now we’re closing the gap. I will be reconnecting with my alma mater, Lehigh University, with ELLE Beauty Director, Katie Becker, who is also an alum and one of my mentees. Taking this step with Katie will allow me to close the gap of … hmmm… several decades.

The other thing that allows us to take this leadership position is that in this industry we represent very big organizations, as well as mini brands, so we can create overall guidance, and each can adapt in their own way and culture. We formed our DEI committee by going to our board and asking them to identify people who are passionate about the subject. We have HR heads, people in marketing, all different categories. We’ve got this group that can really be aligned with us. They’re very grateful to us that we’re doing this without making rules for them and letting them just express themselves. It’s a big deal.

You’ve also been very proactive about expanding membership. How is that a part of this?

Linda:

We wanted to bring in a more expanded, diverse community. Plus, I realized that there were a lot of talented small brands that might not necessarily be on our radar. There was a backlog of indies, who had been turned off by the Fragrance Foundation in the past and couldn’t join because of monetary restrictions. So we went to the board and we changed the bylaws officially, allowing us to bring in brands, with voting rights, as well as a different type of membership structure. We have to keep this membership a short list based on our tiny team and limited bandwidth. We need to ensure we can deliver on our benefits and commitments. TFF Indie membership applications will open in July 2021. In future years we expect this will not be so limited based on our learnings and expanded partnership in our fragrance community.

Maison d’Etto is a great example of an Indie brand who contacted us way back. That is a brand that was so involved in the community, and really wanted to join TFF but was put off by the expectations of monetary commitments. I realized, instead of just looking for new, we need to embrace those people who have been trying to get in. Harlem Candle Company and Teri Johnson we did not know. So when she was brought to our attention we went after her. It’s really working both ways. But the other thing that is important is that we wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t just be about being able to say you’re a member of the Fragrance Foundation—we wanted to give them benefits.

Sharné: 

This spring we will launch the opening of our Fragrance Online Academy, which will be complimentary to our new Indie members. We will also provide them with marketing and PR in terms of including them in Noteworthy, Accords, and on Instagram – really in all parts of our Fragrance Foundation communications. 

Linda:

The key word is access. I make sure that I include these smaller brands in every conversation that I have with the media and the business network. I also make sure that we find ways that we can help them with our different members. It used to be that in order to sell at a major retailer, it could almost make a small brand bankrupt. So we’re asking our members to be a bit more lenient just as we are with our participation. We can’t redo their financial model, but we can really ask them to help us nurture these brands and give them access in ways that they would not have had before. 

Based on my 20+ years in the beauty business I was able to reach out and identify experts for an Indie Advisor Panel. They no longer have full time roles, but have great fragrance expertise and are gracious and generous enough to share their time to provide guidance to our TFF Indies in group zooms as well as one on one discussions. We are thrilled about it. The panel so far includes Gary Borofsky, Terry Darland, Nance Hastings and Nancy McKay.

What is the strategy going forward?

Linda:

We will include DEI in everything we do. The Notables will join us in our efforts. When we do our Awards, we want to make sure that the people who are presenters, and those who are nominated, are strongly representing diversity. I think we’re joining hands and we’re doing it. And when we get to the Masterclass or to Fragrance Day, which is a big conversation with the consumer, as well as within the industry, it will be clear that this is part of us. This is not just a special event.

Sharné

I’m very excited about the next generation of leaders. At the TFF Notables meeting last week I spoke about the DEI initiative and said, “You all are really going to be the ones that move this needle in everything that you do.” I was so inspired by the meeting and the enthusiasm and future participation of the Notables and how they will help to make an impact. The Fragrance Foundation understands that we can no longer do what we’ve done in the past and we have to move forward to be inclusive, putting into place the steps that we must take for change. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s an ongoing commitment.

Linda: 

I do not think there’s anything we’re going to be prouder of when we come out of this stay home pandemic year. It’s really, how do we support the industry? And without question, the enthusiasm from the Notables, from the board, from the fragrance houses, from everywhere, is huge. We’re going somewhere all together, and it’s very exciting. What we are calling diversity is opening up all we do for everyone to join us. The USA is the melting pot of the world, and there’s great optimism now. I think it’s the time to take it and make it happen. 

THE DISRUPTOR: ROB SMITH

THE DISRUPTOR: ROB SMITH
Scents and Sensibility

THE DISRUPTOR: ROB SMITH

THE DISRUPTOR: ROB SMITH

January 2021

Rob Smith calls himself a “disruptor in traditional spaces,” and the work he has done to challenge norms within the fragrance industry is nothing short of astonishing. His Phluid Project community (and gender-free Phluid Scent Elixirs) gives underrepresented LGBTQIA+ youth a platform for their voices to be heard, as well as opportunities to forge career paths free from the hindrances or bias of the past. His emphasis as a leader in the Fragrance Foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative is on education, and helping corporations transform their policies to make them more open and equitable. This month, he shares his thoughts on the DEI’s accomplishments, and the objectives he hopes to spearhead in the months ahead.  

Why do you think TFF’s DEI is so important, based on your experience in the industry?

To be honest, every industry should be focused on DEI, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s statistically proven that more inclusive companies outperform their competitors. The world continues to look more diverse, the global economy is booming, and companies that don’t stand up and face that reality, they will lose out. Starting with an inclusive workplace will bring the voices and insights into a brands voice, focus and strategy. 

Why do you feel so personally committed to this cause? 

I’m an openly gay man and I guess that I started off navigating a heteronormative Caucasian industry. Even after I came out as gay, I was performing as a straight acting executive. I suppose this helped to create a sense of empathy by being “othered.” I started to direct this passion into working within my companies to bring inclusive thinking and strategy into the workplace as well as working with nonprofits. The more I focused, the better I felt about my purpose. Now, it’s just a part of my everyday existence. But, I tell myself everyday, I can always do more and give more.

What are you proudest of that the DEI initiative has accomplished so far? 

I’m proud that we’re starting the conversation, knowing that we don’t have the answers, and we’re willing to expose our naiveté. That takes courage. We’re lifting up underrepresented voices and giving them a platform. It was shocking to me; the lack of diversity in the fragrance industry. We have work to do. But we’ve started to take the first step. And, that’s how the journey begins.

What are the next steps? 

We need to find more and more voices from underrepresented communities to join the group. Each bringing a unique perspective. And, then we need to listen and learn. Additionally, I learned during the BLM movement that it’s our job to educate ourselves and not just sit back and wait to be educated by a minority. Once you’re educated, you can have a much more intellectual and productive conversation. Then, we move from ally to advocate, helping to create change and impact within our sphere of influence.. and we have many of them. 

What do you consider the biggest challenges we will need to overcome? 

The biggest challenge is making change in a very traditional space. Fragrance is notorious for the exploitation idealism of what it is to be male or female. It’s a dated and very unhealthy representation of masculinity, femininity and beauty. Deconstructing this space to be more inclusive will take a great deal of work and courage. 

What do you consider your mission within the DEI as well as within the fragrance industry as a whole? 

My role is, and will continue to be, a peaceful warrior. I find a great deal of satisfaction being a disruptor in traditional spaces. I hope that I can help people to think differently as we enter a conversation with an open mind and open heart. The mission statement of The Phluid Project is to “challenge boundaries with humanity”. It could serve as my personal mission statement as well. 

You’ve offered to help educate TFF member companies on communication and culture surrounding DEI. Why do you believe this is necessary? 

One of the social codes from The Phluid Project is “we are all students and we are all teachers”. I have spent the past three years learning about Gen Z, learning about the fluidity in identity, expression, orientation. I’d like to share this insight with as many interested adults as I can find, navigating us through a portal into the future. You see, I’ve learned that binary constructs hurt all of us. We are binded into “rules” about how we’re supposed to act, believe and behave. Gen Z says “I’m not this or that. I’m this AND that. We all have the opportunity to join them on this crusade toward authenticity and self-expression. Let’s stop wasting time and get on with it.

THE TRAILBLAZER: CHRIS COLLINS

THE TRAILBLAZER: CHRIS COLLINS
Scents and Sensibility

THE TRAILBLAZER: CHRIS COLLINS

THE TRAILBLAZER: CHRIS COLLINS

January 2021

As the founder of Harlem-based luxury brand, World of Chris Collins, Chris Collins is a vital force in driving diversity within the fragrance community. His enthusiastic participation in the Fragrance Foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative has been integral to the program, and by sharing his example and brand story he hopes to set an example for other Black brands to see and follow. Here, he shares his thoughts on the advances made so far, and where the fragrance community still has important strides to make to build a future where everyone is represented and given the tools and opportunities they need to thrive. 

Why do you think TFF’s DEI is so important, based on your experience in the industry?

When I entered into the world of perfume, there were very few examples of people of color that I could follow, if any. I think in high-end perfume, I had the first brand that was launched by a man of color. And it was a very tough road. I was well-accepted because I had great mentors and great support around me, but had I not had that, I think it would have been even more difficult. I think it’s important now that we shed light on the diversity in perfume. There’s so many smaller brands that don’t have the opportunity to be noticed. And I think that it is very important that the Fragrance Foundation, which has a very large, broad platform, shed light on them. I had a conversation with Linda right before the pandemic, that I thought it was a pretty big deal that a man of color had his brand sitting on a shelf next to the likes of Tom Ford, Creed, and Killian, which are brands that I look up to and that I admire very much. We should shed light on the fact that I’m next to those brands, so other brands can know that they also have the opportunity to do the same. I’ve learned so much along the way. And there’s so much to share with brands that are wanting to launch, or people who just want to be in the business, whether as a buyer, or an evaluator. People of color, both men and women, need to know that there is possibility in this industry.

Why do you believe it is crucial that people see diversity within the fragrance industry?

I just think the more you show diversity, the more people understand that they have the opportunity to be a part of it. There are some very cool brands out there, with really cool stories. I knew that once I broke into the industry, I would have to be a trailblazer, because again, people who follow, they have to know that it’s possible. I still have a long way to go. It’s not a situation that is fixed, or even up to par to where it should be, but we’re on track. And, with me and some of the other brands that are involved and with Prez Levy, I think we could really break some ground here, and open this up to a lot of brands, a lot more diverse brands, both men and women, around the world.

What are you proudest of that the DEI initiative has accomplished so far?

I’m proudest of the fact that it started as a conversation between Linda and me, and now it’s grown. And now we have so many retailers and buyers onboard who understand. I think the Black Lives Matter situation, the racial unrest that happened last year, lit a fire under a lot of retailers and a lot of people in the industry recognizing that we need more diversity in the field of perfume. I think it is happening, and I think it will happen, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud to be the brand that is being able to be discussed with these bigger brands. And now other smaller brands can see my example.

What are the next steps?

When you think next steps, it’s hard to see how this initiative will grow, but you just keep pushing forward. You put one foot in front of the other. There’s been new involvement within the Fragrance Foundation with other brands that are more diverse, so we just keep pushing. I think it’s a beautiful thing. Diversity is beautiful. Men, women from different walks of life, races, cultures, it just adds to a platform for new stories to be told.

Where would you like to see the program be in a year’s time?

Next year, hopefully, we’ll have more brands that we can shine a light on. And, we’ll keep having a conversation. We have a great Board. We have a lot of people who want to be involved, which is very exciting. I’m here to support. I’m here to help, and do whatever I can do. It will be one of my proudest accomplishments if my brand grows to a point where other brands of color have never gone, but also to bring some other brands with me. I take that job very seriously.

What do you consider the biggest challenges we will need to overcome?

The biggest challenge I think is just to convince people around the world, other retailers, other boutiques, to give us the opportunity. That is the number one thing that we all need as diverse brands, brands of color, both men and women, the LGBTQ community. We all need opportunity. Once we have the opportunity, I think we will be able to show that we’ve got good stuff. After the Black Lives Matter and racial unrest happened last year, there was new attention paid to Black brands. And, all of a sudden, I started to see all these brands come out of the woodwork that I didn’t even know existed. There are hundreds of beauty brands that are run or owned by men and women of different diverse backgrounds, and I thought that that was beautiful to see. There’s a place in this space for all of us. So hopefully, we can grow and move the initiative forward, and this time next year, we’ll have more brands on shelves by men and women of color.

What do you hope that aspiring fragrance brands can learn from your example? 

 I hope that they can learn from me that all things are possible. You have to put the work into it. I never wanted a handout. I never wanted someone to just give me an opportunity because I was Black, but I did want an opportunity to show work that I took a lot of pride in. So I hope people will give these brands at least a chance. I’m looking forward to seeing how the DEI grows, because there’s so much work we need to do, but there’s so much possibility that we can attain. I want to keep trailblazing. There’s more ground to cover. There’s more places to go, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m looking forward to making sure that there are more diverse brands in the market very soon.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: SHYAMALA MAISONDIEU & LOC DONG

What The Nose Knows

THE IMPORTANCE OF GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES: SHYAMALA MAISONDIEU & LOC DONG

January 2021

SHYAMALA MAISONDIEU, GIVAUDAN

What initially drew you to perfumery?

I chanced into the perfumery world more by a haphazard coincidence as this job wasn’t known to me, however I had always been intrigued by smells unconsciously; growing up in Malaysia, I was surrounded by a rich array of flowers and spices. It was my chemical engineering studies which landed me this job, and an interview with Dwight Loren who introduced me to the wonders and beauty of this job.

How did growing up in Malaysia impact your global perspective and work as a perfumer?

I grew up in Malaysia and started work (with Givaudan Roure) in Hong Kong after studying in Manchester, England. In Hong Kong I was exposed to the different olfactory tastes of the whole Asian market which was very specific for each country. I also had worked for 8 years with a Japanese company right after Givaudan perfumery school, and before coming back to Givaudan in 2006. I travel a lot to New York for work; and I have relatives in Chicago and Maryland. Malaysia is also a land with a rich history of trade, the spices of that whole region was actually what had prompted the Spanish (Christopher Columbus) and the Portuguese (Magellan) to indulge in that race for the discovery of the east. We had Arab and Chinese merchants coming before that, and we were afterwards colonized by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English respectively. There are three main distinct cultures in Malaysia, the Indian, the Chinese and the Malays. And there is a tendency in Malaysia of assimilating different cultures and making it our own. I think all this makes me in a way open and curious to different types of cultures, stories, food and odor.

What obstacles did you face along the way?

I must say I have been really blessed, I did face obstacles but there were always solutions.

Paperwork like visas when you come from a country that isn’t well known can be a hassle; but with a big international company like Givaudan, problems like that can be solved. I was also very lucky to be chosen to do the internal Givaudan perfumery school in Grasse at a time when there were less people dreaming to do that job, I must say. We were a very mixed group with students from Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, the United States and France; although I must admit not being able to speak French fluently in the beginning was an obstacle to blend in and feel at ease. In fact I still do misunderstand French humour after all these years.

What do you consider your mission as a perfumer?

I really love my job as a perfumer, and I love talking about my different background and culture.

I love the fact that we live at a time where the whole world is open to different tastes and different smells. The world of food has seen a huge revolution with the fusion of various ingredients from all over the world. In a way this has also helped us I think in the perfumery world to introduce different scents. For me it is a subtle way of bringing people together; making the world smaller in a way, a huge melting pot where differences are appreciated instead of shunned. To be honest I never really thought of my job as a mission, but for me I really love the idea that fragrance is a poetic way of uniting people of different generations and different backgrounds; in the same way as music or food can.

What specific notes or ingredients do you love to work with the most?

I do love various types of smells; I am naturally drawn to things which somehow reminds me of home so I love ginger and nutmeg as spices, ylang ylang and jasmine as florals and benzoin which comes from that region of southeast Asia. But I also love ambrette seeds which somehow reminds me of the freshly made soya milk I used to drink as a kid.

And yet Tonka bean is something that I use a lot even though it has no connection to where I come from.

Why is the The Fragrance Foundation Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative important to you based on your experience, and for the future of the fragrance industry?

The fragrance industry is an industry where diversity is an absolute necessity. We are catering to people from all over the world in an era where distances are becoming smaller (virtually and also in terms of time for travel). It is also an industry which promotes beauty and to a certain extent brings poetry to this world; what better way to do it with members from different walks of life. A lot can still be done to encourage people from various backgrounds; through different ways of imparting information and knowledge of how our industry functions. This will surely make our industry a brighter and richer one. Which makes the initiatives of the Fragrance Foundation to promote diversity, equity and inclusion a very meaningful one.

LOC DONG, IFF

Having grown up in a small village outside of Saigon, and originally studying medicine, you had a very unusual path to becoming a perfumer. Can you share your story with us?

I like to think that my path into perfumery isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but more that it is a path and a career that found me versus me having to seek it out. I am a firm believer that for life to have luck and opportunity in it you must be at the right place at the right time. I was just at that right place being in America where you have freedom to be what you want to be with hard work and dedication.
 
How do you think your life experiences impact your work or style as a perfumer?

I believe that everything has a positive angle. Life evolves every second of every day and I take those chances to be creative, to listen, and to encourage others to dream. This year especially we are really focusing on being together and in it collectively, and I want to make sure we stay optimistic and authentic. I always trust that by living life through a hopeful lens, it has helped me to create happy fragrances. I have gratitude every day for being so fortunate to experience a life that includes a dream of impacting someone’s day. 

 
You are one of the first Asian fine fragrance perfumers in the industry. What does that mean to you?

Being multicultural is a blessing. I love that I can share or inform people about my culture and knowledge through my creations.  We must take into consideration different ingredients and different values and always with the utmost respect and understanding. I see a fine fragrance composition as an opportunity for a consumer to discover a new ingredient, to love it, to accept it and to learn about it. I tend to think of being a perfumer as a prospect to create fragrances for everyone in the world to wear and even more importantly, for everyone to LOVE.  


What do you consider your mission as a perfumer?

My mission is simple: To make the world happier through scent.

A fragrance is a necessity that is one of the best lifetime memories that one can have. If you think of a memory of someone or something, you will always remember the smell and in that one simple fact we have a purpose to infuse happiness wherever we can. 

Which of your fragrance creations thus far are you most proud of? 

I get this question a lot and to be honest every single fragrance that I create is a part of me. It’s very hard to pick an overall favorite of my career. I’m proud of everything that I have created and what I’m working on right now, might just be my newest favorite! 

Why is the The Fragrance Foundation Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiative important to you based on your experience, and for the future of the fragrance industry?

For the last five to ten years, the world has come much closer than ever and I think it’s our job to bring more diversity to the world through fragrance and education. When you include a goal where diversity can be a vehicle of multicultural dimensions it allows us to honor the beautiful fact that there’s always a place for everyone. Diversity creates innovation and opens paths of appreciation, acceptance and embracing differences rather than rejecting them. Creating fragrances has taught me to look at the world through a lens where diversity and happiness reign over anything else; without it, we would rarely create the next best olfactive journey.

Dec

MAKING HISTORY IN PERFUME: LEONARD LAUDER

MAKING HISTORY IN PERFUME: LEONARD LAUDER
Spotlight

MAKING HISTORY IN PERFUME: LEONARD LAUDER

MAKING HISTORY IN PERFUME: LEONARD LAUDER

December 2020

Could this year be capped off more memorably? On December 15th, TFF President Linda G. Levy sat down (virtually) with the man most people consider to be the biggest name in the beauty business: Chairman Emeritus and former CEO of The Estée Lauder Companies, Leonard A. Lauder. In this incredible, very special Masterclass event, Lauder shared his memories of working with his mother Estée Lauder to build what is now a global corporation, and reflected on his experiences in business and in fragrance—even beyond what he has written about in his new, must-read book The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty. Lauder, who was inducted into the TFF Hall of Fame in 1990 and was the inaugural honoree of TFF Circle of Champions Award in 2000, is so sought after for his guru-like advice that he has taken on the unofficial mantle of Chief Teaching Officer at the Estée Lauder Companies, and to have such an intimate audience with him was truly remarkable. Now, this issue of Accords goes even further, as Lauder was generous enough to expand on some of the Masterclass conversation topics and reflect on some of Estée Lauder’s most impactful moments in the history of perfume. 

Estée Lauder has had so many significant chapters in American fragrance history. You shared the story behind Beautiful and how it became a favorite for brides in the Masterclass. Can you tell us about the development of Pleasures, and why you think it became so popular?

My late wife, Evelyn, came up with several ideas for Estée Lauder products throughout her time with us. Many of these items are now considered staples, including Pleasures, one of our best-selling fragrances. Perhaps one of the reasons it became so popular was because it had her brilliance behind it. For those who don’t know, Evelyn took charge of training our beauty advisors and sales staff, and eventually created our training program with the knowledge she acquired from her experience. Thanks to her teaching background, it’s no surprise she was great at this! She always listened and digested the information and advice she received from her advisors and used this insight to enhance her work with new products. She later became the director of new products and marketing and oversaw the creation of Pleasures from start to finish. Her ability to listen to the direction from our sales team and advisors was likely why the fragrance became so popular—because it was guided by the advice of those on the shop floor!

White Linen was a pioneer in the idea of fragrance layering when it was first launched. How did that evolve?

Starting with Estée, we introduced a new fragrance almost every other year throughout the 1970s—including White Linen. Every fragrance has its own personality, but the point was, no matter what your preference, Estée Lauder had a scent for you. We wanted our consumers to be able to express themselves with our fragrances, using whichever product (or products!) fit their needs. The idea of having a plethora of options to choose from was appealing at the time, which is why we produced a new fragrance almost every other year. We didn’t stop there either. When White Linen matured, we came out with White Linen Breeze, a lighter version.

As an art collector, what similarities do you see between visual art and fragrance?

Everyone has a unique taste! Whether it’s fragrance or visual art, everyone has their own, distinct way of expressing themselves. Everyone is fascinated by something different—a smell, an image, a painting—different art forms speak to different people. It’s magical when you think about it!  

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: LEONARD LAUDER

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: LEONARD LAUDER Credit: The Estée Lauder Companies Archives
Scents and Sensibility

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: LEONARD LAUDER

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: LEONARD LAUDER Credit: The Estée Lauder Companies Archives

December 2020

Leonard Lauder’s page-turner of a memoir, The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty, is essential for beauty junkies and aspiring moguls alike. The former CEO, who famously pens handwritten thank you notes on robin’s-egg-blue stationery, maintains that the secret to his success has been treating the company—including its employees and the brands it has acquired, including Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, Kilian Paris, Le Labo, and Jo Malone—like family. He also writes thoughtfully about maintaining equilibrium and collaboration within the Lauder dynasty itself, nearly every member of which, from Leonard’s brother Ronald and son William to his nieces Jane and Aerin and even his grand-daughter, Danielle, have come on board to enhance and enlarge the house that Estée built. Here, Lauder reflects further on his business philosophies, and how a corporation can stay forever nimble. 

Fragrance is very personal. What is the key to devising scents that can be both very popular and very individual?

The key is to listen to the consumer! They will tell you everything they need.

You have talked about human nature versus marketing, and instinct versus strategy. Where is the line between the two, and how do you balance them?

These are very important concepts, and while they may seem like opposing ideas, they work hand-in-hand for successful business operations when balanced correctly. Marketing and strategy are two concepts you learn how to use successfully; human nature and instinct you experience. That said, I want to make one thing clear: one of the most important lessons I learned that would shape my career and my life inside and outside of the company was this: to trust my instincts. Instinct is something that is natural and ingrained, but also that has its foundation in experience. If you have enough experience, somewhere along the line, instinct will kick in—crossing the line from learned strategy to experienced instinct.

What is the key to keeping a business modern?

Never stop evolving! Never stop trying to elevate your game, to reach new heights, to explore the unknown. There is always learning that can be done, and a modern business is always evolving to learn what’s next.

LIFE LESSONS: LEONARD LAUDER

LIFE LESSONS: LEONARD LAUDER
What The Nose Knows

LIFE LESSONS: LEONARD LAUDER

LIFE LESSONS: LEONARD LAUDER

December 2020

When you read The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty, it’s impossible not to be astonished at the countless times both Estée Lauder herself  & the Estée Lauder Companies were first out of the gate with a new idea. From the introduction of a bath oil that became a fragrance sensation (Youth Dew, 1953) to launching the first-ever men’s prestige fragrance to be sold in department stores (Aramis, 1963), to the first hypoallergenic skincare regimen (Clinique, 1968) and custom-blend foundation (Prescriptives, 1979), the company was a trend-setter and gamechanger for consumers and other businesses alike. We can even credit Estée Lauder with changing the way that women thought about fragrance—as something to be bought for yourself, not received only as a gift—and for introducing the idea of the fragrance wardrobe. In the book’s pages and in TFF’s Masterclass, Leonard Lauder shares his memories about all of these seismic moments, but many in his audience will perhaps most cherish his “Life Lessons”—the key insights into what everyone who knows him admires: that he has proven it possible to run a business with kindness, graciousness, and generosity. Lauder has said that he thinks in decades, not years, and always has his eye on the future—perhaps the best lesson to close out 2020.

What has been the most gratifying feedback that you have received about The Company I Keep?

When people tell me they’ve learned so many lessons from the book, it makes my heart soar. I hope people come away from this memoir with inspiring stories, sharp observations and pragmatic lessons about leadership and life and a little bit of hope. Storytelling is the best way I know how to teach.

Were there moments, or stories that you wanted to relate, that didn’t make it into the final book?

Absolutely! If it were up to me, I would have a never-ending book—there are so many stories and moments and lessons that I have acquired over the years, but unfortunately, I couldn’t include them all or I’d still be writing! There’s always another, brighter chapter waiting to be written.

You are known for giving such insightful and meaningful advice. What is the best advice that someone else has given to you?

My mother drummed into me an important lesson from a very early age: “Everyone is a competitor or a potential competitor. You can’t ignore anyone.” This lesson has guided my business decisions through the years and has been key to our successes.

That said, I have learned from many people, both past and present, that we can always learn more and the best way to do that is through listening. If there’s one enduring lesson I hope this book gives readers, it’s the importance of listening!

THE MASTERCLASS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE MASTERCLASS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY
The Inside Scoop

THE MASTERCLASS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE MASTERCLASS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

December 2020

TFF Masterclass is an important event, as it is a major element tied to our objectives of nurturing talent and contributing to our role in fragrance education. On December 15th, the Masterclass with Leonard Lauder was an extraordinary global event for all of us in the fragrance community. Over 2000 tuned in live the day of the event. Since then, more than 1000 have tuned in to watch on our website to enjoy this hour of personal storytelling and major insights.  

For Accords December edition, the timing is just right to share even more from Leonard Lauder as we all experience a year end like never before. While we are challenged during this global pandemic, there is no better time to pause and reflect on personal and professional growth as well as the impact of fragrance in the world. This unique opportunity to learn first hand from Leonard Lauder how he grew up from his childhood highchair to the CEO seat in the boardroom is recorded in his recently published memoir, The Company I Keep.

 On a personal note, I was greatly honored to have and share this conversation with Mr. Lauder. I have reconnected with so many in the fragrance world who enjoyed and valued bringing this discussion into their living rooms, conference rooms and board rooms. The heartwarming reviews and gratifying feedback continue to arrive in my email and on Instagram, but please continue to share, as we conclude a year where we all learn to grow together. Mr. Lauder himself generously let me know that the wrap up of the program with  Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World“ was very moving for him. I join him in saying it is a wonderful world thanks to people like you!

Wishing all of you a healthy, safe, peaceful holiday season and  looking forward to a better world together in 2021!

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Nov

THE PERFUME PUBLISHER: FRÉDÉRIC MALLE

THE PERFUME PUBLISHER: FRÉDÉRIC MALLE
Spotlight

THE PERFUME PUBLISHER: FRÉDÉRIC MALLE

THE PERFUME PUBLISHER: FRÉDÉRIC MALLE

November 2020

One of the brilliant rays of light in 2020? This year marked the 20th Anniversary of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, the perfume publishing house that revolutionized modern perfumery. When fragrance impresario Frédéric Malle decided to boldly embark on what was then a completely unheard-of business venture, he did so because he believed that it was time for perfumers, the unsung heroes of the industry, to finally get their due—and he knew that by giving them complete freedom, both financially and creatively, they would produce works of art destined to revitalize and galvanize the world of perfume. As we have seen, he was absolutely correct: Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle creations such as Carnal Flower, Portrait of a Lady, and Musc Ravageur are now icons, and the idea that perfume should be recognized and cherished as a true art form (signed, of course, by its creators) is not merely accepted, but celebrated.

In honor of this milestone year, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle has issued seven perfumes in limited-edition bottles specially designed by Patrick Li. A retrospective book, published by Rizzoli, reveals the breadth of ambition and the accomplishments of this visionary undertaking. The Fragrance Foundation is also shining its spotlight on Malle, who was honored in 2018 with The Fragrance Foundation Gamechanger Award, and his perfumers. This month’s special webinar edition of The Creatives featured an intimate conversation between Malle and perfumer Carlos Benaïm with Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy, and here, Malle sat down with Accords to reflect on two decades at the top of his game.  

How did you first propose your idea to perfumers 20 years ago?

I was certain that it was a good idea, but I didn’t know how anyone would take it. Pierre Bourdon was one of the perfumers I was working with most closely at the time, and he was one of the most vocal perfumers against what was happening with marketing, against the fact that he was not working with people who had full power and knowledge of the industry. I came to him and said, I have a solution to your problem. I said, things are tough for you, but I think they’re also tough for the public and I would like to create a link between people who are not happy to have a choice only between smelling very mass market and smelling old. There was no such thing as contemporary perfumes of quality at that time.

So, the first meeting was with him. I had this idea of naming the perfumers because I felt that not only was it a good story, it was simple justice. He was fascinated. Then the one who always saw himself as an artist, as an author, was Jean-Claude Ellena. He just had his break with Bulgari Green Tea. He was a bit like Zaha Hadid in the sense that everybody considered him extraordinary, but he didn’t yet have the success that he deserved. He was very true to his commitment to being an artist perfumer with a specific writing and a specific philosophy. It was very natural for me to call him, though he was not the one I was most intimate with at that time. Jean-Claude was so enthusiastic about the idea of being given carte blanche that he said, ‘I’ll do one every year for you.’ Then I called Edouard Flechier who was another huge star. I knew that he would do it out of friendship, because he’s so generous and so kind. So now I had the three most prominent perfumers in the industry backing my project.  I went progressively to complete the list of those first nine perfumers.

I knew from the beginning what the bottle design would be. That was part of the initial conversation that I had with each of them. I showed them what it would look like. I also knew that making such specific perfumes would only work if I went back to full service, not what Sephora was doing with no service. In nine months, literally from September to launching in June, I found the store, designed the store, invented a modern version of a classic perfumery where people feel comfortable and could be helped by true experts to find a perfume matching their character and their desires. The very nature of this enterprise called for an entire reorganization of the business. I even had to have my own distribution. It went deeper and deeper.

Did anyone tell you that you were crazy?

No, because I’m a very secretive person and I did not talk to anyone—especially my mother, who had been in this business for many years and who would have never believed in this. And the people who were addressing the business in a way I felt was wrong—I didn’t want to have a conversation about what I was doing with any of them, for fear of diluting my energy. I was very sure what I was doing. It was very clear in my head, and I didn’t want to pollute that. I only called a handful of people, including Christian Louboutin who was always a maverick and extremely bright, and even though we do things differently I always admired how independent he is.

How quickly after you opened could you tell that the concept was working?

One thing that really amazed me when we opened was how supportive the French press was and then the international press. I remember having a huge article in ELLE France. And I had an article in every single daily paper. We opened in June and in July couture happened as it always does and all the big buyers from the department stores came to visit. Each individual entrance was like a movie. People from Barneys explaining to me who they were and what Barneys was, and being so modest; Burt Tansky from Neiman’s having his entourage come earlier to make sure that the store was cleaned. Burt comes out of his limousine with a bodyguard. I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so funny. But they all came, and I was very happy about that.

Everything was ahead of plan, but I didn’t sell more than I expected. It worked as I hoped, but I thought that with the amount of press I would have sold more. It takes a while before things kick in. The smallest article two years later was much more effective than this amazing launch that we had that friends and families were impressed by. That was really interesting. And it made me understand that you can’t rush things. You have to show who you are first. So, things went better than planned as far as communication is concerned. And as planned, as far as sales are concerned.

Our opening in America at Barneys was delayed due to 9/11. We opened in the springtime rather than before Christmas. It wasn’t wow within five minutes, but it was wow within six months. We became kings of the floor.

What was the first bestseller?

Musc Ravageur.  What’s interesting with Musc Ravageur, which is a bit like the story of Cool Water, is that it was exactly opposite of the prevailing trend. In those days, Dior J’Adore was It. We were just finishing with the L’eau d’Issey type of trend. Transparent florals were all over the market. And this uncompromising non-floral amber oriental seemed very classic to me, although generous and opulent and incredible, completely against trend. But sex appeal is always there. It’s not because you have a wave of purity that people stop having sex and stop wanting to seduce—and surely enough, it became a very well shared secret on the Left Bank. Men and women alike came to wear Musc Ravageur. It gave us this modern Guerlain type of image right away in France, sexy but quality perfume, which is what the respectable French person is after. That did a lot for us.

Were there fragrances that surprised you because they were best sellers or because they were not?

Yes. La Parfum de Therese. It has always been seen by people in our industry to be a masterpiece. Someone like Pierre Bourdon will tell you it’s a great perfume of the century. Roudnitska’s wife gave it to me. It’s one of my prides in this collection. I thought, it’s going to make millions for us.  But in fact it was probably too sophisticated to become our best seller. You learn when you do these things.

I also sold Musc Ravageur mostly as a feminine perfume in the beginning, because being heterosexual I sort of projected that I’d love to be with a girl that smells like this. Then all of the sudden I saw hordes of men wearing it, and I thought to myself how stupid I am. I didn’t see that.

It’s interesting that the consumer can teach you these things.

Yes and it did a lot for the way we sell. I have always told sales people not to have preconceived ideas and to follow the customers instinctually. They should use those perfumes like a palette of different colors that would suit the people that they have in front of them. Don’t think this is for men and  this for women, just give them what they feel comfortable with. We’re not there to tell people how to seduce, but to help them, with the instruments we have created. The perfumes are almost like weapons of seduction.

What guided your selection of which perfumes got the beautiful limited-edition treatment by Patrick Li?

Sales is one element, but I also wanted diversity because I think one of the beauties of our collection is how eclectic it is.. From an En Passant to a Musc Ravagaur to a Portrait of a Lady, you have extremely different perfumes.. What this collection expresses what we have done in the sense that I have never tried to impose my style. I have a few principles, but it’s not a style. Just as when I go to the Met, I like Van Eyck as much as I like Pollak or Rembrandt or Mondrian, I don’t have a preset idea about what type of perfume we should publish, just as long as they are very good and best in class.

In doing this, we have made those very, very specific perfumes. And sometimes as if, in sports terms you hit a home run; in a more spiritual way, you’ve been touched by grace. And all of a sudden there’s a little miracle that’s happening where one of those very specific perfumes touches a much wider audience than it should. We have been blessed by that a few times. And these are the perfumes that are the most successful. Musc Ravageur was certainly that. Portrait of a Lady was a perfume that I thought might be too difficult because it’s so sophisticated. And I wasn’t sure how well it would do, but I had to publish it because it was so beautiful. But it touched a wider audience than I ever imagined.

Something that I’m super proud of is that they have stood the test of time. Musc Ravageur is 20 years old, but I wore it today and it hasn’t aged a minute. There’s a reason for that: none of these have made the little compromises of adding materials that make them a little bit easier, because there are raw materials everyone uses at a certain time which is a sure way to make something that becomes dated quite quickly. The collection is a way of saying that we have really managed to make things that are timeless, diverse, and have touched a wide audience.

What was your approach to the book?

It was fun. I always wanted this book to be like a scrapbook and to be walking down the memory lane. I’m not a nostalgic person, but for once, I was ready to look back and sort of have a look at what I had done in the past 20 years. And as if I were doing a book to leave to my children literally. That was really what I had in mind.

What do you think might surprise people and what might they learn about you or that they wouldn’t have known?

I don’t know, to be honest. What I was surprised by when I saw all of this myself was how much we had done in 20 years. I never congratulate myself, but when I opened the book, I must say I was impressed. I thought, this is a lot. So many adventures.

So, I don’t know what will surprise people. I suppose at a moment where everybody is so specialized, especially in those big perfume companies, the fact that I’m seeing this job as a whole, like being good like a conductor who knows how to play each instrument, might be surprising. To be good, you have to know about glass making, know about printing, know how to design, know how to do accounting, know about distribution.

Given this time to look back and see what you’ve done, what do you feel most proud of?

It’s always perfumers. What I’m most proud of is the beginning of our conversation, the fact that they all followed me. And this is also what committed me to taking this huge risk of putting everything I had into this adventure, regardless of the fact that I already had three children and that if I had to talk to people, they would have said that I was crazy. What I’m also proud of in retrospect is the example that we set for the industry, including the fact that perfumers are now considered true authors. I have participated in creating what perfumery looks like in its present form. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I’m proud of that.

MASTER PERFUMER: CARLOS BENAÏM

MASTER PERFUMER: CARLOS BENAÏM
Scents and Sensibility

MASTER PERFUMER: CARLOS BENAÏM

MASTER PERFUMER: CARLOS BENAÏM

November 2020

IFF Master Perfumer Carlos Benaïm is a true legend. Hailed by Frédéric Malle as the greatest American perfumer, he is the creator of a slew of instantly recognizable blockbusters, including Polo Green, Polo Blue, Calvin Klein Eternity for Men, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds, Viktor & Rolf Flower Bomb, and YSL Libre. He is also one of Malle’s most prolific collaborators. As much to his surprise as to everyone else’s, his work with Malle began not with the invitation to create a bottled fragrance, but rather a collection of candles—the first wax-and-wick line-up, it would transpire, in the Editions de Frédéric Malle repertoire. Though Benaïm’s considerable expertise was in fine fragrance, not home scent, he took up the challenge—and the world’s rooms have been unforgettably transformed by the beauty of his creations. Here, the Morocco-born perfumer, who in 2014 received The Fragrance Foundation Perfumer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award,  talks to Accords about his journey with Frédéric Malle on the occasion of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle’s 20th birthday.

What originally made you want to become a perfumer?

My father was a pharmacist and a botanist. He was very interested in going through the mountains and the fields in Morocco and looking for plants that he could distill for pharmaceutical purposes. With him, I was able to see how distillation works—how you get the essences of plants—and that whole process brought me to perfumery from the ground up, not from being from a family of perfumers.

To be a perfumer was not in my radar. It was only something that I became interested in after the first year of engineering school, when I needed to do an internship. I was sent to Grasse through one of my father’s contacts where he used to sell his raw materials, and when I arrived, the chemist that I was supposed to work with had gone sailing and didn’t come back until the day before I left. Nobody knew what to do with me, so they just put me in a room with all the raw materials, naturals and synthetics, each one in those old-fashioned brown bottles with handwritten labels. I spent a month smelling. And through that I developed so much curiosity about the field of perfumery that I eventually took the plunge.

How did that unconventional beginning, and your studies in chemical engineering, affect your path as a perfumer?

It doesn’t hurt to have a chemistry background to understand the ingredients like chemists do, but fine perfumery is more of an artistic creation. When I basically abandoned chemistry at age 22 to go into an artistic career, it was a big step because it’s a completely different discipline, and it takes five to 10 years to know whether you’ll make something out of it.

I learned, not from a school, because I didn’t have any opportunities like that at that time, but more like the old masters used to teach their apprentices. I was invited to work in New York with Ernest Shiftan, who was the Chief Perfumer of IFF and had just retired to open a perfumery school. But it was not a classic perfumery school. It was more, “You learn by doing it next to me.” After that, I went to Paris for two or three years to continue because I had to get my visa. During that time, I worked with Max Gavarry, who was a Chief Perfumer in Paris, and we did a lot of the classical way of learning, which is to study all the classics in perfumery, just by smelling. I couldn’t wait to get to do real work in perfumery, but that only came when I arrived back in New York, and I started working with Bernard Chant, who was the Chief Perfumer then. I worked with him for 15 years as his right hand, and I just learned as I went along.

How did you first meet Frédéric?

I met Frédéric when he came to me to ask me to create a whole line of candles for the home for him. I had never done candles. I was very frank with him. I said, “Listen, you’re asking me to do something I’ve never done in my life. Are you sure you want to do this?” He insisted. He said, “No, this is an opportunity to put your imagination to work. You’ll have no constraints of price. Just try to do something beautiful.”

When you start working with him, it just becomes long conversations about everything and anything, while you are doing experimentation. By the time the lab is weighing what you’ve done, you talk architecture, you talk artistry, you talk France, you talk family, you talk anything. It was the beginning of a friendship that lasts today.

What was your process in creating the first collection?

I worked on them one at a time but they were introduced together—Jurassic Flower, Rosa Rugosa, Casablanca Lily… I wanted to bring a novel approach to this whole development. Frédéric and I both really admired one of the heads of research of IFF, an Indian man, Dr. Braja Mookherjee, who had been a brilliant, very religious man, who invented the Living Flower technology. So, I thought, why not take that headspace technology and develop candles based on the smell of those flowers in their natural environment.

How different was it for you to work on candles instead of perfume?

It’s very different in the sense that what counts is how the essential oils and the ingredients burn, not how much they smell when they are just freshly incorporated in the candle. And that is all technology that was really not my specialty. You want to create the feeling in the air of that flower when it burns without smelling the smoke. That was a challenge, and with enough experimentation we were able to do it.

Was there ever any discussion about making any of those into fragrances?

Yes, some did become fragrances. Eau de Magnolia came from Jurassic Flower. Jurassic Flower was such a success in the stores that the idea came naturally. But one thing is to have the smell of a flower, and another thing is to make a perfume that people can put on skin, that wears well, that has a beginning and an end and a beautiful sensual feeling. It’s one or two years of work before it becomes a real fragrance.

Another example was the candle calleafé Society. That started as a very sensual accord that I had made with patchouli and lavender. It was in my drawer and I had not shown it to people, but I showed it to Frédéric, and we made a candle out of it. A few years later, Frédéric suggested we go back and make it into a fragrance. That became Music for A While. In order to be a fragrance, it needed to be softened and surrounded by notes to make it prettier and sweeter, all those little things that you need to do to make a note that has a lot of character into something that people can wear more easily.

What do you think that Frédéric has done for perfumers and for the way that people perceive perfume?

The most important one is putting the name of the perfumer on the bottle because, previously, perfumers were ignored. They didn’t exist, basically. They were like ghost writers. What existed was the brand or the designer, but who were the creators? Nobody knew.

Frédéric broke the rules and started putting the name on the bottle and all of a sudden, the perfumer was celebrated. They were recognized, they had faces. The press fell in love with them. Everybody wanted to know who they were. And for the perfumer, that has been like a liberation. What Frédéric did was revolutionary and a big gift to the perfumers.

The second thing that he did that was very important was to bring back perfumery to the level of quality it had 50 years ago. He said, “You can create without any price constraint,” meaning use whatever ingredients you want. You could use sandalwood from India, you could use the best roses from Turkey or Morocco, anything. The main thing is that you be creative. That approach puts the perfumer front and center because the perfumer becomes very responsible. If your name is there, it’s your creativity that is at stake and your reputation. That was smart. And for the perfumers and the industry, it was a great advance.

You and Frédéric are aligned in your belief that ingredients shouldn’t be the main way that fragrances are presented. Can you explain?

The ingredient story was something people thought would impress the consumer. Somebody came up with the idea, “Oh, you have to give three top notes, three middle notes, three back notes,” but that’s not what a fragrance is. A fragrance is the intention of the perfumer. As with any art. What did the artist want to accomplish? Whether he used blue or yellow or green, it’s fine, but that’s not the point. The point is, what emotion did you want to get out of it? Is there any special theme that you have for your composition? Could be one thing, could be three things. It doesn’t need to be an ingredient. It could be the smell of autumn, and that’s it. I don’t need to tell you that I used the smell of a burned leaf. To me, that’s irrelevant.  The ingredients by themselves don’t paint the picture, the artist does. 

PERFUMERS’ Q&A: DOMINIQUE ROPION & MAURICE ROUCEL

What The Nose Knows

PERFUMERS’ Q&A: DOMINIQUE ROPION & MAURICE ROUCEL

November 2020

DOMINIQUE ROPION, Master Perfumer, IFF

How is your creative process when working with Frédéric unique? 

One of the unique aspects of the collaboration with Frédéric is the luxury of time. There is no deadline. We consider the creation process complete, once it’s complete. There is no rush to launch, and until we’re both satisfied we’ve reached our goal, we keep modifying… and we’re both demanding enough that thousands of trials are necessary. There is also the luxury of knowing each other, and having worked together, for over 35 years. Frédéric is a genuine aesthete, and the history we have of working together is quite unique. 

What has working with Frédéric brought to your life and career? 

A career is made of every single one of our experiences, all the perfumes created. Of course, Frédéric is a major milestone, but I really consider each new development as a new milestone.

 Of your many iconic creations for Editions de Parfums, which is your favorite or which are you proudest of?

 It’s impossible to answer that question. I love each and every one of them, there isn’t one I would disown! Each allowed me to reach the absolute end of each creative exercise. Of course, some are more successful than others, but this is not a criteria of likeability or even pride for me! 

MAURICE ROUCEL, Master Perfumer, Symrise

How is your creative process when working with Frédéric unique?

The most unique thing about working with Frédéric is his allowance of total freedom of expression, which I really appreciate.  The partnership is also unique.  Working with him is like playing a game of tennis; you can’t do it alone.  It’s a true collaboration in which he always provides very precise and impactful feedback that is precious to the creative process.  

How do you describe your style as a perfumer? 

To me, a raw material is for perfumery what a note is for music or a color is for painting.  If I were to describe my perfumery style in terms of painting, I would say it is similar to fauvism; an expression of my impression of the things that inspire me, using bold colors and wild brushstrokes.  It doesn’t have to be so literal.


How has Editions de Parfums changed the way that perfumers are perceived, and the way people understand perfumery, over the past 20 years?

Frédéric was a visionary in his way of working with perfumers and the first to really highlight them all the way through to the bottle.  He also developed unique and novel ways of explaining and experiencing perfumery, including the signature smelling columns that he has in all of his boutiques.  He is an expert in the field and has established a perfect blend between technical proficiency, poetry and philosophy. For two decades, he has remained true to this vision, focusing on the juice rather than the packaging and marketing of the scent.

THE CREATIVES WEBINAR SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE CREATIVES WEBINAR SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY
The Inside Scoop

THE CREATIVES WEBINAR SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE CREATIVES WEBINAR SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

November 2020

It was my great honor to moderate the first virtual Creatives event on November 20th for an audience of more than 1200 viewers. All of us gained insights into the creative process & the special bond between Frédéric Malle, Perfumer Publisher & Carlos Benaïm, Master Perfumer, IFF.

This event was, as we all say during this global pandemic, a big “pivot” from the original 2020 plans. When the perfume publishing house held its September Perfume Summit in Paris, Carlos was not able to participate in person. So I was inspired to define TFF Creatives as a celebration of Frédéric’s 20th anniversary of his brand with him in New York City & his star USA Perfumer Carlos. Up until a few weeks prior to the event, our plan was for the three of us to have a discussion in person at the brand’s Madison Avenue boutique. Once again a plan had to be adjusted as we could not meet in person. I must admit we were all disappointed to not be physically together, but the virtual event was possibly even more meaningful, as we appreciated getting together after months of separation. The kinship between Frédéric & Carlos, based on their friendship & creativity together, is so in sync, the discussion was truly inspiring. Our locations may have been separated by miles, but the warmth was palpable & for me it was so smooth a conversation that it flowed naturally. I was merely leading a conversation that was part of an ongoing exchange spanning decades.

This edition of Accords contains several subjects highlighted during the event in more depth, as well as additional content. As April Long, our editor, spoke with Frédéric & Carlos separately, they had even more to share that is unique to each of them. Also we were delighted to include a few other star perfumers of the Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle brand: Dominique Ropion & Maurice Roucel to add their insights as the 20th anniversary celebration continues.

Our last topic was how fragrance is integrated into our current  lifestyles & its overall future.  Frédéric and Carlos shared respectively an increased presence of fragrance as soothing, comforting and transportive plus  a redefined and expanding ingredient palette used in new perfumes. All of this will be revealed by young talented perfumers, leaving us with much to look forward to indeed!

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Oct

THE STORYTELLER: TERI JOHNSON

THE STORYTELLER: TERI JOHNSON
Spotlight

THE STORYTELLER: TERI JOHNSON

THE STORYTELLER: TERI JOHNSON

October 2020

Teri Johnson is a natural storyteller. In her former work as a content creator in the travel space, she wove tales of far-flung locales and the allure of experiencing the world at large. But it was closer to home—in founding Harlem Candle Company—that her stories truly came into their own. Inspired by the energy and atmosphere of the Harlem Renaissance, the brand’s first collection featured meticulously researched and wildly evocative scents that paid homage to such figures as James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Duke Ellington. Housed in luxurious glass keepsake vessels, the candles conjure the elegance and sophistication of days past, but with a truly modern sensibility. Here, Johnson reveals her vision for the expanding brand, and why officially joining the fragrance community is a dream come true.

How did you start making candles?

I have always loved beautiful fragrances. The very first time I smelled a Diptyque candle many years ago, I was so moved by the fragrance that I bought it and candles became my affordable luxury. No one at my age at that time was spending $60 on a candle, but that was where I would much rather spend my money than on a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or a designer handbag. For me, it was candles because it’s about the constant, feel-good effect of fragrance. It’s long lasting and it’s beautiful and it makes me happy.

It really started there, just understanding what luxurious fragrances can do to you and do to your mood. Then I happened to meet a chemist, maybe about seven years ago, who had created fragrance oils for different candle companies and had worked for different perfumers. He gave me some fragrance oils and I used them to make candles for friends and family for Christmas. I had so much fun figuring out what I was going to call each candle and how I was going to package each candle and who was going to get what, based on the things I thought they would like the most. At the time it was not the Harlem Candle Company because it wasn’t a company. I called it La Maison Des Bougies de Teri, Teri’s House of Candles, and I put them in little craft boxes with some stickers that I printed on my printer. It was cute. People really, really loved it and they saw the thought I put into it. They all told me: You should do this.

Were you surprised to find that you had a nose for scents?

For a lot of my friends and family, I’m the one who chooses their perfume. I will choose it for them because I know what mixes best with their body chemistry and I’ve always gotten such great feedback. I had a friend who had worn the same perfume since college but I knew it wasn’t right for her, so once when we were shopping I had her try on several perfumes on different parts of her arms just to see what she might like. There was one that was beautiful on her so I convinced her to buy it, and she came back to me and said, ‘Teri, you changed my life. I’ve never gotten so many compliments on how good I smell.’ I was like, “Yeah, I think I’m kind of good at this.” If I had more time I would love to do that on the side.

What brought you to connecting the inspiration of the Harlem Renaissance with candles?

Once I started making candles beyond just giving them to friends and family, I started selling at local pop-ups here in Harlem, and I decided to change the name to Harlem Candle Company. I realized then that I couldn’t just make lavender and vanilla candles. If I was using the name Harlem, it had to be of significance. I’ve always loved the Harlem Renaissance period—the art and the literature and the music and even how people carried themselves. Everything about it. I felt like this would be the best way to pay homage to all the greats who have come before us, like Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington. It was also just a great way for me to deepen my knowledge about these people and to help share pieces of history through fragrance. I felt like this is a really cool way to just kind of preserve the legacy of Harlem and what made Harlem so special back in the 20’s and the 30’s and to do it through a fragrance. I wanted it to be really elegant and I wanted it to personify these people in some way.

How do you go about creating the scents?

I do a lot of research to understand my subject. Who was Langston Hughes? What did he love? What inspired him? How did he work? Did he smoke? So, we put tobacco notes in there and we learned that he spent a lot of time in Mexico. His father actually relocated to Mexico, and he went with him and would spend time in these really small churches in Mexico that were candlelit and dusky with incense burning. And while his friends were playing soccer, he didn’t want to play soccer, so he’d just go into the churches and just hang out there. So we put incense in the candle. He also did much of his work really late at night, so I wanted that sort of after dark scent,  like Harlem nights. There’s some leather and some smokiness and just something that’s just sexy. I communicate all of those things to the perfumers that I work with and they’re so fun. They just run with it, they’re amazing. They do their own research on top of mine, and they know even the notes that were in the sweet tobacco during that time period. Their level of knowledge is so awesome.

It’s fun to see people’s reactions when they smell the Duke Ellington and they’re like, “Something about this reminds me of my grandfather.” We wanted to ask, how did men scent themselves? What was that classic gentleman walking in Harlem wearing? Was it this kind of bay leaf? We look at what  fragrance notes were prominent during that time, and then we make it fun and sexy and exciting for today.

How did your work in travel and design enhance what you do now?

I was producing, hosting, and creating video content and content for different brands, different tourism boards, car companies, and hotel chains. Inspiring people to travel to cool destinations. I don’t think I would have had so much appreciation for the smell of a destination, especially a place that I love because sometimes you might smell a flower or smell something, and it takes you back to that place. I do like to travel with all of my senses wide open. I started traveling at such a young age and I’ve lived abroad a few times, so traveling and just being in other places and experiencing different cultures has always been a really big part of my life. I love everything that comes with it, from the different foods and the way the language sounds to the smells and spices of the food.

The vessels themselves are very beautiful. Why was that such an important attribute for the candles to have?

I wanted to create something that was timeless. Something that you can see now, and you can see in 20 years when it still has this elegance. I was very thoughtful when it came to the logo. If you look in the H, in the logo, it looks like it’s a flame, but it’s also a person. You can see the head in the middle and the person has their arms up almost like in prayer and almost like in a yoga position. It represents unity, community and love. I feel like no matter where we go in the world, those are things that are important to everyone. And  I am very inspired by the Art Deco period. You can see it in the gold braiding and that rich sort of deep gold. I just wanted it to be elegant, and I wanted it to really represent the people that I’m celebrating.

What have been the biggest challenges you faced as an indie brand?

The biggest challenge is being self-funded. You can only grow so fast and you’re just reinvesting the money back into the business constantly. You want to grow so much faster, but you must be really thoughtful and careful. And then of course, production. Everything started out getting made in my kitchen and then we outgrew that. So, finding the right manufacturing partners who are able to understand and who are ready to grow with us was a challenge.

How has social media helped you grow?

The look of our social media reflects the brand ethos, and it has consistency.  People look at it and they can  get the brand right away.  I think those are extremely important things, but I think people also like to know that you are active on social media. Before they buy from us they like to see that we’re active, we’re posting, we’re doing Instagram Lives. That gives people a little bit more comfort when they are purchasing from a new company, because we’ve been doing these Facebook and Instagram ads, reaching people who might have never heard of the Harlem Candle Company before.

It’s been fun. I don’t feel like we’re ever going to run out of content because it’s not just candles, it’s candles, it’s history, it’s celebrating different people and it’s also interior design, I love that, because our candles complement so many spaces. I think because the brand is about storytelling and that we really do love beautiful spaces and design, it makes doing social media a lot of fun.

How does it feel to be a new member of the Fragrance Foundation?

It’s exciting. I feel like, “Ooh, I’m official.” When I was 18, I was a freshman in college and I was in this development class and one of the requirements they had for us was write out a hundred things you want to accomplish in life. And of course at 18 you think okay, this is the stupidest exercise ever, but I’m just going to do it just to show I did it, but once you’ve gotten to like 20, you’re like, “What? Now I’m just making stuff up.” So I’m just making things up. But you realize that the exercise is actually really quite good because it’s stuff that subconsciously you might not have ever really given thought to. It’s things that have just been in the back of your mind. And one of those things I wrote down was, I’d like to have my own perfume. I’ve always wanted to be in the fragrance industry. I just had no idea how I was ever going to get there. And I never made any conscious steps to do it. The things have all presented themselves when the time was right. It’s really fun to say, ‘Now I’m part of the Fragrance Foundation.’ But it’s not a surprise at all to people who’ve known me for a long time.

@harlemcandlecompany

THE DYNAMIC DUO: MATTHEW HERMAN & DAVID KIEN

THE DYNAMIC DUO: MATTHEW HERMAN & DAVID KIEN David Kien, Matthew Herman
Scents and Sensibility

THE DYNAMIC DUO: MATTHEW HERMAN & DAVID KIEN

THE DYNAMIC DUO: MATTHEW HERMAN & DAVID KIEN David Kien, Matthew Herman

October 2020

How do you create a super-cool, millennial-friendly candle? In the case of Matthew Herman and David Kien of Boy Smells, it was simply by following their noses. The business and life partners were disillusioned with the way they saw scents being gendered, and—through kitchen-sink experimentation, hard work, and laser-focus vision—they set out to build a company that would appeal to, and embrace, everyone. With colorful vessels that pop on Instagram, out-of-the-box aromas such as Rhubarb Smoke and Cashmere Kush, and a witty, engaging approach to social media, Boy Smells quickly made good on that initial premise, and, since 2016, the brand has grown exponentially, embarking on high-profile celebrity collaborations and even introducing an “Unmentionables” underwear line (with more exciting news to be revealed in the coming weeks). As the brand meets another goal post in joining the Fragrance Foundation, Herman discusses the secrets to Boy Smells’ success.

What was the original spark, for you and David, behind Boy Smells?

David, my real-life and business partner, and I created Boy Smells in 2016 as an experiment in our home in Los Angeles. At that time, we were both drawn to fragrances that were more traditionally labelled as feminine, and also noticed that many of our girlfriends were drawn to more masculine notes. So we wanted to approach scent in a way that broke the traditional gender norms. As we moved in this direction, the “genderless” caption to beauty and wellness products didn’t resonate with us in the way we saw ourselves. Coming from previous careers in the fashion industry and also engaged in LGBTQ+ activism, we were seeing trends across industries move in the gender defying direction, but felt that there could be a better way the fashion and beauty industries should approach it. In 2016, we ditched our day jobs in pursuit of our passion: Boy Smells, a company that speaks directly to expanding gender identity in fragrance, adopting the term GENDERFUL. Genderful is a celebration of all different ways people identify gender identity and expression, recognizing that neither is static. 

What was the idea behind the name and how is that reflected in how you wanted to position yourselves and your messaging?

The name Boy Smells came to us as the perfect juxtaposition to our signature pink packaging, purposefully poking fun at gendering. It teases that what you’d find inside will defy norms and challenge the usual binary trenches often associated with scent.  

As gateways to gender expanding olfactive moments, we blend the traditionally “masculine” and “feminine” to capture the complexities that come with modern identity. The implication is to harness your power from wherever you find it. Something as simple as a candle has the potential to reflect the quickly evolving and a drastic reimagining of identity that is underway in society; and we saw an opportunity to contribute to the social discourse around gender by creating Boy Smells. 

How did you first go about getting the candles into the marketplace?

We showed the collection to our families, real and chosen, and sent samples to our friends in the fashion industry. In our first year we were in some of the best directional boutiques. From there it happened quite organically.

Your social media is how many of us found (and fell in love with) Boy Smells. How would you describe the aesthetic? What was on your mood board when you envisioned it?  

The success of our brand on social media was a complete surprise to us, and not something we master-minded. I hope, though, that it speaks to the spirit of our brand: fun, provocative, and progressive; something that resonates with today’s consumers.

While our pink label became more iconic than we could have ever imagined, we love seeing it in homes all over the world, dressing vanities, coffee tables, bedside tables, what have you. It’s always a thrill to see our customers posting about us on their social channels, just as they’d post an outfit, beauty routine, or a new piece of furniture.

What has social media, and the connection it fosters, brought to the brand?

It has helped us connect and build community. And, we now view it as an essential part of the brand. Social media has been hugely impactful in communicating our purpose-driven messaging, and we love that our brand can stand for more than just expecting a good fragrance. It is an intimate relationship we get to develop with our customers.

What was the process in creating the early fragrances?

Our very first scent, Kush, a cannabis-inspired scent, continues to be our #1 selling candle. Its long-term success took us from indie newcomers to an established brand with a known hit product.  We mixed all of our original fragrances at home and have since reworked them to be clean formulations with more refined olfactive balance.

How do you go about working with perfumers?

We work with fragrance houses Robertet and Firmenich, and each relationship is unique. We usually start with a brief. I like to use visual briefs of photography, graphic design, architecture, furniture, sculpture, wherever conveys the emotion we want the scent to occupy. We also start with a laundry list of fragrance notes we’d like to explore. I like to think of it as a conversation and collaboration.

What do collaborations – such as Slow Burn – mean to the brand?

We have been so excited to introduce two noteworthy collaborations thus far in 2020, the first of which being with Kacey Musgraves. Upon its debut in early February, the spiced and smokey Slow Burn candle sold out in less than 24 hours and generated an eager waitlist of over 15,000 people. The Slow Burn candle was the first ever musical artist collaboration for the Boy Smells brand as well as Kacey’s first major brand collaboration, bringing her creativity and great tastes to the complex world of fragrance. Our launch event at PUBLIC in NYC created a huge media moment that opened us up to an entirely new audience and the collaboration has sold out multiple times since. 

Another keystone moment was the launch of the PRIDE Collection this June, benefitting The Trevor Project. We partnered with 6 unique luminaries to ignite a campaign spanning diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, and industries who are breaking down boundaries towards universal acceptance for the LGBT community.  Each of the six ambassadors––including fashion model Richie Shazam, R&B rising star Rileyy Lanez, drag superstar Naomi Smalls, dancer Harper Watters, musical artist VINCINT and actor & musician Alex Newell, –– embodied their own hyper-hued candle from the limited collection to open the conversation about embracing one’s full spectrum identity. 

Why did you decide to also introduce underwear?

We view candles and underwear as objects you intimately relate to, integral to one’s personal care routine and identity. The objects we hold closest to us, candles, fragrance, underwear, should reflect our most authentic selves, before we put on our uniforms for the roles we play in the world. We always knew our next step after candles would be underwear, due to the fact that it’s perhaps the most gendered item out there. The way we label our underwear allows for the purchaser to decide how they relate to the product, we don’t dictate that. It’s effortless and uncomplicated, no shame in our Unmentionables collection. Everyone participates in their own way.

With underwear, perhaps more than any other category, binary ideas of gender are used in marketing to consumers  In our newly relaunched Unmentionables collection, each style and color is available with either a “Pouch Front” or “Flat Front,” shifting the conversation away from gender labels to the right fit and end usage for the customer. No matter how you define yourself, Unmentionables is here to support your comfort and confidence. 

What challenges have you faced as an independent brand?

At the onset of the pandemic as stores began to close, we found ourselves with close to 100% off our wholesale orders canceled. On top of that, our supply chain quickly came to a screeching halt with components coming from both Northern Italy and China. The early success we had experienced since the start of the year, along with our Q2 sales projections, seemed like they would no longer be a reality. We knew it was time to go back to basics and connect with our customer through a DTC-focused model. 

We have an amazing team, and we all learned how to pivot quickly and adapt our sales model to fit the current economic landscape. DTC took off significantly, hovering at about 1200% above last year!

What does it mean to you to officially join the fragrance community with the Fragrance Foundation? 

We couldn’t be more excited to become a part of this community. Despite not starting our careers in the fragrance industry, we have been so welcomed by all of our partners and TFF.

What is your vision for the future of Boy Smells? 

As we grow, we will continue to activate this conversation around identity expression with everyday products used to reaffirm and feel good. Our goal is to turn all of our daily routines into rituals of self-realization. There are exciting plans in the works for new product categories, with scents that go beyond anything we’ve ever done before.

@boy__smells

THE THOROUGHBRED: BRIANNA LIPOVSKY

THE THOROUGHBRED: BRIANNA LIPOVSKY Photograph by Dora Somosi ©
What The Nose Knows

THE THOROUGHBRED: BRIANNA LIPOVSKY

THE THOROUGHBRED: BRIANNA LIPOVSKY Photograph by Dora Somosi ©

October 2020

Brianna Lipovsky started Maison d’Etto with a very unusual concept: She wanted to create scents inspired by horses. While this may at first sound hyper-specific, her vision is anything but: Maison d’Etto’s unique and evocative fragrances are olfactive snapshots of time and place that open up worlds to those who smell them. Lipovsky sees fragrance as a vehicle for making connections—bringing people closer to themselves, to others, and to nature—while the overarching Maison d’Etto mission is to bring more moments of beauty (and beautiful objects) into our everyday lives. Since launching last year, the luxurious, gender-neutral collection has become a favorite among the fashionably in-the-know, and it continues to win hearts apace. “We are in the stage where we can take risks, use insanely expensive ingredients and roll the dice,” says Lipovsky. Here, she shares with Accords what guides her aesthetic, and what we can expect from Maison d’Etto going forward.  

You began with scent memories from your life’s equestrian experiences—why were those so meaningful to you, and how did that lead you to creating Maison d’Etto?

Horses have been a constant in my life from the age of five. I didn’t grow up in an equestrian family but the vast majority of my life outside of schooling and in my adult years, work was spent with or around horses, riding and competing. I sacrificed so much to have a “normal” city life and a horse life. Instead of going to the fashion shows, gallery openings or other social engagements, I spent most of my free time driving and/or flying to practice and compete. After having my daughter and seeing how brands were really fragmenting around psychographic niches vs just demographics I felt that it was my time to build and create something around my two passions – horses and scent – combined with my background in luxury, fashion and design. I have had close to 35 years of intimate experiences with these animals and so many amazing stories, experiences and personalities that I could deeply dive into creatively with authenticity and truth. It served as an incredible platform for me to create from but make something that was profound enough that it could really speak to anyone and serve as a metaphor. We don’t translate any of these scents directly. It’s not like we’re saying what horse X smelled like; we paint a picture based on a day or a few days, the horse’s personality, the setting, a special place or experience. 

I look at each individual fragrance as a piece of art and each collection as an exhibit. So the brand Maison d’Etto is about inspiring moments of connection, reflection, well-being and nurturing the human spirit one moment at a time. Our first collection, “Connection to Self,” is represented by 5 horses that had huge pivotal impacts on my life. Our next collection is titled, “Connection to Nature” and it will feature stories that took place on horseback but immersed in nature. The fragrance that will launch for holidays took place in the French Pyrenees on a very special palomino mare, who’s name I can’t share for another few weeks ;).

You had a very clear sense from the beginning not only about how you wanted the scents to smell but how you wanted them to look and fit into people’s environments. What inspired this vision?

Yes, we did not come at this from a traditional beauty or fragrance perspective at all. That was very important to me. We drew inspiration from art, architecture, and design as well as a unique interpretation of the contemporary equestrian lifestyle, which is extremely nomadic. I not only wanted to be known for our fragrances but our packaging and the entire Maison d’Etto experience. Knowing how transitional many of our clients are we wanted everything to be not only beautiful, an object of art in and of itself, but also practical, and portable. I worked with the insanely talented and world-renowned graphic and product designer Lotta Nieminen as well as space and interior designer Olivia Song to help ensure that our products are adding an aesthetic value to each client’s life space and home. 

The packaging is extremely considered. I wanted to create something sustainable and beautiful but not just for the sake of sustainability. So for example, we could create sustainable, recyclable but inevitably throw-away D2C packaging or we could create something with wonderful quality with a focus on materials that will last the test of time. Something that you want to hold onto and treasure, like an Hermes box. So our discovery set, after use, provides a beautiful design piece to place in a room or save jewelry, trinkets or crystals in. You will see with some of the other product categories that we start rolling out how we envision this evolving.

How do you believe that fragrance can help us connect with each other, ourselves, and to the world around us?

As we all know, scent is the only sense that we have as humans that goes straight into the limbic system and isn’t processed elsewhere in the brain. This guttural, reactionary nature I find to be deeply therapeutic. It almost brings you back to a childlike state. Many times, when I would get too in my head about things in the brand development stages, I would actually turn to my then 3-year-old daughter to ask what she thought because I know there would be no pretense, anxieties, judgement or overthinking. 

Additionally, after doing a lot of work myself dealing with anxiety in my late 20’s I learned how to apply behavioral and observational patterns to reduce the anxiety. The more I came into myself I was able to apply those same techniques to the world of mindfulness, consciousness and meditation that translated into awareness and appreciation in even the most mundane aspects of life.  I am so intrigued with the intersection of fragrance and science, the brain and the mind. 

The brand focuses on five key aspects of connection — the sacred pillars that help us to achieve a sense of balance and wholeness. These include: connection to self, connection to others, connection to nature, connection to the world, and finally, connection to finding one’s purpose. These aspects will be brought to life with more robust programming and community-based initiatives. 

What was the idea behind the name Maison d’Etto?

Etto is a combination of Ethics + Motto, created by writer, novelist and female polo player Courtney Maum. It represents the core truths and beliefs you carry with you despite where you are or what you are going through in life. It also stands for “Each To Their Own”. It is a brand that refuses to dictate values and beliefs to its wearer but rather empowers them to explore what Etto uniquely means to them. 

What is your process for working with perfumers, and what have you learned from them along the way?

Ha. It’s unconventional to say the least! 

Sometimes it can be a straightforward brief, but even then it’s just a springboard – there is always plenty of room for interpretation and space for each performer’s signature style to come through. Other times it’s a conversation, text (or even Instagram DM which drives the sales team crazy, sorry!) Other times, it’s cracking open a bottle of champagne on a Friday evening dissecting every single ingredient, nuance, and modification then doing a documentary photoshoot, which turns into a bunch of us rolling around on the ground of IFF laughing until our stomachs ache…Pre COVID, of course!

Perfumers are creatives. I really like to work with perfumers that connect with energy, passion, emotion, and can distill all of those things into an incredibly soulful fragrance. I have never had success with any type of creative person sitting behind a desk, so I like to get them out of the office if I can, and get them out of “work” mode. I like to be able to connect deeply with each perfumer, and let’s not forget the evaluator. I couldn’t do any of this without Alexandra Cassar, she’s my eyes, ears, voice, translator, and brand filter. We have a very deep and personal relationship, she at this point knows exactly how I’m going to react and respond. 

I have learned from perfumers to love and enjoy life and to surrender to the beauty and frustrations of life and perfumery. Sometimes it just works and other times you can’t force it, you have to just give it space, time and a lot of patience. The more you respect the fragrance the more it will give to you. Perfumers have also taught me that this is where I belong, and that is so cool. 

What achievement has been most gratifying for you since the brand’s launch?

Hands down the most gratifying achievement was the ‘Our Love Letter to You’ initiative that we did during the first wave of COVID in May when the tri-state was absolutely inundated with cases. I wanted to do something special for my friends who had all become doctors and were on the front lines. I had to do something as a member of society, founder and leader of a purpose-driven brand. 

We partnered with IFF and other like-minded brands (Costa Brazil, Diptyque, Royal Fern and natureofthings) to donate 500 care packages to healthcare workers. IFF discovered through fMRI technology that one of the ingredients used in the fragrance, which by the way was still a complete work in progress, was associated with activating parts of the brain involved in relaxation. Our purpose was to bring respite, hope and peace to healthcare workers through a new fragrance we were working on at the time.. It was a true moment of community, care, commitment, love and gratitude. 

What does joining the Fragrance Foundation mean to you, and what do you hope it will bring to Maison d’Etto?

As a complete outsider to the fragrance industry, joining The Fragrance Foundation means so much. Number one, it validates our existence by a trusted and respected industry authority. It provides community and a place for connection and collaboration. As a self-funded brand, being a part of TFF always seemed a bit out of reach given the capital requirements for membership. With the new inclusivity initiative, I am now able to participate, and have a seat at the table, but also give back with my unique skill set as well. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and I am so excited to be able to learn and strengthen our weaknesses and add tremendous value with many of our strengths to the collective membership and organization. When we all come together amazing things happen! @

@maisondetto

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

October 2020

At the September TFFAwards webinar, I announced our new important objective: to grow and expand our community to include diverse members. We have made great progress. We added new benefits for indie brands based on our resources. We have reached out and met new indies and discovered great new brands who align with our mission. They join us to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance. 

For a limited time, we are offering one-year memberships to indies whose overall USA brand footprint has considerable growth potential and to whom we can provide guidance. These entrepreneurs have progressed in their brand development and are now in the position to benefit as TFF members. In addition, we also reconnected with those brands that had contacted us in the last year who had not applied for membership due to constraints on either side.

In this edition of Accords, we feature extraordinary creators of fragrance brands, each with unique identities: Teri Johnson of Harlem Candle Company, Matthew Herman & David Kien of Boy Smells, and Brianna Lipovsky of Maison d’Etto. Each of their stories clearly indicate that they are on a trajectory to fragrance success. While we have met them in what appears to be the early chapters in their journeys, they all clearly are open to a future of growth at a time when there are many unknowns. But this we know for sure: their creativity, resourcefulness and first-class candles and fragrances make us proud to welcome them as new members into our fragrance community.

Starting today we will welcome these and other new indie brands, highlighting them all in our weekly newsletter Noteworthy and on our TFF Website. 2020 has brought us so many challenges, but this is proof positive that TFF is embracing the best we can be together, with diversity, equity and inclusion as our guide.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Sep

PERFUMER SPOTLIGHT: CELINE BAREL

PERFUMER SPOTLIGHT: CELINE BAREL
Spotlight

PERFUMER SPOTLIGHT: CELINE BAREL

PERFUMER SPOTLIGHT: CELINE BAREL

September 2020

Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year Winner – Zoologist Squid

Celine Barel, IFF

Celine Barel is a rarity: someone who grew up in Grasse, but had no family members in the fragrance industry. She initially went to business school to work on the brand side, but soon fell in love with the art of creation and went on to study at IFF, honing her olfactive talents and ultimately bringing her unconventional and spirited approach to fragrances for Diana Vreeland, Jo Malone London, Norell, Maison d’Etto, Lancôme and more. Barel is widely regarded as a rising superstar, and winning Perfume Extraordinaire for Zoologist Squid surely cements that reputation. Here, she shares the inspiration and ideas that went into the making of this special award-winning scent.  

What was the initial idea behind Zoologist Squid? 

There was no real corporate brief. All I got was this word: “squid.”  It actually meant a lot to me, as it opened a whole fantastical world without boundaries. I love how Zoologist’s animals are portrayed as true characters and have an olfactive identity. It talks to my Peter Pan side!

What were some of your inspirations while formulating it?

The animal portrait brought me to the Victorian age, one of my favorite historical periods; to the XIXth century, at the height of Romanticism. Immediately “Squid” made me think about Jules Verne’s A Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, with a frightening giant squid coming from the deepest part of the ocean. Those abysses are supposedly located in the Chinese sea, so I also thought about incorporating frankincense.

But the true starting point was serendipitous: when Victor and I started talking about creating Squid I just came back from a trip to Dubai. While swimming there, I injured my foot walking on a massive squid bone. I seized the bone, smelled it and fell in love with its smell: it had an intense solar saltiness, was pungent, sweet and grainy like tonka, and more raw than ambergris. I brought it back to IFF and we did a headspace analysis.  

How does the fragrance express your style as a perfumer? 

 Squid is telling a story. It takes you on a journey. It has a universe of its own, and is unexpected. It is NOT obvious nor common. It evokes totally what it is supposed to. I love to create this type of perfumery. 

What made Squid a unique experience for you personally?  

I truly loved collaborating with Victor, Zoologist’s founder, because of his unique vision, his great culture, the richness of his brand’s universe with each animal. The fact that when we thought we had a good olfactive idea, he encouraged me to overdo it! 

And now, what makes Squid’s creative experience even more unique is this TFF Perfume Extraordinaire Award, which means it has been appreciated by my peers and experts of the fragrance industry. It is a very very sweet award to receive. I am really grateful and deeply honored. 

And I am happy that a “small gem” like Zoologist is made visible among the industry’s giants thanks to TFF and this award. Self-funded brands don’t always have the financial means to shine in the glossy magazines so the role TFF is playing in supporting them is major.

What effect did you want the finished perfume to achieve for the wearer?

I wanted Squid to express at the same time a calm and stormy mind, going from a deep dark mood to a bright happy place. I imagined the wearer becoming a romantic hero! I totally imagine Louis II of Bavaria wearing it! 

INSIDE THE INSPIRATION: JEAN-CLAUDE ELLENA, CATHERINE SELIG & CHRISTIAN ASTUGUEVIEILLE

Scents and Sensibility

INSIDE THE INSPIRATION: JEAN-CLAUDE ELLENA, CATHERINE SELIG & CHRISTIAN ASTUGUEVIEILLE

September 2020

Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year – Finalists

For the keen eye (and especially the talented nose), inspiration is all around us. But what elements spark the creation of a true Perfume Extraordinaire? The 2020 Fragrance Awards Finalists—and Winner—in this category are all perfumes that excel at bringing to life the unique vision and inspiration of their inventors. And they could not be more different—these singular scents originated from ideas summoned by the smell of freshly cut grass (Copper eau de Parfum by Comme des Garçons, by perfumer Aliénor Massenet), a rose (Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Rose & Cuir, by Jean-Claude Ellena), a family legacy (A.N. Other F/W 2020, by Catherine Selig), and a mysterious sea creature (the winning scent—Zoologist Squid, by Celine Barel). Here, the perfumers and creators provide a glimpse into the compelling backstories behind these olfactive masterpieces.

Jean-Claude Ellena

Rose & Cuir, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle

What was the initial spark behind Rose & Cuir?

A new idea of writing roses. 

How did the collaboration process with Frédéric Malle shape the finished fragrance along the way?

In complicity, friendship and mutual respect. 

How does Rose & Cuir express your style as a perfumer?

Elegant juxtapositions. Elegant interplays.

What are some of the elements that make this fragrance so unique?

New interactions between raw materials. 

What did you want to achieve with Rose & Cuir that you had not yet accomplished in your career?

Let the story go on until my last summer.

Catherine Selig, Takasago

WF / 2020, A.N Other

What was the family backstory behind this A.N OTHER fragrance?

The creative journey of the fragrance WF / 2020 from A.N OTHER started in the 19th century.  My great grandfather Meinrad Hilfiger Maitre Gantier Perfumer created a signature patchouli fragrance formula.  His secret formula manuscript was handed to me by my father when I was a child and I gave this elegant 19th century formula a new life when I redeveloped it with exclusive quality ingredients, a modern twist, and a new vision.

What were some of your considerations while formulating it?

I was inspired by thoughts of timelessness, elegance, and the uniqueness of an unforgettable trail. I purposefully chose only the best quality ingredients such as Italian Bergamot, French rose, Ambrette Absolute and Patchouli Coeur, the purest exclusive quality of Patchouli from Takasago, to create its unique and unforgettable trail.

How does the fragrance express your style as a perfumer, as well as your lineage?

The creation of this fragrance came to me naturally, all the ingredients combined beautifully with each other in harmony allowing each of them to radiantly diffuse. Within its first trials, this fragrance already displayed its unique characteristics and personality. 

My creative signature in every fragrance I create is a combination of  radiance and luminosity which resonates with the soul. The foundation of this fragrance is based on my family legacy of creating fragrances with pure lines, beautiful ingredients, luxurious simplicity with a mystical travel through time.    

What effect did you want the finished perfume to achieve for the wearer?

I wanted this scent to be the essential olfactive finishing touch that radiates self-confidence and inner strength of those who wear it.

This fragrance, like the Kelly bag from Hermes, will dress its wearer up to the effortless style of timeless elegance.

What does being a finalist for Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year mean to you?

Being a finalist for Perfume Extraordinaire is indeed a great honor for me.  It acknowledges the timeless craftsmanship of my fragrance creation and gives me the opportunity to tell the story behind that fragrance creation to those who wear and appreciate fragrances.

Christian Astuguevieille, Creative Director

Copper Eau de Parfum, Comme des Garçons

Christian Astuguevieille, the creative director for Comme des Garçons’ fragrances, worked with perfumer Aliénor Massenet to conceive Copper Eau de Parfum.

What was the initial inspiration behind Copper Eau de Parfum?

 The initial inspiration behind Copper was the green scent of fresh cut grass.

Were there challenges in conveying the idea of a material such as copper through scent?

We tried to work on the specific Galbanum green and metallic amber.

How does the composition express the brand?

We expressed the brand’s universe through the choice of high quality raw materials, from galbanum, blackcurrant buds, myrrh and metallic amber. This green is like no other, and originality is what we aim for in our olfactory writing. 

What effect did you want the finished perfume to achieve for the wearer?

I would like the wearer to have the wonderful sensation of wearing a true green. The mythical notion of green in perfumery.

What makes you most proud of this scent?

 I am very proud of the green we created. Green represents audacity. We stand behind legendary greens but today it is not very common anymore, and that is what’s so exciting.

BEHIND THE SCENTS: INDIE WINNER & FINALISTS

What The Nose Knows

BEHIND THE SCENTS: INDIE WINNER & FINALISTS

September 2020

Indie Fragrance of the Year celebrates the creations of smaller, artisanal brands that have blazed innovative, wonderful-smelling, trails—often without a safety net. The scents honored in the 2020 Awards lineup each offer a compelling example of how to present a daring, memorable elixir that conveys personality, original thinking, and—of course—desirability. Here, the brains behind the brands grant insight into the independent spirit that brought the Fragrance Foundation’s 2020 Finalists and Winner to fruition.

Indie Fragrance of the Year Winner 

THOM BROWNE 09.27.65 VETYVER ABSOLUTE

Thom Browne – Founder & Head of Design

What was the starting point for this fragrance?

I wanted to create a timeless fragrance for men and women. This started with vetyver…

What were the most important sensory effects that you wanted Vetyver Absolute to achieve?

A sense for day into night…bold individuality, and confidence.

How does scent resonate with or reflect the brand as a whole?

It is truly signature and truly authentic to what I wanted in a scent. Like the grey suit, it is created for anyone who has the confidence to be themselves.

What does winning Indie Fragrance of the Year mean to you?

I have always loved fragrance, and these six scents are very personal to me. They took a long time to create and get them right. To be recognized for this is such an honor.

Indie Fragrance of the Year Finalist 

Notorious Oud by D.S. & Durga

David Seth Moltz – Founder & Perfumer

What was the initial spark or idea behind Notorious Oud?

I wanted to make an Oud that spoke to the Brooklyn melting pot. I copied a rare Indonesian oud in my little lab in Brooklyn and balanced it with choice materials from 4 continents.

What were the challenges in its creation?

Just how realistic to go with the stink of the real oud I copied.

What effect did you want it to have for the wearer that would make it utterly unique?

Stink boiled beautiful.

How did you land on the name Notorious Oud?

Oud is probably the most notorious ingredient in perfume. Everyone has an opinion about it and every oud perfume (is it real? is it rare?).  This doesn’t happen with jasmine or vetyver perfumes.

What pleases you most about the way it has been received?

It’s been well received by all kinds of people, which is promising.

Indie Fragrance of the Year Finalist

Eric Buterbaugh Los Angeles Oud Saffron

Eric Buterbaugh – Founder & Designer

What was the initial idea behind Oud Saffron? 

The ideas start with conversations. I wanted to expand on the great reception that my prior Oud scents had received. In talks with Ilias we discussed duality and contrast …  then came to the two iconic ingredients called the black gold and the red gold of a perfumer: “oud and saffron.”  I wanted this scent to feel the luxury of fine jewelry. As most of you know, I adore jewelry.

Were there any challenges in its creation? 

Creation is always a challenging equation.  Oud and Saffron was a departure from my floral universe, but had to meet my codes of Haute Perfumerie.

What unique quality did you want it to bring to the EB collection? 

Ilias and I wanted it to create a new sophistication through contrast, a surprise and an aesthetic inspired by gemstones.

Why was Ilias the perfect perfumer for this project?

Ilias and I have worked on many fragrances together. We have a unique way of trusting each other and a great respect for each other. He always keeps in mind the DNA of my brand. Also we love to laugh and dream. So any time spent with Ilias is happy for me.

What pleases you most about the finished scent and the way it has been received? 

First and foremost, the scent perfectly completes my Floral Ouds collection. The fact that it was nominated for the Fragrance Foundation award makes myself and Ilias happy and proud,  it is a real tribute to the vision of my brand.

TFFAWARDS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

TFFAWARDS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY
The Inside Scoop

TFFAWARDS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

TFFAWARDS SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

September 2020

This year’s 2020 TFFAwards celebration was a live webinar with over 2,000 attendees in our global audience. We joined together as a fragrance community with an exciting host and presenters who all shared their passion and personal perspectives of fragrance. There was great anticipation leading up to September 10th when we announced the winners of 25 categories for 2020 TFFAwards.

In this issue of Accords, we are featuring the finalists & winners in two categories that, like all other award categories, represent our TFF mission: to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance. They are Perfume Extraordinaire of the Year & Indie Fragrance of the Year, which are in limited USA distribution. One finalist in each category was not included here as timing and other constraints affected their participation.

These are very important awards that are judged by those with expertise specific to the categories, who have not created any of the entries. They judge independently and anonymously from each other. For Extraordinaire, the fragrances are presented “blind” and coded without any identification for confidentiality. Voting criteria focuses on the juices’ design, signature, creativity, and quality. For Indie, they are fully identified with packaging, marketing, and judged by other experts on creative factors of the juice quality, as well as presentation and packaging.

While I am frequently emphasizing the achievement of reaching TFFAwards Finalist status, you can all more clearly understand that significance as you hear from the perfumers and creators themselves in Accords today. Next, you definitely should experience the fragrances themselves on your own. I am proud, both personally & professionally, to bring you these extraordinary individuals’ stories whose inspirations are thoughtfully delivered to you by our fabulous Accords Editor, April Long.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Aug

THE ROLE MODEL: MAYE MUSK

THE ROLE MODEL: MAYE MUSK
Spotlight

THE ROLE MODEL: MAYE MUSK

THE ROLE MODEL: MAYE MUSK

August, 2020

On September 10th, the gorgeous, gracious Maye Musk will host the special 2020 TFF Awards Webinar. Has there ever been a more aptly named master of ceremonies for a scent celebration? Musk is a dynamic, inspirational personality with an extraordinary biography, from a childhood spent traveling South Africa with her parents in search of archaeological treasures to her wildly successful career as a model, culminating in her current role as age-defying CoverGirl ambassador. She is also a dietitian and author of the recent A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success. Almost incidentally, you might also know that she has 3 highly accomplished children, including a well-known son. As we prepare to celebrate together the achievements of the fragrance community, Musk shares some insight into her own relationship with the enthralling world of scent.

Having presented at last year’s TFF Awards, how does it feel to be this year’s special Webinar host, knowing that TFF was inspired by the positive message of A Woman Makes a Plan?

This was a huge surprise and an honor. I couldn’t believe that I would be given such a special hosting position. Attending TFF awards has always been a highlight for me in New York. Now I am so happy my positive messages in my book are inspiring women, and men. We need more positive messages.

What is your personal connection to fragrance?

From when I was a little girl, I used to play with my mom’s fragrances. She had many. I would clean the face powder off them after my Mom put on her makeup and put them in pretty patterns on her dresser. They were gorgeous bottles and they smelled so good. As a teenager I would wear perfume every day and spray my neck and wrists.  Now I line up all my fragrances and wear a different one every day.

In the 1970s, my children were teased and called MuskRat. Musk was not a nice surname. In the 80s, Musk became a popular name with fragrances. People asked if I changed my name to Maye Musk as I was a model. I told them I had to live with being called MuskRat for 9 years, and now it’s a great name.

You have lived and traveled all over the world. Are there certain fragrances or smells that conjure specific places or memories for you?

Funny enough, many cities and countrysides have different smells. We won’t talk about New York City. Haha! I enjoy reading about the origins of the ingredients in the fragrances, which come from different countries. I remember the scents of spices from India and the floral markets in The Netherlands, and so many other countries with memories.

What is your fragrance routine (ie, a different scent for day and night)? 

Every morning, before I walk my dog, I spray my neck and my wrists with a fragrance. If I’m going out at night, after my bath, I will change my fragrance. depending on what I feel like.

What guides your selection?

I pretty much change my perfume every day, depending on my plans for the day. It’s so much fun for me and brings me joy. We need more joy.

How does fragrance relate to the bigger picture of beauty and success? 

When you wear a fragrance, you feel good and it gives you more confidence.  This gives you a bounce in your step and will help you succeed in life.

THE ENVIRONMENTALIST: FRANCISCO COSTA

THE ENVIRONMENTALIST: FRANCISCO COSTA
Scents and Sensibility

THE ENVIRONMENTALIST: FRANCISCO COSTA

THE ENVIRONMENTALIST: FRANCISCO COSTA

August, 2020

Brazilian designer Francisco Costa has long been a force in fashion, having garnered accolades as creative director for Calvin Klein Womenswear for more than a decade. His newest project, however, is supremely personal: In 2019, he introduced Costa Brazil, a line of home fragrance and luxurious face and body oils using indigenous ingredients from the Amazonian rainforest. Costa Brazil is mindfully intentional and committed to proper stewardship of the environment—the ingredients are responsibly sourced, the packaging is recyclable, and the brand’s partnership with the non-profit Conservation International ensures sustainability. The products have drawn raves across the board, but it is their unique fragrance profile that has made them most recognizable and unforgettable. With Resina de Breu, a resin used by Amazonian tribes, Costa has introduced a novel experience to the home fragrance market. Once lit, the resin fills the surrounding space with an intoxicating aroma of soil, leaves, and wood—fulfilling Costa’s mission to remind us how interconnected we are to the earth. Here, Costa shares his inspiration with Accords

What has been your relationship with fragrance throughout your life?

Fragrance is everything, fragrance has the power to transport you. I remember taking walks in my childhood in the countryside near my town, the olfactive memory of my childhood is vivid. I also remember my sister’s lavender scent, an alfazema fragrant water she would put on after a shower.

How did you first encounter Breu, and what sparked the idea to introduce it as a home scent?

I discovered Breu during my time with the Yawanawa tribe in the region of Acre in Brazil. I noticed this incredible scent, I thought it was wood, but saw they were tossing Breu into the fire. It’s a wonderful home scent because of its healing and balancing properties; it stabilizes the ambiance in any space, and it is said to open up the 6th chakra.

Why was sustainability so crucial for you, and what have been the challenges and rewards of assuring environmental responsibility?

Beauty is inseparable from the health of the earth. This isn’t something we should be praised about, it’s something we need to consider every step of the way as our new normal. 

What feedback about Costa Brazil has made you happiest?

When people tell me they instantly recognize Costa Brazil through scent, without seeing it. 

As a newcomer to the US fragrance community, what would you say is the biggest difference between the fragrance world and the fashion world?

When fragrance walks into the room, it’s the last one to leave. There is more longevity. 

THE GLOBE TROTTERS: NACHO FIGUERAS & DELFINA BLAQUIER

THE GLOBE TROTTERS: NACHO FIGUERAS & DELFINA BLAQUIER
What The Nose Knows

THE GLOBE TROTTERS: NACHO FIGUERAS & DELFINA BLAQUIER

THE GLOBE TROTTERS: NACHO FIGUERAS & DELFINA BLAQUIER

August, 2020

You may recognize Argentine polo champion Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras and his wife Delfina Blaquier as the glamorous couple from countless Ralph Lauren fragrance campaigns—but with the launch of their own fragrance line last year, they began an entirely new journey into the perfume world. Having zigzagged the planet with their four children for matches and events, the couple wanted the Ignacio Figueras Collection to have a truly international perspective, so the six scents are like olfactory postcards from their favorite cities: Buenos Aires, Windsor, Aspen, Palm Beach, Dubai, and Jaipur. And since family and philanthropy are deeply ingrained in the enterprise, a portion of the fragrances’ sales benefit Prince Harry’s Sentebale charity, which helps children and communities in Lesotho and Botswana. As founders making a tremendous splash with a project clearly so close to their hearts, Figueras and Blaquier share their insight—and excitement for the upcoming awards—with Accords.

You have presented and attended TFF Awards in prior years and have many close ties to the fragrance world having been ambassadors for Ralph Lauren. How does it feel different this year to participate, now that you are TFF members and brand creators?

The difference this year is that we truly feel like we are part of the fragrance community.   We have a much better understanding of the entire process – from concept, through development and finally selling a finished product. In translating emotions into fragrances, we worked with so many artists – perfumers, designers, writers and retail partners that gave us the chance to share our story.  Creating our own brand is a much greater responsibility!

Why was it so important for you to create a fragrance line with a global perspective?

We travel as a family all over the world, often staying for a long time in these polo locations and experiencing so many incredible cultures.  There are many unique aspects of each city yet I find the similarities are what connects us together as people.  We wanted to share the beautiful special emotions that we feel and hopefully connect everyone in a good way.

What has been the highlight of your journey in the fragrance world so far? 

There have been many special moments but the highlight is creating something together as a family.  During the development process we revisited so many emotions and how we grew over the years, solidifying our values and the importance of family. 

What lessons have you learned that you would share with others who are new to the perfume business?

We learned that there are many contributors to a successful brand and although it is a personal process, it is very important to stay open to new ideas.  Another lesson—it is essential to know what you want your brand to stand for. Know what you value.  I also learned to trust my team to help bring my vision to life. We are still learning and are at the beginning of our journey.

How have you incorporated philanthropy into your strategy, and how does it relate to the brand DNA?

Philanthropy is a way of life for us so it was important to make it part of the brand.  We built the brand on three pillars: polo, family and charity.  We wanted to use this opportunity to create awareness and help support the Sentebale charity with our sales and greater exposure.

THE INSIDE SCOOP SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: LINDA G. LEVY
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: LINDA G. LEVY

August, 2020

For this edition of Accords, I am excited to announce our 2020 TFF Awards special host and all the award presenters.

Inspired by her new book, A Woman Makes A Plan, we are thrilled to announce our host will be Maye Musk, international author, dietitian, and model. Maye is a woman of many accomplishments, whose determination and positive outlook drove her to overcome many difficulties & build her own path to success. Maye is truly a role model and shows us that age is not an obstacle but an attribute.

While in prior years, our TFF Awards red carpet was filled with many celebrities from outside the industry as well as insiders, this year we proudly have a star line up where all presenters are highly engaged in fragrance and are active TFF members today. These fabulous presenters will be streaming in from a wide range of USA locations which include their homes, music studios, ateliers, and even a horse ranch. The presenters all share our passion for fragrance and will explain their personal perspectives on fragrance.

ANNOUNCING…… The exciting presenters of the TFF Awards 25 categories are: Two music icons who are both Grammy Award winners and Kennedy Center Honorees: CHER, the one and only who is also an Oscar and Emmy winning, multi-platinum recording artist, actress, and humanitarian;  Lionel Richie, singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, American Idol judge and philanthropist; three extraordinary fashion designers Francisco Costa, Wes Gordon, and Jason Wu; multi-talented artist Rebecca Moses; international polo player Nacho Ignacios and his photographer wife Delfina Blaquier; plus entrepreneurs Chris Collins, Rob Smith and recording artivist Mila Jam. Not only are these fabulous friends of TFF creative forces, each in their own special style, but they are also leaders who GIVE BACK and stand up for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the new TFF initiative which has an action plan I will present myself on the webinar.

Looking forward to September 10th with all of you in the audience when we celebrate all the finalists and announce the winners!

We are in the final countdown to the 2020 TFFAwards webinar which will be presented September 10 at 12 noon EDT. So if you have not registered yet, please sign up now at tffawards.org.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Jul

THE RENAISSANCE MAN: CHRIS COLLINS

THE RENAISSANCE MAN: CHRIS COLLINS
Spotlight

THE RENAISSANCE MAN: CHRIS COLLINS

THE RENAISSANCE MAN: CHRIS COLLINS

July, 2020

If you recognize Chris Collins, there are a few reasons why. For 20 years, he was the face of Ralph Lauren, appearing on billboards and in ads, and traveling the globe as a brand ambassador. But talk about a pivot. In 2018, Collins launched his own eponymous fragrance collection, an assemblage of beautifully crafted, luxurious scents, each brought to life with a vivid, inspiring story. His first collection, Harlem Renaissance, drew a scented line between Paris and Harlem, celebrating the spirit of early 20th century artistic pioneers who hailed from the borough and traveled abroad, such as Josephine Baker, as well the creative energy that flourishes in Collins’s home neighborhood today. A passionate force in the world of fragrance, Collins is on the core leadership team of The Fragrance Foundation’s initiative for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and has made it his goal to help fledgling brands flourish.

How and when did you first become interested in fragrance?

This goes back to when I was a kid. I’ve always loved cologne. My dad used to wear all of those now iconic scents like Grey Flannel and English Leather. As I grew older, I became more infatuated with it, never thinking that my love affair with fragrance would one day end up with me owning my own brand. But along the way, I met a few people who were able to make that journey happen. I knew I had to go for it. Because this is the thing that I’m in love with more than anything.

What initially inspired you to embark on creating perfumes? 

Meeting Kilian was probably the most important connection I made that led to where I am now. Kilian and Frédéric Malle were the first two brands to introduce me to the world of niche fragrance, because before that all I really knew were brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. I was introduced to a Frédéric Malle fragrance by a friend of mine, and when I ran out of it, I went to buy it again. But I went to the wrong store and I ended up buying a Kilian scent. That started me down a path of discovery.  Then our universes sort of collided. I was wearing one of Kilian’s fragrances, and I met someone who worked with him. I said, “I would love to meet Kilian.” And not only did we meet, we worked on a project together—a customized, bespoke fragrance. When I had the bug to launch my own brand, he was very supportive and still is. He’s been an incredible mentor.

How did you find the perfumers to work on your brand?

 I knew that in order to fully understand the world of perfume I needed to go to Grasse, to the birthplace of perfumery. I flew to Cannes and I started to do research on fragrance houses like Givaudan and Robertet and some other small houses. I showed up and said, “I have this idea to launch this fragrance brand. I would like to know how the process works.” And they were all very welcoming. I stayed there for a few months and met some Perfumers to learn about the science behind perfume. I ended up, for my first collection, with a smaller fragrance house, because it was important for me to start from scratch. Finding the perfumers was challenging, but it was part of the process. I had to pay my dues and take the time to be taken seriously. Now I have a group of incredible Perfumers that I work with who do a great job of telling the stories that I like to tell. Perfumers to me are the artists. It’s fascinating the way we work. I always say that the Perfumer and I need to have a great dance together. They have to understand me personally as well as my ideas, and literally speak for me to tell the story of the perfume.

Why do you believe the storytelling aspect is particularly pertinent for perfumery, and why was it so important to you to create a brand with a real connection to Harlem?

Along the way, I figured out that I had a lot to say. And I really believe that not only should every perfume have a great story, every great brand should have a great story. For the first collection, the idea to launch the brand happened in Harlem, so I knew that I needed to pay homage to Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance of the ’20s and the Renaissance that’s happening as we speak. In my opinion, there’s a real resurgence of fashion, art, and food going on, and this is my contribution to that.

Danse Sauvage is the story of Josephine Baker. Harlem Nights is my depiction of a Harlem speakeasy at night. And Renaissance Man is the rebirth of mankind, not just men in general, but the rebirth of men and women together. Those three fragrances told stories that were important to me to tell from the very beginning. There’s also an incredible connection between Harlem and Paris. Josephine Baker, and Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes all left New York and went to Paris, where they were welcomed with open arms.

How do you think your experiences in the fashion industry influenced or benefited your perfume business? 

I’ve always felt like fragrance was an accessory to fashion. I was able to connect it to what I learned through fashion, when I was involved in working for Ralph Lauren. Working with and for him I learned so much about branding and marketing, messaging, packaging—it was almost like I went to RL university. I think it all happened for a reason. Over 20 years it taught me so much. Now I’m here with my own brand, which is an incredible, humbling feeling.

What are your favorite notes? 

My brand, I would say, is genderless, because I don’t believe in saying that fragrances can only be for men or women. Some men are drawn to florals. There are a lot of women who love to wear a more masculine scent. The one common denominator to most of my fragrances is that they have an intensity to them. They all have 20 to 25% fragrance oil. I love boozy notes. I work with a cognac accord. I work with a rum chord. I love oriental, woodsy notes. Even the one floral that I have, Tokyo Moon, is very musky and woody, even though the violet note is the hero. I’m now transitioning into teas and more florals and solar scents to open up the wardrobe of my collections. But my DNA is still going to be imprinted on them with boozy notes, gourmands, and woods.

What are your plans for the brand in the future? 

Obviously with everything going on, a lot of my plans have been slightly delayed. But I’m adapting and figuring out the way forward. I’m just going to continue to make more incredible fragrances. I may enter into the world of home fragrance and possible auxiliary products and grooming. I do plan to expand the brand, but right at this particular moment, I’m still focusing on mastering the universe of perfume.

How has your relationship with The Fragrance Foundation been beneficial?

 The other single most important connection or relationship that I have in the perfume businesses is with Linda. She’s been so helpful in ways that only she and I will ever know. I’ve had legal questions, I’ve had creative questions, relationship questions with retailers. She’s been incredibly helpful. She’s always there for me. We’ve had some brilliant heart to heart discussions. What she’s done with The Fragrance Foundation is more than impressive. And now we’re working together on an initiative to bring more diversity to the world of perfume.

How will you contribute in your leadership role on TFF initiative for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion? It was on my mind prior to the racial unrest that is happening in the country. I had already had a conversation with Linda about it. I said, “It’s very rare for a person of color to have a brand in perfume. We need to talk about it more,” because one of the responsibilities that I have is to inspire others and help or lend whatever advice that I can give. One of the things that we’re going to work on is using my resources and what I’ve learned through my successes and my mistakes to help others, because they both go hand in hand when you’re launching a brand. I think it can be very daunting to people, and especially people of color who don’t honestly think that it’s possible.

I’m here to say that it is possible. I want to be able to help and to make sure that this world of perfume is more diverse. Women of color, men of color, women in general. I just think there’s enough room, enough space for all of us to thrive. When I started having this conversation with Linda she thought it was a fantastic idea. Then the idea just accelerated after everything happened with the racial unrest. I’m very proud to be on this committee. I’m here to build an incredible brand that all people can be proud of, especially people of color, because I want them to be inspired.

What can new TFF indies learn from you and your experience?

 I’ve made so many mistakes. We’re all going to make mistakes. The key is to be able to live another day to be able to fix those mistakes. To me it’s three things. There’s the creative process, which is obviously the most fun, the most fulfilling. But there’s also the business aspect and the legal aspects. It’s very important to pay attention to all three, because if one of those legs is not done properly or doesn’t stand strong the whole business can be affected negatively. My advice to indie brands is to pay attention to all of it, the creative, the legal, and the business parts, because the brand cannot be successful without all three moving together.

HAUTE PURSUIT: SHALINI KUMAR

HAUTE PURSUIT: SHALINI KUMAR
Scents and Sensibility

HAUTE PURSUIT: SHALINI KUMAR

HAUTE PURSUIT: SHALINI KUMAR

July, 2020

When Bombay-born fashion designer Shalini Kumar launched her fragrance collection in 2004, she did not hold back. Her goal, she says, was “to create opulent perfumes composed of the rarest, purest ingredients,” and the first scent out of the gate, Shalini, was a tour de force white floral composed by esteemed nose Maurice Roucel, who has since created a wardrobe of sumptuous showstoppers for the brand. With a background in architecture as well as couture, Shalini brings an attention to detail and eye for luxury to every Shalini Parfum, each of which is available for collectors in limited-edition Lalique bottles that are themselves works of art. Here, she shares her journey and inspirations with Accords.

What inspired you to start your fragrance brand?

I believe I was destined to create a collection of pure parfums. My first scent memory was as a baby being massaged in essential oils by my mother. There were different oils ranging from classic florals — rose and jasmine — to others like sandalwood, olive and ylang ylang. That’s when my love for fragrance was born.

I started my career at Valentino where I developed an appreciation for couture and the history of design, luxury, and longevity. Subsequently, I launched my own Haute Couture collection, Shalini Couture, focused on womenswear and a limited collection of jewelry. Shalini Parfum was conceived as a heritage brand built on the principles of classical French perfumery. I wanted it to be the ‘essence of luxury,’ and the fragrances to be modern masterpieces. Our fragrances are of the pure parfum concentration so the wearer can feel the quality of the natural essences. Each bottle is hand-poured and presented in beautiful black boxes handwritten with gold ink and tied with our signature Shalini yellow ribbon.

Historically, perfumes were not used merely for beauty, but for healing and prayer—the spiritual element. My vision for Shalini Parfum is returning to the healing properties at the root of perfume.  

How did you find and begin to work with perfumer Maurice Roucel?

I met Maurice through a friend and we instantly connected. He visited my atelier a few days later to see the couture collection and we had a very long lunch. Tuberose is my favorite flower and I lamented to Maurice that it was difficult to find a parfum composed of the pure tuberose absolute, often referred to as liquid gold. His response was “Let’s create one.” This was the beginning of Shalini Parfum.

I wanted to create the most exquisite tuberose and neroli fragrance. As a child I would sneak into the garden at night so I could inhale tuberoses by the moonlight. My first memory of neroli was arriving in Seville in the evening hours and the entire city was filled with clementine trees in full bloom. The smell of the orange blossoms was mesmerizing. So my Shalini parfum was originally created for my skin and we offered it to our special couture clients.

Maurice is a pleasure to work with. We connected instantly in creating something of lasting beauty. He captures what I am yearning for. It is a joyful experience. He has the soul of an artist and is very present and connected.

What challenges did you face getting established?

My journey with fragrance was rather miraculous. I didn’t experience many of the challenges faced by most brands. I desired to launch Shalini Parfum at the prestigious Bergdorf Goodman, and Pat Saxby, VP Divisional Merchandise Manager of cosmetics and fragrances at Bergdorf fell in love with Shalini immediately and decided to launch it. Pat is the Godmother of the brand. She recognized the uniqueness of my Parfums and has always believed in them. Harrods Salon de Parfums has also been extremely supportive. They have an exquisite display of our parfums and have dedicated their most coveted wall to them.

I do face some challenges in launching in the Middle East and Russia. We have many clients in both these areas and they would like us to launch the parfums there. However, the logistics and registration processes are rather complicated. 

Your Lalique flacons are so special. How did you begin to incorporate them into the world of Shalini?

For Shalini, I envisioned a bottle that would convey the exquisite beauty and the lightness of flight of the fragrance. I found the beautiful Lalique crystal flacon “Le Coquillage” in Paris. The design reminiscent of a butterfly wing echoes the preciousness of the fragrance.

It is an honor to be able to present our opulent pure parfums “Grand Cru” in the exquisite creations of Rene Lalique. Each parfum has its own Lalique flacon which reflects the inspiration of the parfum. The sense of the visual is extremely important to me and the Lalique flacon allows the wearer to engage both sight and smell. To hold the falcon in your hand as you apply the parfum on your skin is magical.

What do you love most about fragrance?

Fragrance transcends country, gender, culture, religion and season. Like music, it is an art form that is very inclusive. I compose my fragrances like poems that leave something to the imagination of the wearer to interpret based on their own memories and experience. My fragrances are inspired by moments and memories of my life—my magical childhood, my first love, endless days of summer by the Mediterranean, arriving in Seville in the evening hours, driving under the night sky of Dubai, fields of blue lavender in Provence…and the sense of the ethereal. 

The passion I bring is very deep. It is an offering of the self, at the soul level to the wearer. The wearer experiences that passion. Fragrance is what a person wears closest to their skin. It enters the body through the pores and affects the soul in the most subtle way.  Selecting a fragrance is a very personal commitment so our fragrances need to appeal to a deeper sense of self.

 What are your goals for the future?

We are planning to launch our new parfum, Iris Lumiere in Autumn. Harrods has an exclusive pre-launch in August, and we have a worldwide launch in September. There will be a sixth parfum of the series with Maurice Roucel planned for Autumn 2021.

We have a loyal following all over the world including Royal families on two continents. Our brand has been built through word-of-mouth by those who understand “the essence of luxury” that we stand for.  We are looking for an umbrella company which would understand the luxury and purity of our parfums and bring in the infrastructure to develop the brand worldwide.

How has being a part of The Fragrance Foundation benefitted your business?

Linda is a wonderful friend and mentor for me and I have immense gratitude for all the support of The Fragrance Foundation. It is a great community to be part of. There is also an immense learning opportunity in connecting with the foundation members at events.

Amorem Rose was a finalist for The Fragrance Foundation awards which brings visibility and honor to our brand, and Paradis Provence was also nominated for an award which was a great honor. The Fragrance Foundation is also very supportive in including our brand on Instagram and other media. This brings further visibility and is wonderful.

What can you teach other independent brands from your experience?

I always say find something you believe in and pour your heart into it. Trust that your heart and creativity will take you in the right direction. Don’t follow any trends, just your inner vision. I believe it is very important to be authentic in your creation as well as your message.

As a child, my grandfather took me to the races where he showed me that the thoroughbred horses wear blinders when they race so they are not distracted by others. He told me that to be a success in life you need to think like a thoroughbred and focus only on your vision and not what others are doing. To this day, I follow that advice.

Persistence and patience are extremely important virtues in any endeavor. I remind myself of this every day. I also feel it is very important to connect with your clients, spend time with them and laugh with them. I understood that during my time in haute couture where my personal relationships with our clients was very important.

How can you contribute to The Fragrance Foundation’s initiative for diversity, equity, and inclusion? 

As a woman, creator and artist I have lived and traveled in many parts of the world. This shifts your awareness and everything you create encompasses your view of the world.

Our parfums are inspired by different places, and bring not only the essences of those places but also their culture and art, their very soul. Diversity begins with compassion and understanding of another culture, religion, food, music and art.  Once you raise your soul consciousness, diversity, equity and inclusion become a natural state of being. You transcend these definitions.

THE FIRESTARTER: ABIGAIL COOK STONE

THE FIRESTARTER: ABIGAIL COOK STONE
What The Nose Knows

THE FIRESTARTER: ABIGAIL COOK STONE

THE FIRESTARTER: ABIGAIL COOK STONE

July, 2020

Otherland candles make you happy just to look at them. To light them, even more so. Founder Abigail Cook Stone began her career as an art buyer for Ralph Lauren, so it’s no surprise that when she decided to launch a home fragrance brand, she brought discernment and a flair for style to the enterprise. Working with perfumers to concoct perfectly balanced scents that fill a room but never overpower, Cook Stone’s vision was to create a collection of meticulously (and cleanly) crafted candles, so beautiful that you’ll want to display the glass vessels long after the wax has dissipated. With an engagingly joyful social media presence—tune in to one of Cook Stone’s Instagram Lives for a delightful diversion—Otherland has infused the home fragrance landscape with a new, youthful energy. Here, Cook Stone fills us in on how she got Otherland off the ground and made it a runaway success.

What inspired you to start Otherland?

I’ve been obsessed with art, candles and the power of scent my entire life. I came from a background of art and design, studying art history in college and working in the Art Acquisitions department at Ralph Lauren. When I was in business school, candles became a part of my everyday self-care routine, from my morning Headspace meditation to unwinding after a long day of class with Netflix and a sheet mask. I was obsessed with candles, but what I could afford wasn’t matching what I liked. I realized through talking with my friends that they felt similarly. 

Seeing this opportunity, I wanted to build a modern brand with high-quality fragrance at an accessible price and with a focus on art. It’s a consumable, experiential object d’art (visual, olfactive, tactile), while incorporating storytelling and community through digital channels. Hence, Otherland!

What principles and brand attributes were most important to you from the start?

I define brand as the relationship a company has with their customers, and every touchpoint counts: from logo all the way through to packaging, engagement on social media, even the tone of customer service. We spent a lot of time considering how our brand would be consumed at home (and on Instagram), not just at the point of purchase on our website, and studying what the key elements could be to differentiate it. 

We decided to invest in not just extraordinary fragrance, but placed equal importance on visual design. We work with different artists to create each new collection and design custom packaging with lots of unique surface areas as a layered canvas for the storytelling and scent experience to play out. As a digitally-native brand, expressive color, pattern, and design–seen in the packaging, social media content and website–activate an emotional connection with our customers that inspires them to purchase, overcoming the hurdle of not being able to smell beforehand.

What was the initial development process like?

I decided I first needed to learn how to make candles, so I turned my very tiny West Village NYC kitchen into a candle laboratory. After a month of near-daily production (and starting a few small fires)—testing out different wick sizes, container shapes, wax blends, fragrances, melt temperatures—I felt confident I had enough background knowledge to talk to manufacturers and fragrance houses. 

While working with a major fragrance house seemed out of reach as a pre-launch startup, at a friend’s bachelorette party she strategically seated me next to a friend of hers who worked at Firmenich and connected me with Asha Talwar Coco. Asha believed in my vision for the brand from the start, and I’m grateful Firmenich took a chance on us at such an early stage and has continued to nurture our brand, as well as Givaudan more recently.

How did you decide on the scents, and how did the unique packaging evolve? 

Each Otherland scent is inspired by a vision or nostalgic memory, creating complex, unexpected scent combinations that naturally lend themselves to storytelling and artwork. It was important to me to develop scents in an evocative, emotional, experiential context instead of focusing on single ingredients like grapefruit or rose.

In terms of the packaging, we knew we wanted to develop a system that would allow us to work with different artists for each new collection. Having a unique assortment of surfaces for printed artwork for their creation to occupy and communicate the scent experience and collection vibe with was critical: the large, frameable “platform” in our box, the candle “topper” lid, the matchbox, and candle label. This modular system has allowed us to successfully develop and market such distinct collections while allowing the brand to evolve visually and bringing a constant sense of newness to our customer. 

When you were establishing the brand, was there a moment that felt like a breakthrough?

Less than one year after launch we received an exciting call from Instagram letting us know they had selected us for the first-ever official Instagram Holiday Gift Guide. A few months later, Instagram’s Eva Chen was unboxing our candle on Good Morning America – an awesome and surreal moment for a young brand! 

What are your goals for the future of Otherland? 

One of our biggest goals has been to expand from direct-to-consumer to omni-channel distribution. We recently launched in select Nordstrom stores and will have more to share on this effort soon, so stay tuned! 

In the next five years, my goal is for Otherland to be the go-to candle and home fragrance brand for millennials. In addition to our omni-channel expansion and continuing to build our direct business, key growth drivers will include launching new product formats and thematic scent collections, and our own stores and pop-ups down the road. 

Another goal is to continue developing our digital community on social media. At the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown in mid-March, I started doing daily Fireside Chats on Instagram Live to further the conversation around self-care, fragrance, women’s entrepreneurship, and the art of living well. I’ll admit, I had never done a livestream before and was quite nervous about it! I pushed myself to give it a try and am so glad I did, as it opened the door for us to interview guests like Arianna Huffington, itCosmetics Founder Jamie Kern Lima, Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Aya Kanai, SNL’s Heidi Gardner, HoneypotCo Founder Bea Dixon, drybar Founder Alli Webb, designers Rebecca Minkoff and Cynthia Rowley, activist Noor Tagouri, chef Candace Nelson, and more.

What’s the secret to a great Insta Live, and what have you learned from doing them?

The secret to a great IG Live is in the prep work! Finding the great guests, thoroughly researching them, and developing a tight list of questions that lend to engaging, attention-grabbing conversation while speaking to overall brand themes, current events and cultural climates, and the guest’s specific identity and story. 

One thing I’ve learned is to approach each Fireside Chat as a two-way conversation, not just an interview. Rather than just reading off questions to the guest, by putting myself out there a bit more and sharing some of my experiences I’m able to better connect with the guests. You get better, more interesting answers when the guest feels comfortable enough to let their guard down a bit and it feels like a chat among friends. 

How has being a part of The Fragrance Foundation benefitted your business?

I’m grateful to have been introduced to The Fragrance Foundation early on in the life of Otherland. Their nurturing of our young brand has made a real impact, from introducing Otherland to the fragrance industry community and sharing us on social media, to mentoring me as we scale and face new challenges and opportunities such as moving into omni-channel distribution. As an outsider to the industry, having The Fragrance Foundation’s warm welcome and guidance has made a meaningful difference in setting us up for success as we grow our business. I feel deeply inspired to be among a community of so many brands and individuals who are so passionate about the art and creativity of fragrance and I love to hear the stories behind brands, perfumers, fragrances, ingredients and creative processes. It inspires me to continue to build Otherland.

How will you contribute to The Fragrance Foundation’s work to nurture other indie brands? 

I look forward to welcoming other indie, startup brands to this community through making myself available for mentorship to other founders, supporting on social media, and sharing our Otherland founding story to inspire others.

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY Photo by: Michael Avedon
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY Photo by: Michael Avedon

July, 2020

We are very proud to share this issue featuring three inspiring entrepreneurs. Chris Collins, Shalini Kumar and Abigail Cook Stone each developed brands that are unique, as are their personalities. They are true personal love stories in fragrance. In the last few years TFF and I developed lifetime relationships with each founder that makes me so proud every time I catch a whiff of their fragrance and have a huge smile visiting them online and in-store. They are inspiring individuals whose brand stories exemplify our TFF mission and objectives.

As we have shared recently, The Fragrance Foundation is dedicated to our major new initiative to expand our membership and community with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. A major force within this effort is to nurture indies and amplify the talent of the diverse creative forces in fragrance, reflecting the entire USA population. We are embracing all new members, so it was fitting to bring these three unique stories to our audience. We look forward to many more joining us.

Our course of action and ambition is to broaden our membership, offering benefits including education, mentorship and connectivity within this exciting industry.

Enjoy the experiences shared in Accords and you will be inspired as am I. World of Chris Collins, Otherland, and Shalini each show what is possible in creating a fragrance brand. 

Keep your eyes on them and experience their scents as they are just at the beginning of their brand journeys to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Jun

THE BEAUTY DIRECTOR WITH INCLUSIVE VISION: JULEE WILSON

THE BEAUTY DIRECTOR WITH INCLUSIVE VISION: JULEE WILSON
Spotlight

THE BEAUTY DIRECTOR WITH INCLUSIVE VISION: JULEE WILSON

THE BEAUTY DIRECTOR WITH INCLUSIVE VISION: JULEE WILSON

Julee Wilson is a veteran beauty editor with a keen eye and a dynamic career path that has taken her from Real Simple to Huffington Post to Essence—and now to Cosmopolitan, which she joined as Beauty Director in April. Wilson has been a vital force for change in beauty, fashion, and media, joining forces with purposeful organizations and making her voice heard as an engaging Instagram presence and public speaker. As a key participant in The Fragrance Foundation’s initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, she will work to bring attention to those in the fragrance industry who have been underrepresented, and contribute her invaluable insight and energy to the cause.

What excites you most about joining Cosmo?

For most of my career, I was in mainstream media. I spent six and a half years at Real Simple. I spent almost five and a half years at Huff Post. Really only a blip of my existence has been at a more niche Black publication, but I think that being at Essence allowed me to really hone my voice and understand the problems within beauty and fashion. That’s given me the confidence to now go into an iconic brand like Cosmo and be bold and unapologetic about the direction that I’m hoping I can push the beauty content. It was dope anyway, but as a Black woman, I can bring new ideas, and more diversity and inclusion. And just in general, I’m a beauty fanatic. I’m interested in making sure that everyone feels celebrated and excited and that we give them the best content Cosmo has ever had.  

You’ve been such a strong force in pushing for diversity across the board in beauty and fashion. What have you been proudest of along the way?

I’m most proud of my work in diversity and inclusion. I’m hell bent on making sure that my seat at the table is not taken in vain and that I’m not just there going through the motions. I’m really pushing whatever company I’m working with to be more woke. I don’t take that lightly and I don’t hold any punches. I’m tactical about it. I obviously want to make sure I’m presenting my ideas in a way that makes sense and from a loving place. But at the same time, I’m very forward about the things that I think need to be done and changed in the industry. And so a lot of my work has centered around that. I love the project I started at Essence where I pulled back the curtain of the beauty industry at different beauty brands and celebrated the Black women there. A lot of times there are not that many, but they are the ones doing the work. Part of the legacy that I would like to leave is that I told really dope stories and that I was able to celebrate people who might not be celebrated otherwise.

What are some of the organizations or groups that you support that we should all be kind of watching and supporting and learning from?

Harlem’s Fashion Row is an organization that champions designers of color to make sure that they get the visibility and the resources they need to succeed in the fashion industry. I’ve been on the advisory board since it started, which was 11, 12 years ago. I’m also a part of 25 Black Women in Beauty, which celebrates Black women in the beauty industry and Black-owned companies. These are women from all aspects of the beauty industry, from founders to women who work for the big corporations to editors like myself. That’s a really great organization, really championing diversity within beauty.

What would you say are some of the biggest obstacles that we still need to overcome in beauty and media?

There are a lot of problems, but I’m a glass half full type gal. So, I definitely approach it from “Okay, but how can I help?” Instead of just wagging my finger. It’s about being a changemaker. I think it’s everything from soup to nuts in the beauty industry. It starts with product development and goes on up. I always use the example of edges because they are a universal truth for Black women. No matter how we treat our hair or how we wear our hair, our edges matter. And if you look at the top beauty brands in the industry, how many of them have products for edges? If it was universal for white women, every brand would have multiple products. The fact that even just our basic needs are not being met is such an opportunity for growth within beauty.

I think things happen when you have people of color in leadership positions and at the table in your company. I’m not just talking about interns and assistants, I’m talking about true leadership, people who make decisions. That goes for beauty brands, that goes for magazines and media. You wouldn’t know that edges matter if you didn’t have a person of color on your editorial team saying, “You’ve never printed a story about edges, that’s a huge mistake.” Again, that’s just one small thing. I could run a list of things within ethnic communities, not just Black. I think a lot of times we get stuck in Black and white, what about our Latin X, brothers and sisters? What about our Indian brothers and sisters? What about our indigenous brothers and sisters? There are so many nuances within our culture when it comes to beauty that people completely forget. I think it’s dangerous to only be concerned with the beauty that’s reflected in the mirror.

What do you hope to accomplish with your involvement in The Fragrance Foundation’s initiative for diversity, equity, and inclusion?

It’s about shining the light on a group of professionals within this space that have largely been forgotten. There are Black perfumers and Black-owned fragrance companies out there that have been trying to establish a presence and haven’t really been able to the way that their white counterparts have. And I think that’s due to a lack of visibility, and a lack of resources for a start. I think that this will be a great opportunity to give them the attention that they need in all of those different areas. I’m really excited about that because I think that it’s a new frontier for the fragrance industry. Not only is it morally right, but business-wise it makes sense. The fragrance industry can feel very elitist, and so I think that this is an opportunity to kind of open those doors and show that it can be diverse and it can be welcoming and inclusive.

What do you personally love about fragrance?

Fragrances to me are like shoes, I have way too many of them and they really dictate my mood and my personality for that day. At home I have probably 80 to 90 fragrances. Obviously, it’s an occupational thing, too, but I’m that girl. One of my beauty rituals is that I put a fragrance on every time I wash myself. After I shower in the morning, and then again if I take another shower when I get home at night. Even when I’m just getting ready for bed, I put fragrance on.

I don’t feel like I’ve completely gone through my wash routine unless it ends with putting on a fragrance. Sometimes it’s more than one fragrance. I shadow my fragrances, wearing something different on different parts of my body. At night I usually only just wear one, but I love picking out which one that might be based on my mood and how I’m feeling after that long day. It’s nice to have a little finishing touch.

THE FASHION DESIGNER TAKING A STAND AGAINST HATE: JASON WU

THE FASHION DESIGNER TAKING A STAND AGAINST HATE: JASON WU
Scents and Sensibility

THE FASHION DESIGNER TAKING A STAND AGAINST HATE: JASON WU

THE FASHION DESIGNER TAKING A STAND AGAINST HATE: JASON WU

Jason Wu, lest he need any introduction, is one of the world’s leading fashion designers and lifestyle creatives—and the very scent-attuned, super-involved creator behind the beloved Jason Wu fragrance and its nighttime sister Velvet Rouge. Just as he has always broken down barriers with his democratic fashion vision, Wu has also been actively working to give voice to the marginalized, striving for progress and acceptance for all in his role on the Board of Directors of the GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis] organization. Most recently, he aligned with the creative agency Collective Shift to design a face mask for Distance Yourself from Hate, a campaign that features social media PSAs from an array of voices from the arts, fashion, and entertainment worlds (think everyone from Rosie Perez to Diane Kruger to Latrice Royale) calling for an end to prejudice and discrimination. All proceeds help GMHC provide assistance to people in need throughout New York City. As he joins the Fragrance Foundation’s initiative for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Wu shares his thoughts on how the fragrance and fashion industries can be powerful players in communicating messages of love and solidarity that will make the world better for all.

How did you originally get involved with GMHC?

I’ve been on the board for about five years. I was originally on the board of ACRIA [AIDS Community Research Initiative of America], which merged with the GMHC, a much larger HIV/AIDS organization. I’ve been working with them at their center on 38th street and in many other capacities. We do the AIDS walk every year, and we do the Latex Ball, where thousands of voguers come to compete. These kids are just incredible, and it’s a great way for our community, which is very diverse, to come together and share their creativity. This year I took on more of a developmental role, to come up with ideas and see how we as a service can be even more inclusive.

What was the genesis of the Distance Yourself from Hate project, and why was it so important to expand the message to all kinds of discrimination?

With everything that started happening with the pandemic in March, we sought out a collaboration with my friend Jae Choi at the Collective Shift creative agency, and came up with the program for Distance Yourself from Hate. It started because it became very apparent that face masks would become important to our daily lives in the coming months, and we wanted, first of all, to address the issue that there was a lot of anger and discrimination against the Asian community at the beginning of the virus. Being Chinese myself, I felt singled out, just walking down the street. Jae is Korean American, so he felt the same way. We talked to the GMHC board, which is amazing, and together we thought, how can we expand our services? The GMHC came from the LGBHQ community in the 80s when gay men and women were targeted because of HIV/AIDS. So we’ve seen it before. And now we have technology to spread our message so much more quickly. But the work is not finished. That’s why today in addition to covering the LGBTQ community, we’ve expanded to work with other organizations to provide them with protective masks and food.

Fabien Baron graciously designed the logo. I know everyone in the fragrance world knows his name very well. He’s been a close friend for many years, so I looked no further than asking Fabien to design a logo that’s really beautifully executed and also powerful in its messaging. Then we created videos for social media that involve a hugely diverse group of people from actors to volunteers to people in fashion. It was very important to show our diversity, because in New York City you have such a diverse environment, but that’s not necessarily the case everywhere else. We wanted people who don’t live in big cities to hear from voices they might not hear from so often.

What is some of the most crucial work that you think needs to be done to overcome discrimination, and spread the message of finding real strength in solidarity?

Since we started this in March a lot of things that have happened in our country that have revealed that we have a lot more work to do as a society and as a country in terms of systemic racism and bigotry. As one marginalized community to another, we understand how that feels. We want to be spearheading the idea of leading with a voice of love not hate.

I think a lot of us in creative fields are particularly open minded because we have to open ourselves up to so many cultures and experiences in order to stay creative. We are often lucky enough to be able to travel the world, whether it’s sourcing materials for fragrance materials or for fabric, and there are a lot of lessons out there for us to take away. The creative industry is really primed for helping society move forward to be much more inclusive and forgiving, and spread the message of equality.

How can fragrance and fashion specifically help change people’s perspectives and build a more inclusive world?

I think we can actively use our platforms in order to communicate and spread awareness. Everything is connected. We created a mask, rather than a T-shirt or something else, because we wanted to make sure that we were making something that people actually need. I think it’s become painfully clear how overly consumeristic we are as a culture – and I know that’s weird coming from a fashion designer – but I think we have to slow down our consumption. It was important to create something functional, quality, reusable, and sustainable.

What do you hope to accomplish through your involvement with the Fragrance Foundation’s initiative for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

I think it will really open up the conversation. Every time I go to the Fragrance Awards, I’m always in awe about how international it is. This is more than a national movement, and we’re so solidly connected to the world through the Fragrance Foundation itself, more so than any other industry. I think the Fragrance Foundation can be a key player in helping us to unite and bring our voices together as creatives globally. When you go to the Fragrance Foundation Awards, it’s like the Super Bowl for fragrance. Everyone from the amazing Frederic Malle to the best perfumers in the world are there. And I think that’s something that’s so powerful, how one organization can unite different races and cultures and people from all walks of life who come together in the interest of creating beautiful fragrances.

And these people have all traveled the world. Having been in the fragrance game myself for about three years, I’ve learned so much about ingredients and where they come from, such as my favorite jasmine sambac, which we source from India. These amazing materials connect us, and we can use that connection to spread the word of love.

THE ENTREPRENEUR AMPLIFYING LGBTQ+ VOICES: ROB SMITH

THE ENTREPRENEUR AMPLIFYING LGBTQ+ VOICES: ROB SMITH
What The Nose Knows

THE ENTREPRENEUR AMPLIFYING LGBTQ+ VOICES: ROB SMITH

THE ENTREPRENEUR AMPLIFYING LGBTQ+ VOICES: ROB SMITH

Rob Smith is the mastermind behind The Phluid Project, which began as a gender-free fashion store in 2018 (originally brick-and-mortar, now digital-only), and has become a powerful community hub and a driver of change in the retail and corporate spheres. This includes fragrance: The Phluid Project’s collection with Scent Beauty, Phluid Scent Elixirs, introduced a revolutionary concept—biphase, nonbinary perfume sprays with crowdsourced notes. As a pioneer in the gender expansive movement and a thought leader on the values and priorities of Gen Z, Smith educates and advocates on behalf of underrepresented LGBTQIA+ youth, working to open up minds and doors along the way. Accords speaks to him about his goals and accomplishments as he joins forces with The Fragrance Foundation in spearheading its initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

What was the impetus behind The Phluid Project? 

I had been in retail for 30 years, working for Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret and then I had a brand doing licensing work. And then I had an awakening when I went to Burning Man. It was really special for me. One, because it’s a utopian society, where people take care of each other. But it was also interesting for me because it’s an atmosphere of self-expression and people adapt to it very quickly. By day three, heteronormative straight guys are like, “I need tights and I need you to paint my nails now,” because they don’t fit in. Everyone joins in this culture of freedom and caring. I came back thinking, “I need to do more with my life, and participate in a world that’s more compassionate, empathetic and purpose driven.” I quit my job, and I backpacked around the world. On that journey, I came up with the idea for The Phluid Project. I got back in July, and I opened in March. 

What have you achieved that you’ve been proudest of?

When you’re in your 50s, and you’ve been doing something for so many years, just being the first at something was pretty remarkable—and that was finding the intersection of fashion with community, activism, and education in a way that seems really authentic. Building a company with values is the other thing I’m proudest of. I built a value system, and a social code, from the very beginning. Even the names of the scents are from our value system: Transcend, Balance, and Intention. 

How did the Phluid Scent Elixirs come about? 

During last year’s Pride, we worked with Edge Beauty to create scent cards that were gender neutral, with a combination of masculine and feminine notes, and passed them out. We put them in all the packages, and people voted on what scents they liked most—so the final scents themselves were really created by the community. It was an interesting process, to let go, and let them decide what they like.

What made you want to do a fragrance in the first place? 

I was looking for extensions of products to do that would be a natural fit. And the first thing that I wanted to do was fragrance. Steve Mormoris from Edge reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in creating scents with them, and it felt like kismet. It was their idea to combine oil and water. And I loved it. And also the idea of making a collection of scents that put together looks like the rainbow. And the last one, Transcend, is the color of the trans flag. 

What did you want to give people that they might not have found in the fragrance market before?

I think it’s been so binary, for so long. Women’s are florals and fruits, and men’s are spices and woods. It was like, where are the ones that don’t speak to your gender identity, but speak to your humanity? It’s not necessarily just for queer people. It’s for everybody. 

The Phluid Project trains companies how to build more gender expansive teams. Why is that so important ?

We started because I would get dozens of resumes every week. And my team, altogether, was only about 20 people. But I thought, “How can I help these people get jobs?” So, we decided to create a job portal. If you’re looking for a job, and you’re queer, you can put your resume into this portal. And then, if somebody wanted to hire intentionally, from the trans non binary community, to be more inclusive, this would be a source. But I realized I couldn’t send these young people to companies until the companies were trained. I decided to create something called Gender Expansive Training, GET Phluid, and start to educate companies, and get them ready for this workforce and consumer base. 

You’ve become a real thought leader on Gen Z. What are some of the insights you have found about generational values?

I call them Gen Me, and Gen We. They’re Gen Me, because they’re their own brand ambassador. They use social media to voice their performance. Each of them is their own brand. But they’re also Gen We. They’re activists. They care about social justice. They care about all identities. They don’t check just one box. They’re like, “Why do I have to check a box?” The reason the company’s called Phluid is because that’s the space between the boxes. 

What does that say about the importance of inclusion moving forward?

Statistically, over half of Gen Z are queer, or somewhere in the spectrum of gender expression. The binary concepts of male and female are so limiting, but that’s the way the infrastructure is built. I did a TEDx talk on gender and fashion—past, present and future. And I did research on the color pink, and how it didn’t become gendered as female until after World War II. So you think, within a lifetime, this happens. We’re constantly learning and relearning. And now we’re moving so much faster, because of social media. We get so focused on things that are rolling backwards, but you can’t stop the momentum of our planet right now. As young people continue to take more space where their voices can be amplified, we’re going to be unstoppable.

What do you hope to see come of the Fragrance Foundation initiative?  

When I walk into any space and when I partner with anyone, I hope that I can be a voice and advocate for the community that I serve and represent. In this case, it’s Gen Z and specifically the gender expansive community.

It starts out with challenging the idea of the binary system. This idea that there’s just male and female doesn’t allow people to be self-expressive. It will always exist, but how do you break it down a bit? And, when you understand that gender is a social construct, how do you start to deconstruct that? When you think about fragrance, if you’re a girl who loves pink and flowers, you’re definitely represented. If you’re a man who likes masculine smells, and blue and black and brown, you’re definitely represented. But what about the people in the middle, who like both? Breaking down those constructs gives people permission to try new things. It’s fun. And the more we get to play, and be curious, the more we’re going to find our authentic selves. 

THE INSIDE SCOOP – DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP – DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION: LINDA G. LEVY Photo by: Michael Avedon
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP – DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP – DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION: LINDA G. LEVY Photo by: Michael Avedon

This edition of Accords marks the official launch of a major new initiative at The Fragrance Foundation: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The Fragrance Foundation Board is aligned and we have dynamic, creative professionals who are dedicated to the importance of this initiative so we can move forward to formulate specific objectives and a plan of action. 

We are fortunate to share the stories of three accomplished leaders of change who will be instrumental at TFF as we define our goals and who will take on this important effort with us. We are confident their contributions will be key to our success in expanding our fragrance community. Julee Wilson, Jason Wu and Rob Smith are great talents who have already dedicated their lives and careers to make the world a better place through positive outreach and inclusiveness, each in their own way.

We ask that you all commit, stay the course, and take action with us to engage an expanded fragrance community. Let us together join in and contribute to our mission: Inspiring the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance. Our objectives remain steadfast: engage consumers, nurture talent, create content rich experiences, give back and insure all are welcomed and included.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

May

VISION BOARD: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE CURRENT & FUTURE STATE OF THE BUSINESS

VISION BOARD: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE CURRENT & FUTURE STATE OF THE BUSINESS The Fragrance Foundation Board of Directors Meeting – January 2020
Spotlight

VISION BOARD: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE CURRENT & FUTURE STATE OF THE BUSINESS

VISION BOARD: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE CURRENT & FUTURE STATE OF THE BUSINESS The Fragrance Foundation Board of Directors Meeting – January 2020

TFF Board Insight: Current & Future State of the Business

For this month’s special edition of Accords, we reached out to Fragrance Foundation board members to learn about how they and their colleagues are navigating the unchartered territory of Covid-19. As brands, fragrance houses, suppliers, and retailers adjust their business practices to changing circumstances, they are finding creative ways to tackle challenges, make vital connections, and carve out exciting opportunities that will propel the industry into a bright and prosperous—if somewhat different—future. Here, leaders share how they have adapted, and the lessons they have learned along the way.

Marc Blaison, EVP, Cosmo International Fragrances

How do you keep your team motivated and on track when you can’t see them face-to-face?

Daily touch base with leaders of the organization and with the cross-functional teams where we promote a constant message of positivity, appreciation, connection, trust and solidarity.

Trusting each other, effective communication and company wide support of shared common goals, sentiments & vision allowing us to stay motivated and on track, even when distance.

Initiatives where we can work together cross-functionally & globally, whether it’s giving back to the community, gaining new perspectives, having a virtual discussion or a virtual happy hour.

Strengthening and fostering a deeper connection with our colleagues by staying more connected amidst the distancing.

Not losing our sense of humor.

How have you seen consumer habits change during this stay home time?

The crisis will not only carve out change and open up new opportunities but fast track existing trends into overdrive; i.e. technology, sensorial escapism, wellness, clean ingredients, transparency and social responsibility.

Consumers are searching for ways to foster a sense of togetherness while apart; connecting in the digital world has never been so important and many are having a greater appreciation for technology more than ever before, virtual spaces are facilitating human connections and social engagements.

Transparency will be a non-negotiable for consumers, more transparent supply chains will ensure the health and wellbeing of those involved in the creation of a product.

People are re-assessing their priorities and values, and shifting away from an uber fast-paced lifestyle, taking this time as an opportunity for a slowdown, a reset…. slow living, slow beauty, self-reflection, mindful consumption, and inner wellness will gain traction.

Penny Coy, Vice President Merchandising, Fragrance and Prestige Skincare, Ulta Beauty

How have you seen consumer habits change during this stay home time?

The guest is even more focused on self-care and wellness. During this time, they have made time to develop regular routines for a sense of “normalcy.” Treatments, like masking and exfoliation, whether it’s face, hands or feet (may be even all at once!). We see these categories continuing to trend, along with candles and home fragrance.  Do-it-yourself hair color kits and nail kits are also very popular.

What is the biggest challenge you find with the new work from home reality?   

As a team we have thrived working together through Microsoft Teams Meetings, Zoom, etc.  What I miss is the interaction with the products—that first moment you experience touching and smelling something new and exciting! Just talking about it isn’t quite the same.

Diane Crecca, SVP, Arcade Beauty

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

Fragrance will always be a part of our lives.  People will need it to relax them, to make them feel good, make them feel sexy and just make them “feel.”

How do you keep your team motivated and on track when you can’t see them face-to-face?

I motivate my team with one on one calls, which at this point I think are vital—I need to make each person feel important.  The Zoom calls certainly serve a purpose but I find it’s hard for me to focus on what each person has to say.

What is the biggest challenge you find with the new work from home reality?

Biggest challenge from working at home is to “step away from the laptop” after a certain time of day.

What is the most positive aspect you see coming out of this situation in terms of work?

I have realized that our company team members know how to step up and pitch in—no matter what the task!

Maria Dempsey, CEO, Nest Fragrances

How do you keep your team motivated and on track when you can’t see them face-to-face?

More frequent Town Halls to update the entire company on the priorities of the business. Lots of calls (rather than emails) so people feel connected.

What is the biggest challenge you find with the new work from home reality?

We are so used to using all of our senses while we work on fragrances—it is hard not to be able to smell, touch and see the products. We are having to create and develop new products without all of us smelling and evaluating them. I also love the energy that people bring to a meeting and that is hard to get from a Zoom call!

Pierre Desaulles, CEO, Interparfums

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

Positive and Bright. Fragrance will have a role to play in re enchanting the world. And doing this with a smart approach.

How do you keep your team motivated and on track when you can’t see them face-to-face?

Staying straight and honest on current challenges and outcomes, and also on the bright future. Also never assuming you know someone else’s every day challenges. Humility in today’s world is key.

What is the most positive aspect you see coming out of this situation in terms of work?

I believe that I will say the opposite of what most people will say. It shows how strong and indefinable the supplement of soul a face-to-face meeting brings to the discussion. I hope it will put the Human back in the center of everything and to me it is through real face-to-face moments. Digital helps and is SO convenient but it is like listening to music online vs going to a live performance. I am sorry but I love live shows.

Nata Dvir, SVP/ General Business Manager at Macy’s – Beauty & Center Core

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

Fragrances have always been a reminder of a special moment or person in one’s life. I think now more than ever people are more sentimental so I see our classic fragrances have a continued resurgence as people want to have a comforting scent surrounding them.

How do you keep your team motivated and on track when you can’t see them face-to-face?

We get together every day as a team for a business update, sometimes it takes 30 minutes sometimes it takes 5. We use this time to celebrate wins, solve opportunities as they come or just joke around. I find during this time it’s important to stay connected and put your camera on! People want to see you! 

We instituted “Future Friday’s” early on where we talk about the future – either holiday 2020 or 2021. This allows us to focus on something other than the day to day that can feel overwhelming.  

How have you seen consumer habits change during this stay home time?

Customers are experimenting! They are looking for advice from friends, family, influencers, experts—anyone! They want to try new products since they have more time on their hands and they want to treat themselves to something that will make them feel better.

Julien Gommichon, President Americas, Diptyque & BYREDO

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

After a long period of low consumer confidence during the pandemic, focusing on essential and “panic” buying, customers (who still have the purchasing power) will go back to impulse buying of fragrance and home for themselves or gifting. New ways for testing and sampling need to be created to provide a unique experience while taking into account the new safety measures.

How do you keep your team motivated and on track when you can’t see them face-to-face?

We were also surprisingly happy to see a strong team moral week after week, with efficient technology (Zoom, Teams), daily connection on one to one or small team discussions. We implemented weekly social activity via Zoom (birthday celebration, bingo, toddler picture quiz) and weekly business updates for US and global, trying to be the most open and transparent as possible about the situation.

What is the most positive aspect you see coming out of this situation in terms of work?

Capacity of the team to work remotely and efficiently. We’ll review the work from home policy moving forward.

Mark Knitowski, VP Product Innovation, Victoria’s Secret

How have you seen consumer habits change during this stay home time?

Digital engagement—everything seems to be cashless, groceries delivered at home (through Amazon, Target, and Walmart).  Even people who may have been resistant to using or buying online now have no choice. They have had to get comfortable with it.   

Julianne Pruett, VP Fine Fragrance Sales, Symrise

How do you envision the future of fragrance? 

A share of fragrances will likely incorporate more value-added benefits, integrating cosmetic ingredients and skin-friendly textures, evolving fragrance into a “fragrance plus” category; something that Symrise has been predicting for years.

Jerry Vittoria, President Fine Fragrance Worldwide, Firmenich

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

Very bright! Fine Fragrance will always be a small indulgence and an escape for consumers. This will only be enhanced. Fragrances always bring a smile to all who use them. It’s a happy product needed now more than ever. We will create lots of new ways for consumers to enjoy fragrance, for themselves, for their families, for the home and to signal good hygiene and safety.

What is the biggest challenge you find with the new work from home reality? 

Schools being closed has been very challenging for many as they juggle home school with work.

You cannot smell fragrances via Zoom! So there are some logistical challenges. We have kept Fedex healthy!

What is the most positive aspect you see coming out of this situation in terms of work?

Crises bring out the best in most people. All the little things that we waste too much time on are forgotten and we all focus on what’s really important. I also think we will reinvent the role of live meetings in the future to be far more time efficient and effective and will only hold live meetings when absolutely necessary. This was a real wake up call for all of us in fragrance but I am convinced we will come out of it even stronger. The now accepted balancing of working between home and the office will raise motivation and productivity and lower commute costs, waste less time and less crowded rush hours leading to less pollution. Cities will become much more livable longer term. 

How have you seen consumer habits change during this stay home time?

Obviously staying at home has changed many behaviors. The question is what will stick once we are out and what will be forgotten? We will mostly go back to similar habits but there is no doubt that consumers will enjoy more than ever the freedom to be outside and away from crowds. They will also invest more in their homes to create their even more special place and fragrance will play a significant role in that.

HOME FRONT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE SILVER LININGS OF WFH

HOME FRONT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE SILVER LININGS OF WFH The Fragrance Foundation Board of Directors Meeting – January 2020
Scents and Sensibility

HOME FRONT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE SILVER LININGS OF WFH

HOME FRONT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS ON THE SILVER LININGS OF WFH The Fragrance Foundation Board of Directors Meeting – January 2020

Like everyone, Fragrance Foundation board members have been adjusting to working from home, and finding new ways to spend their free time while social distancing. Here, Accords asks them to reflect on the silver linings—from having more family time to learning to cook—that they have discovered in their time away from the office.  

Marc Blaison, EVP, Cosmo International Fragrances

In what ways have you benefited from staying home and slowing down? 

We were lucky in the sense that our offices and factory remained open. And living in Florida, you don’t feel the same “lockdown” effect: space, garden, weather … Other benefits were: having our 2 girls back home from college, so definitely family time, some cooking (could share some recipes), gardening, reading, and relaxing! 

Penny Coy, Vice President Merchandising, Fragrance and Prestige Skincare, Ulta Beauty

What shows are you currently binging?   

Tik Tok has taken over TV for me and my family!  OMG before you realize, a half hour, hour goes by.  And we are seeing sales climb unexpectedly because a product showed up organically on this channel. 

Diane Crecca, SVP, Arcade Beauty

What shows are you currently binging?

Ozark—THE BEST SHOW.  The writing was pure genius, it’s the on-the-edge-of your-seat stuff you cannot turn off.

In what ways have you benefited from staying home and slowing down?

My cooking has gone from practically inedible, to “not bad”. I even understand a few of the cooking shows, which I used to put in the same category as watching golf on TV. Good background noise for nap time!

What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know pre-quarantine?

I have discovered that I like to talk back to the TV. It’s great therapy and gives me satisfaction – so there!

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time?

One ritual I enjoy is watering my plants—I was known as the Grim Reaper of the plant word a year ago. I actually felt sorry for the plants I bought because they were headed for a slow torturous end. Now I can actually keep them alive and thriving!

Describe your ideal first day post-quarantine.

I am having a backyard barbeque—even if people have to wear snow boots. Nothing hits the spot like a grilled hot dog!

Maria Dempsey, CEO, Nest Fragrances

What shows are you currently binging?

Loving Nashville (we have watched over 60 episodes!), Normal People, Billions

In what ways have you benefited from staying home and slowing down?

I have been able to be more creative, to take time for myself and my family, to get back into cooking. I feel like I have a lot more time and am much more productive with my time.

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time?

I need to exercise and meditate every day in order to stay sane! 

Describe your ideal first day post-quarantine.

Meet up with friends, eat at a restaurant and ride the bus in NYC!

 Pierre Desaulles, CEO, Interparfums

What shows are you currently binging?

Money Heist on Netflix. Robbing a bank while being the good guy and being incredibly smart… Who does not want that? I watch only in Spanish—subtitles allowed—to get the savory and witty smell of Spain.

Also Versailles on Netflix. When history fascinates with romance, intrigues and spirits!

In what ways have you benefited from staying home and slowing down?

Unfortunately I did not slow down at all, quite the opposite. However I could share meals with my family and spend some quality time with them (even if it is sad to need this to make this statement).

What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know pre-quarantine?

That I play UNO well and I can actually handle multitasking.

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time?

Being down to earth and just opening my eyes to see how lucky I am. That is worth all the mental support in the world.

Describe your ideal first day post-quarantine.

I would love to do a Flashmob with my team in the office to Elton John’s I’m Still Standing! And then go back to my office routine that I love!

Nata Dvir, SVP/ General Business Manager at Macy’s – Beauty & Center Core

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time?

I try to schedule my day to allow for a run in the park in the morning or a virtual pilates class. I love that I now can build in a little me time during the day and be just as efficient. I find it helps me focus for the rest of the day.

I also try and shut down my computer and put it away and make a complicated dinner. I have cooked every meal for the last 8 weeks! It allows me to keep my hands occupied and away from the email.

Julien Gommichon, President Americas, Diptyque & BYREDO

What shows are you currently binging? 

Hollywood, Explained

What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know pre-quarantine?

Better control of stress and pressure, re prioritizing what is essential/less essential in life.

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time?

Bike riding out of home; playing games with kids in the evening (vs video and tablets).

Describe your ideal first day post-quarantine.

Reconnect with friends, colleagues and go to a French bistro!

Mark Knitowski, VP Product Innovation, Victoria’s Secret

In what ways have you benefited from staying home and slowing down?

Spending more time with my family, especially with my daughter, Sedona. We take hour-long evening walks each night, which has been great to hear her thoughts and ideas about so many things, fashion, beauty, influencers, apps, digital. Exercising, walking/running 5 miles a day.

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time? 

Playing guitar, writing songs,

Julianne Pruett, VP Fine Fragrance Sales, Symrise

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time? 

I am not sure what I would do without my daily running!  It has always been my “religion”, but even more so now, to clear my mind, take in nature, and feel physically and mentally FREE!

Jerry Vittoria, President Fine Fragrance Worldwide, Firmenich

What shows are you currently binging?

Handmaid’s Tale, just finished Ozark.

In what ways have you benefited from staying home and slowing down?

Wish I had slowed down! But not travelling has allowed me to spend more time with the family and have more actual dinners together!

What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know pre-quarantine?

I need reading glasses! Staring at the screen all day did that .I also enjoy snacking way too much. 

What routines or rituals keep you grounded and sane during this time?

Sleeping better due to less jet lag, eating healthier and more time to work out.

Describe your ideal first day post-quarantine.

In Paris, we had it…..I went to the office and air hugged several colleagues! I had missed them!

PERFUMER Q&A: SPECIAL WFH EDITION

PERFUMER Q&A: SPECIAL WFH EDITION
What The Nose Knows

PERFUMER Q&A: SPECIAL WFH EDITION

PERFUMER Q&A: SPECIAL WFH EDITION


Just as executives and business leaders have needed to redesign their approach to matters both professional and personal in the past few months, so too have perfumers, the creative beating hearts of the industry. Separated from their labs and collaborators, noses have been compelled to find new ways to smell, create, and share ideas. In this month’s Q&A, they reveal how they have found inspiration, summoned calm, and discovered fresh ways of looking at the world in the midst of it all.

Mylene Alran, Givaudan

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

I recommend Ylang-Ylang oil and Neroli oil. Ylang-Ylang oil is mainly used for its calming and relaxing properties. You can inhale it, put it on the skin (mixed in a vegetal oil like sweet almond), in your bath or simply diffuse it in your home.

Then my favorite, Neroli, is relaxing too. It provides vitality, self-confidence and can calm anxiety and fear. To me it simply brings joy. I absolutely love composing with it because it’s a very rich raw material but also a delicate one. Working on its floral green and natural freshness is so interesting.

What do you use to help de-stress?

I would say, definitely yoga and meditation. They influence your perception of yourself which affects your outlook in a positive way: by loving yourself, being confident in your body, in your talent and by letting your good energies flow. I’ve practiced for many years now, and it has helped a lot while being at-home. Additionally, especially in winter, having a bath with essential oils is another helpful way to de-stress.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I think that this particular time has enabled collaborators to get closer and to increase the trust with their creative partners. That’s one of the good outcomes of this situation.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I find my inspiration in the same way as before. I can tell that nature and raw materials are my very first and greatest sources of inspiration.

 And beyond materials, is fashion. I’m always so excited to watch and admire new fashion shows―they’re immensely inspiring in discovering new fabrics and their unexpected textures. During the confinement, fashion houses have been very active on Instagram which has allowed me the opportunity to stay connected with my favorite ones!

Nicolas Beaulieu, IFF

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

Spray your favorite fragrance on your wrist—it will allow you to keep smelling it throughout your day at home

What do you use to help de-stress? 

I have a sample of Sandalwood oil New Caledonia by LMR which I love smelling. Its deep woody creamy addiction is so comforting to me

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I feel very lucky that IFF put into place a new business process which allowed me to work almost as normal in the safe and quiet environment of my Parisian apartment. Of course this lockdown affected who I am, my priorities and therefore my inspirations, but the creative process remains the same.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I feel simple things hugely gained in importance during this weird period: cooking for your loved ones, the special odor of a book, or the reassuring smell of clean laundry or hand sanitizer!

Nathalie Benareau, Symrise

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home? 

Setting up a fragrance routine is an amazing way to put fragrance back into our lives and increase our wellbeing. I use fragrance first thing in the morning to wake up my senses and right before bed to unwind to something soft and comforting.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

I love the smell of Japanese incense in my home, I find it soft and comforting as well as relaxing. The sticks are very thin so the smoke is not overwhelming and it promotes a sense of calmness. Chamomile is also quite good for relaxation as well as clary sage which is ambery and smooth.

What do you use to help de-stress?

I do an hour of yoga every morning before my family wakes up, it sets my intention for the entire day and gives me the tools to avoid stress. If I need to de-stress during the day, I bake a cake, cookies or any type of dessert with my kids, when it starts baking in the oven, the house smells delicious which always makes me happy and relaxed!

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

Working from home made me much more adventurous and daring in my creative process, I overdose on some materials I wouldn’t otherwise. I cannot waste any time and do as many trials as I would if I were at the office so I need to trust my intuition more and be more fearless. Sometimes it smells great, sometimes it’s terrible!

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal? 

I read much more, I have many art books and photography books that I had forgotten about so it’s very inspiring to look back at those. I also take walks in my neighborhood and look much more closely at what is around me, I have been living in Jersey City for 20 years but it is the first time I take the time to really see it, it’s amazing what I have discovered. I love where I live and it’s a great source of inspiration. 

Gabriela Chelariu, Firmenich

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

A favorite ingredient of mine is Tonka Bean, it’s warm and can be used to create an atmosphere that brings a sense of calm and encourages relaxation and wellbeing. I always associate it with summer because of the notes of dried grass and hay (very happy and nostalgic smells for me).  Another ingredient that helps combat stress and anxiety and brings balance is Cedarwood Oil. 

What do you use to help de-stress?

In general any fragrance I love and wear daily helps me de-stress because it brings me joy and a sense of peace and can transport me to happier times. That said, listening to music is also essential for me and sometimes dancing, even if I have to do it on my own. 

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I have become focused on crafting fragrances that bring people happiness, optimism, and promote wellbeing. This is in line with a growing desire for clean fragrances with ingredients that have benefits that go beyond ‘just smelling good’. Along with that, sustainability is becoming even more essential in today’s global situation, and something that I keep top of mind while creating scents as well.  

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I draw inspiration from my time growing up in Romania where my grandmother helped me cultivate my knowledge and love of nature. My travels around the world and the new people and things I learn from simple everyday occurrences is also a source of inspiration. As life continues to evolve, I can’t help but watch the new narrative unfold, and it influences my work greatly.

Steven Claisse, Takasago

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home? 

This is a time to look at fragrance as an opportunity to play and explore. It’s about wearing or experiencing home fragrance for yourself and not necessarily for others. For example, a way to incorporate fragrance in this new normal could be taking all your fragrances, laying them out, mixing them, and layering them. Even going on Google and learning about them. The same goes for home fragrances; take 3 candles and burn them all at once. This allows for new experiences and a sense of play, which always feels more positive. Taking this time to really explore, just as we do in cooking new recipes. This is the time to be present and bring a sense of play into our olfactive experiences.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

The phrase “stop and smell the roses” can be applied to anything that gives you a sense of pause. I personally grow Wisteria in my garden and that makes me feel relaxed. Or smelling the pine trees in my backyard, also feels very calming. It is really about the little things we take for granted and now have the time to notice, smell and explore.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

For me, during these difficult times, de-stressing means taking my mind away from the negative and going back to the small gestures that bring me joy. Sitting in my backyard at night and smoking a cigar relaxes me. It’s about creating the space to do something that brings happiness into the present moment.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation? 

Time is a luxury we now have because most of us are working from home. This has allowed me to have more time to think in new ways, try new things, new combinations of ingredients, even see olfactive experiences from a completely new perspective. I am taking this as an opportunity to broaden my horizons of creativity. 

Natasha Côté, IFF

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

My favorite way of incorporating fragrance while at home is by burning a candle, using my favorite shampoo, body lotion and even a fabric softener.  I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with different hand soaps. 

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Chamomile oil, Peppermint Oil, Spearmint Oil and Bergamot Oil are great for calm and relaxation. 

What do you use to help de-stress? 

I adore peppermint oil because it allows me to breathe better and clears my mind, or Neroli because it reminds me of being on vacation near the Mediterranean. Lastly the comforting smell of musk makes me feel peaceful and at ease.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I’m not quite sure. I will need to see what happens when we are released back into the world.  I would like to see things slow down a bit. The speed at which we were operating before, I believe, is unsustainable. 

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I’m turning within. I have more time to do yoga, cycling, reading, cooking new recipes and spending more time with my family. I feel more grounded and this allows me to relax and let the inspiration flow in a very natural way.

Jerome Di Marino, Takasago

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

At Takasago we do have specific studies regarding the effect of the smells on the brain. That’s how we can say that there is a proven relaxing effect on the brain when smelling Caraway, Olibanum, Sage or Sandalwood. 

What do you use to help de-stress? 

At home I love to burn incense, sage or Laurel leaves which helps me to create a non-stressing environment.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation? 

Creating fragrances requires time and patience, and as I work from home, I have less meetings, phone calls…which allows me to focus on the essential: smelling and working on new ideas.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

In the “new normal” I find inspiration in taste associations. I discover by cooking and baking at home. It’s the perfect moment to experiment and try out new recipes.

Jerome Epinette, Robertet

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

It’s important to try not to lose the habit! It is the same as getting dressed every morning, use fragrance and keep the routine going and it will help you feel better and will put you in a good mood. In my house, we’ve been burning more candles and using reed diffusers to create our own olfactive world. 

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

For me, vanilla and tonka bean are very soothing and cocooning. I also love blond woods like cedarwood and sandalwood. Even iso e super is really calming. Frankincense can be very relaxing for its Zen-like effect.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

I am very fortunate to have a terrace. So being outside surrounded by plants like gardenia and jasmine help me de-stress. Gardening and watering plants is very relaxing.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

The current global situation is reinforcing the fact that we need to be more careful, more sustainable and respectful of nature.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal? 

I am still finding inspiration everyday living and working in New York City. I can still feel the rhythm and connectedness of the New York I’ve lived in for years. The local community has been so supportive and I find this to be so inspiring.  

John Gamba, Givaudan

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

People can incorporate fragrance into their at-home routines in an assortment of ways, by spraying different fragrances into each room to create the right mood or wearing a variety of scents at various times throughout the day―try a fresh, light scent in the morning, something green or floral in the afternoon and a more sophisticated scent like a woody amber in the evening.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

I like tea (especially green or chamomile) and vanilla for relaxation.

What do you use to help de-stress?

A little Eucalyptus Tea or Eucalyptus Mint will do the trick while sipping a nice Pinot Noir.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I’ve been appreciating the smell of the outdoors. Working in the garden now is an olfactive delight, you get to experience and take in your surroundings in a different way. I’m trying to make the most out of these new opportunities. 

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

Since we are all quarantined I spend a lot of time online. There are so many virtual tours of places I have never been. Music is also inspirational while taking long walks and stepping back to smell the roses…

Pascal Gaurin, IFF

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

I have several fragrance diffusers set up in my house and it allows me to evaluate the fragrance I’m currently working on. It is a great way to change the mood inside your home. I think wearing your favorite fragrance or discovering new ones, even if you do not go outside, is still very important to lift your spirit.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

As a person who is easily affected by anxiety, I have learned over the years that the best way to keep stress in check is to establish a very strict and healthy routine. It allows me to stay focused, calm and productive while keeping those around me sane. Stress and creativity are rarely compatible.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I always try to find the positive even in the most negative situation. Extreme situations push you to get out of your comfort zone and discover territories you would not have necessarily thought about or had the time to explore.

As a creator I am mostly inspired by people around me. As good as communication via screen can be, you are still missing some emotions that only the subtlety of body language can deliver. The current situation has forced me to reevaluate the way I am interacting with those I care for and connect with an emotional level.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

Inspiration is all around us if you care to look for it.

Today, first responders are probably the most inspirational people you can think of. Reading biographies of artists I admire also helps me understand their creative process and how they manage to find solutions when faced with challenges. I am currently reading the biography of Ridley Scott. Steve Lukather’s biography will follow.

Gwen Gonzalez, Givaudan

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Notes of jasmine, neroli and cypress are very useful for relieving anxiety and inducing relaxation. Cedarwood, sandalwood and litsea cubeba are beneficial for promoting calm. I also find vetiver and patchouli very grounding and balancing.

What do you use to help de-stress?

The peaceful aroma of Palo Santo is a favorite of mine; it’s very de-stressing for me. I burn the wood to fill a room or wear the essential oil combined in a fragrance. I also use a diffuser with sound and scent which is not only de-stressing but also helps me sleep and gently wakes me up.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

On a larger scale, the ingenuity, kindness and sacrifice I see emerging all over the world is truly inspiring. On a smaller scale, I’m finding inspiration and comfort in cooking. Whether I’m following a proper recipe or improvising on the spot, I have the time now to really experiment with spices I’ve discovered while traveling. Creating flavors both foreign and familiar—reviving happy memories of different times and places. I’m making much bolder alterations on recipes, simplifying a technique or perfecting a family classic like my mom’s creole gumbo recipe.

Alexis Grugeon, Firmenich

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

Fragrance can be a key way to maintain a sense of normality in your daily life (especially during these uncertain times). Maintaining the habit of perfuming yourself every day, or of lighting a favorite candle is a great way to enhance and create an “at home routine”, by surround yourself with your favorite scents. It’s also a great moment to explore new ambient scents and match them with your current mood or activity as well!

What do you use to help de-stress? 

Taking a break from the news, and focusing on my work and wellbeing has been very helpful. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love, and to help people find balance and happiness in their own lives as well through the power of scent!

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

My notion of time being extremely valuable has enhanced my appreciation for how I spend it during this pandemic. It’s been nice to take the time I need to think, explore and create; it’s helped make me more innovative and efficient. Right now I am able to really focus and dive deep into each project I’m working on. 

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

My network of inspiration has definitely changed. Whereas before it was very much based on social interactions and exploring New York City, it’s now shifted to be about personal experimentation and intellectual exploration.

Richard Herpin, MANE

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

Right now we need scents for comfort, for remembering good times and escaping.  Also, working from home may give people freedom to wear scents that they don’t allow themselves to wear as often as they might like.  I hope people are taking advantage of this time to wear whatever makes them feel good—and I don’t just mean pajamas! 

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Aromatherapy is part physiology and part Pavlov:  what do you personally associate with an aroma. Any fragrance that makes you feel calm–it can be incense, patchouli, it can be something far from obvious and intensely personal. 

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation? 

This is a time for simple gestures of kindness, for caring for your loved ones. Being able to enjoy and be grateful now puts me in the right frame of mind. I’m having vivid dreams and memories of the past, so I can dig deeper.  In my work, I’m focusing on what is essential.  I find myself writing shorter, simpler formulas.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I try to focus on some positive things that are happening in the middle of difficult things. The city is quiet; the air is clean; around the world, the environment shows signs of healing. Here in America, you always feel that something new is coming, the way America has reinvented itself, again and again— we’ve all had to adapt, we will continue to adapt. I choose to embrace positive, feel-good fragrances.

Jacques Huclier, Givaudan

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

With limited social interaction, it’s important to continue to wear our favorite fragrances. They keep us grounded and give us pleasure. 

Staying home also gives us more time for rediscovering smells: fruits on the table, spices in the kitchen, flowers on our balconies, books in the bookcase…everything has a smell, let’s take this time to play and enjoy them!

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender? 

Personally, the smells of vanilla, chocolate and caramel bring me a sense of calmness and relaxation. They are warm and comforting, and remind me of my childhood when my mother made delicious pastries on Sunday mornings.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

My best remedy to de-stress is to open the window, smell the fresh air or to jump outside and breathe in the plants and flowers―with all the components their smells are so rich and reconnect me to nature, to reality.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation? 

My creative process has definitely changed. I take more time in the exploration of my ideas, looking for the right balance or the best contrast solely from my experience and memory. I’ve also been finding inspiration in several ways: reading, watching documentaries, trying new things and exchanging points of view with friends.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

In closing my eyes, dreaming about a better world with new smells for happiness and optimism. Thinking about the world I will rediscover soon, I imagine what we would like to smell next…imagination is key!

Christelle Laprade, Symrise

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

I love to spray something fresh on my pillow from time to time. Planting is also a nice way to incorporate scents into our lives in the most natural way, basil, rosemary, thyme, lavender, spearmint can bring the outdoors in.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?   

For me Sandalwood transports me to a calming place. Its subtle creamy milky woody tones give me a feeling of cocooning.

What do you use to help de-stress?  

I try to exercise every other day to help me calm down. Being able to work and continue to create is also essential in preserving my sanity.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I want my fragrances to be even more transporting as we are all stuck indoors. I also made a promise to myself to travel more when we are able to again and get inspired by all the beautiful things the world has to offer.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal? 

In my dreams 🙂  

Maïa Lernout, Takasago

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

For my home I like to burn dried leaves of white sage. It purifies the air. Shaman and yogi used it to clarify the mind and remove negative thoughts. 

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Sweet orange essential oil is also well known to calm down the mind and bring comfort. If you don’t have it at home, you can just squeeze some fruit peels and put the drops of oil inside your wrist. This point in Chinese medicine is called the serenity’s door. It is the point on the same line as the little finger below the wrist fold. If you activate this point, it can bring joy and soothe fears or anxiety.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

I practice yoga and meditation almost every day, I read a lot and I like to paint watercolors.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I am often looking to my childhood memories to find inspiration or connect to peaceful or joyful moments I am trying to share through my creation. Books or people could also inspire me to create some ideas.

 Domitille Michalon-Bertier, IFF

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

There are so many different ways to bring scent into your home: soap for your hands, laundry detergent to wash your fabric and liquid soap for your dishes, candles, a powder spray in the vacuum cleaner, foam bath in your bathroom, and most importantly, your fine fragrance, like a comforting blankie, or with its extension line products: body lotion, hair spray… You can also scent your sweaters with your fragrance before putting them away in your closet. 

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

I connect orange flower to relaxation and calm, a reassuring childhood memory, with 3 drops in hot water. Cedarwood is equally reassuring, as sturdy as a tree. I associate lavender with the cleanliness of laundry, a reminiscence from a laundry room with a cupboard full of clean linen sheets and a lavender sachet in a corner.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

Breathing is an essential part of life. Every single morning, all year long, I open wide all my apartment windows, and bring in the fresh wind, which sometimes even slams the doors shut. And when stress rises, I try a few calm and long breaths while facing the sun.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I’ve been able to take time to think, and don’t need to respond to everything in the minute. Preserving my secret garden is of utmost importance to me, in French we say: “pour vivre heureux, vivons caches,” translated roughly as “to live happy, live in hiding”! In my creative thinking, I like to diverge, and use very diverse idea associations, then converge and bring it all together after the night’s dreams.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

My inspiration always comes from daily life: cooking, art shows, books, films, travels and my own memories. I’m also very inspired by my interactions with others, and my children. A project, a customer brief, is also of great inspiration for me.

Alexandra Monet, Firmenich

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

Fragrance can help people to feel better in many ways. Smelling a fragrance that someone you love wears (and you’ve not seen for a while) can generate a strong emotion, making you feel closer to this person. Perfumes have an ability to transport you, without having to travel anywhere! 

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Wearing or smelling a fragrance that you were using during a particularly happy period of your life can help aid in feelings of relaxation and calmness.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

For me, undertones of musk help me de-stress because they are very comforting, warm and reassuring.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

Creating fragrance is about tapping into emotions. I try to experiment with the emotion of empathy as much as I can, and to try to imagine what scent and ingredients profile would make a person feel joy, security and accomplishment.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal? 

Currently, my memories serve as the best source of inspiration for me. I like to think of pleasant and happy times I’ve had throughout my life, and the scent that accompanies those moments, to translate them into a fragrance.  

Pierre Negrin, Firmenich

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

To me, relaxation comes from ingredients that help to soothe you, they are soft, warm and creamy notes. Any scent that brings you back to your childhood and reminds you of pleasant memories helps to relax your soul.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

I tend to cook a lot, as it helps me explore flavorful raw ingredients and new combinations of spices, aromatic herbs and fruits.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

Due to social distancing, I think people are trending in the direction of wanting and needing more powerful fragrances to help them overcome certain strong emotions in an uncertain climate. This shift will change the structure of my fragrances greatly, by using more potent ingredients in smaller quantities.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

A lot of my inspiration stems from my imagination. I tend to daydream and think about ways of unearthing new ingredients that have psychological benefits of wellbeing in order to present a fragrance that is more than just a beautiful scent. Moving forward, we will need fragrances that lend themselves to the notion of cleansing, sanitizing, protecting, and relaxing to help increase people’s sense of security.

Kaleigh Prokop, MANE

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

Staying home means having more opportunities to enjoy all the options for home fragrancing.  Whether it’s lighting a beautiful candle, using plug-in systems, diffusers, fragrance reeds, incense, there are so many choices. Take the time now to use your most indulgent body lotion, your favorite shampoo, all those bath products and bath salts and bubble bath that live in the linen closet.  

What do you use to help de-stress? 

Memory scents are comforting for me. The smell of Ivory dish soap and Chanel No. 5 reminds me of walking into my grandmother’s kitchen. The smell of sunscreen and Avon Skin-So-Soft reminds me of childhood summers; Bath & Body Works has a candle called The Perfect Summer that really captures a moment like this.  Cooking for me has really been a great de-stressor. . .there’s nothing less stressful than the smell of sizzling sausage and peppers!

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation? 

I’m more in my own head now:  you have to rely on imagination and memory, and find inspiration from within. As a perfumer, when you are formulating you usually have an idea of what your creation will smell like, but now I have to wait for the lab to send it to me. It’s not as immediate, and sometimes there’s a real surprise. I’m dosing ingredients differently, and coming up with some cool new directions.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I’ve always gotten a lot of inspiration from market products, restaurants, bars and fashion. That has all gone away for the moment, so I’ve shifted my focus to more simple ways to create. I have been cooking almost non-stop, I’m painting watercolors, and sewing. I have been taking baths with different products to try and relax. Reading has always been a place to go to and I am noticing now, more than ever, the way that scent is described in books and how it supports the story.  I’m inspired by whatever brings me joy, peace, and escape. For me, that’s summer days, the beach, easy clean floral scents that remind me of vacations I’ve spent with friends and family. Trying to recreate scents from those memories has been very helpful.

Erwan Raguenes, Firmenich

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

Candles are a fantastic way to experience consistent fragrance notes throughout your home. Burning destination scented candles in different rooms can help you transition from one mood or atmosphere into another. It’s a new way to ‘travel’ while staying safe at home. 

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

I find that Chamomile and Jasmine are extremely relaxing scents…they are warm, and have the ability to soothe.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

Personally, I am partial to burning Sandalwood candles to create a warm, woody, creamy and comforting space. Likewise, Vanilla and Sandalwood notes are a lush combination that wrap around you like a cozy blanket.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I find that currently it’s less about ‘pushing the boundaries’ or experimenting, and more about creating a sense of nostalgia, content and reassurance in the fragrances I craft. Gourmand scents need to be more sentimental, while fruity and citrus notes need to be brighter and bolder than ever before.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

I’ve been researching old recipes, and watching the food creations people have been cooking and showcasing on social media. Additionally, I have been digging up past references, accords and trends that I can tweak and modernized to fit the new needs of people globally.

Donna Ramanauskas, Robertet

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

People can take this time to focus on the fragrances that are present in their homes. Whether it’s starting your day with an invigorating scented body wash or lighting a gourmand scented candle while in your home office, it’s a reminder of the role that scent can play in uplifting our moods on a daily basis.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Being a fanatic for any fragrance that lends itself to rose notes, I find rose absolute to be extremely calming.

What do you use to help de-stress?

During these chaotic times, I find myself reaching for fragrances that transport me to the holidays (even though it’s spring). The holiday season always has a way of lifting my spirits, so recently I have been burning a lot of fir balsam candles. 

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

Due to the current situation, the freedom we once had to interact and brainstorm with colleagues face to face has unfortunately changed. However, that has not altered our passion for what we do. If anything, it has been a reminder of how important fragrance is across all applications. 

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

My family recently started our own garden (which is a trend I think many are taking part in). I am looking forward to having a variety of herbs and vegetables at our fingertips and getting to experience the fresh aromas that accompany each individual plant.

 Catherine Selig, Takasago

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home? 

People can incorporate fragrances into their daily routine in a holistic way which can serve to stimulate their olfactive senses and elevate their mood. Simply spraying a little fragrance on your hand before or after a meal, on yourself after a bath or even just lighting a scented candle before meditation can go a long way to stimulate your senses and put you into a better frame of mind.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Personally, I really like rose because it promotes focus and helps you become more grounded.  Rose can also serve as a vehicle to connect you to the earth.  I also like citrus bright energy because I always found it helps clear your mind and enables you to be present in the moment.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation? 

I start my work early, no later than 7.30am.  Starting early enables me to have the time to let my creativity flow at his own pace without being pressured by a timeline. 

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

Mostly by being more in tune with the nature around me, staying focused on the essential, unlocking my imagination during my meditation sessions and by experimenting new cooking recipes.

 Florie Tanquerel, Cosmo International Fragrances

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

It is a good time to take care of ourselves so why not recreate a body care routine which can help bring escapism at home.. as we can’t travel! for example using a shower gel with a fruity exotic fragrance with a blend of mango and coconut which can refer to India, or a body butter with a fresh and energizing aromatic note from a spa in Bali !

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

I would say the chamomile which is for me very relaxing with its sweet herbal note. And the orange flower that I love because it reminds me the south of France (my birthplace)  for its delicate floral orangey and honey scents.

What do you use to help de-stress? 

In my case, to destress I can use a special incense coming from India in with notes of olibanum, cashmere wood and sensual musk! And it gives me a peaceful mindset during my yoga practice and meditation!

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I would say, now more than ever I bring more pride, happiness, positivity and love in my creations.

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal?

Social media, especially Instagram, is a tool that I use for creativity and to get connected globally. You can always get inspired with beautiful pictures from places, food and people from all around the world.  For now, I would say that I am obsessed with watching the posts from a famous French woman chef Anne Sophie Pic (3 Michelin stars). She gives me ideas and inspirations to pair ingredients from her cooking i.e a pie with rhubarb and tarragon,  a fresh mango with a confit jasmine ice cream, and succulent dessert with coffee, passion fruit, topped with ginger and black pepper!

Carlos J. Viñals, Symrise

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

Starting the day with your go-to fragrance and then following at night with a new special occasion fragrance even though the occasion is watching Netflix again is important and can spark newness into each day.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?   

Ingredients that can promote calm for most are known to be lavender, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Incense etc. I believe notes that can bring you to your comfort zone these days can simply be smells from the home like coffee brewing, dinner cooking, pastries in the oven and candles burning. There’s no place like home!

What do you use to help de-stress?  

Well I won’t lie that it’s too easy to turn to another glass of wine to de-stress and I’m sure most are feeling the same. I really try to focus on a daily balance of work, hard exercise, walking the dogs and the most important is “PIM”, popcorn ice cream and a movie with the wife.

How has or will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

While my creative process hasn’t changed that much these days because I use my experience to approach each development the same.  

Where are you finding your inspiration in the new normal? 

My inspirations have changed since they are not live because I’m so isolated so the best source is….wait for it….internet!  Yes I admit it’s the most powerful resource tool and since I can’t go out the world comes to me.

THE (STAY HOME) INSIDE SCOOP

THE (STAY HOME) INSIDE SCOOP Illustration by: Rebecca Moses
The Inside Scoop

THE (STAY HOME) INSIDE SCOOP

THE (STAY HOME) INSIDE SCOOP Illustration by: Rebecca Moses

Illustration by: Rebecca Moses @rebeccamosesofficial

We are proud to publish this special edition of Accords, which offered TFF members the opportunity to share both professional and personal stay home experiences and inspiration. We will continue to ask for your input so that TFF communication continues its two way dialogue.

On a personal note, I too have made some self discoveries. AM is coffee time and PM is wine time. I can actually enjoy cooking chez nous with my husband and secure a table without a reservation. I have read books that would normally be stacked to pack on vacation and have watched meaningful films and television shows, counterbalanced by Schitt’s Creek. Fragrance has personally been my guiding light. Personal fragrances bring major joy and differentiate the days and evenings. Soaps, essential oils, and lotions, enhance all cleansing routines and every day cooking ingredients are the backdrop for candles and diffusers. 

The contributors to this special edition of Accords prove that we are truly a united community. While we are confined in ways we never would want to be, we have become more self aware and inspired, which will hopefully benefit us in the long term. The positive outcome of this extraordinarily difficult time will be how we emerge more resilient, better connected to all of the people in our lives and have clarity on the priorities that will guide us forward.

Please share your feedback on this issue and your interest in future content. We want to stay connected in scent and spirit with you all!

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Apr

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES Photo by Kelly Taub/BFA
Spotlight

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES Photo by Kelly Taub/BFA

When Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy first encountered internationally renowned designer and artist Rebecca Moses, it was a meeting of scent-loving spirits and like minds. On a studio tour, Levy saw illustrations that Moses had done inspired by the island of Capri—particularly by its enchanting Mediterranean scents—and a grand idea was hatched: that Moses would bring her whimsy and exuberant talent to International Fragrance Day 2020 by creating a series of artworks depicting seven different aromatic profiles as highly individual (and fashionable) women. These enchanting images were unveiled at the Italian Trade Commission in February and will continue to bring color and delight to Fragrance Foundation events and communications, even as the year unfolds quite differently from what anyone had planned.

Moses’s response to the pandemic has been, beautifully, expressed through her artwork: She has created a new series of illustrations she calls The Stay Home Girls, each devoted to how a different woman is coping with the crisis, or finding bright moments where she can. Posted daily on Instagram, the works have galvanized a support system, opening up a network for women all over the world to share their stories and bond together in commiseration and in hope. Here, Moses talks about the power of art, her journey with fragrance, and the importance of putting good energy into the world—now, and always.  

What sparked the idea for the Stay Home Girls?

When the pandemic hit, most of my projects came to an end — they were canceled or put on a back burner, and I didn’t know what the future was. So, I had to create a project. I felt extraordinarily helpless not doing anything. I wanted to help people. I started creating these women, just sort of around the stories I was hearing. Some friends were reflecting on why they still bothered to put makeup on in the morning, others decided they would foster a dog, another said they started playing cards. After a certain point I had done about 30 creative ones that weren’t far from the truth, but they weren’t specific people. Then one night I was on the phone with a girlfriend of mine who is a brilliant lawyer and works for the state, and she told me about being home every day doing these Zoom conferences with five cats around her, and I just thought—this is a real story, I need to make these real stories. I started reaching out to a few people, and then it was like wildfire. I started getting letters and letters. Some of them are really heart-breaking. I go on video every couple of days to talk to the girls and tell them how remarkable they are, and they’ve kind of become a support group for each other. It just keeps growing. Now I paint all day long. I try to do four paintings a day. It’s a marathon. I’ve done 65 so far, and I just want to keep doing it.

Why do you think the Stay Home Girls have resonated so much?

It doesn’t really matter what we do, what our social status is, what our income is, what our ethnicity is, where we live, this is a global pandemic. It affects everyone. We’re all at a common crossroads. And I think that women want to relate to other women and hear what’s going on in their lives. Sometimes thinking about someone else’s problems makes your problems not look so serious. It can give you comfort. And even if it’s through social media – it gives you immediate comfort.

What has it meant to you personally?

If it can make a difference in one person’s life, then I’ve fulfilled my mission. It makes women feel proud to be illustrated, they love to be shared, there’s a common denominator that’s in all of us, and we all need hope. It’s been probably one of the most awesome things I’ve ever done. It gives me oxygen every day. It gives me hope. I think our lives will never be the same after this, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be better.

Let’s talk about how you shifted away from being a fashion designer. When did you begin to focus more on art?

After living in New York and getting the crazy idea of starting my own business, I fell in love, and I moved to Italy in 1992. I became the creative director of Gruppo Genny, which was a big deal for me, being young and American. But later, after I lost my husband, I decided to move back to New York, because it was so painful living there without him. When I got to New York, I started to do a lot more in the arts and with illustration, working with Italian Vogue and Marie Claire. All of a sudden, my life changed. Sometimes you don’t know what your road will be, but you just go with it.

How would you describe your illustration style?

I like to animate women. I like to make them larger than life. I like them to have personality and an attitude. It’s not about beauty in traditional terms. I did a big exhibition in 2016 called Imperfectly Perfect. The whole concept was that beauty today is so different from beauty of 10 years ago, and definitely from the beauty ideas that I was raised with. You can be so unconventional in your look, and in the way you express yourself. We all have things about us that are unique, some call it an oddity, some call it an imperfection. But to me those are the strengths that define us. Whether it’s the way we talk with our hands, whether it’s a certain look in the eye, whether it’s our approach to things. That’s what I like to communicate in the women that I create. It’s about telling a story through one woman, and I think being able to do that is so important. If I had to advise young creators, I’d tell them what they really need to do is master the art of storytelling.

You accomplished that so beautifully in your work for the Fragrance Foundation for Fragrance Day. 

Yes, it was a really natural project for me. The idea was to tell a story about something so important in the fragrance industry — the concept of what notes are. How do we illuminate what they are, how do we celebrate them, how do we show an emotion in each one?

What was your starting point for each one?

When Linda gave me this fabulous project, I thought, ‘oh, this is so much fun!’, I began to think about how there are profiles to people who choose certain notes. It’s all about how you express yourself. The first one I did was Floral [Click here to see all the Fragrance Day Artwork]. I wanted to make her the most regal woman in town, like she really did just come out of Versailles. I imagined music carrying her along in her beautiful rose skirt, and her crown of tuberose. Then, when I thought about Sweet notes, I saw cotton candy and vanilla and caramel, and I thought about someone who liked to have a good laugh. Someone who could wear a coconut bra, and really embrace a joke. Woody is very sophisticated. She’s savvy and she takes herself pretty seriously. To me, patchouli and amber are very seductive notes, so I saw her as someone a bit mysterious. Spicy has a zip to her — she’s not intimidated by anything. She has no trouble being feisty, and kind of kooky. Citrus has a cleanness and a brightness about her, a zest, and I did twins for fruit because I wanted them to be comical and vivacious. Lastly, for Fresh, I wanted somebody who was really celebrating life. Someone who could just be effortless. When you smell something fresh it takes away the tension. Think about the smell of basil and the sea and green notes. Isn’t there something that just makes you want to breathe in and sigh?

How did you approach the animations?

It was just about taking the girls and setting them to music and bringing them to life. It was so much fun! To see Fresh with the turtles swimming around her ankles, and Citrus with her lemons dancing. We wanted to add a little bit of something that would give you even more insight to who this lady is. But I think what’s unique about what we’re doing is that we’re bringing together fashion, beauty, style, fragrance, music, and color — all of these different forms of expression — to celebrate a note.

What do you want people to get from your work?

I like to make people smile. The feel-good factor is very important to me. I think that we all have a responsibility to put good energy into the world. We all have a responsibility to be kind to each other. And if I can use the gifts that I have to lift people out of their troubles, then I’ve done my job.

How does it feel to be such a big part of the Fragrance Foundation’s mission to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance?

I think that Linda is very visionary. She realizes that in order to move the fragrance industry forward, we need to tell stories and bring more art forms into the fragrance world. It’s a huge thing to help people understand that there’s a true art form here, and to celebrate and share information and educate the consumer. I feel so honored to be a part of it.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE TOGETHER: LINDA G. LEVY

MAKING A DIFFERENCE TOGETHER: LINDA G. LEVY Photo by: Michael Avedon
Scents and Sensibility

MAKING A DIFFERENCE TOGETHER: LINDA G. LEVY

MAKING A DIFFERENCE TOGETHER: LINDA G. LEVY Photo by: Michael Avedon

As this challenging time continues, we at The Fragrance Foundation are focused on what we can do for our community as a team, and as individuals. Our collaboration for many months with the extraordinary artist and designer Rebecca Moses resulted in a magnificent campaign, focused on 7 ingredient ladies for Fragrance Day on March 21. For TFF and all of us in March, we took a sharp turn away from our big dreams and immediately created an alternative “Plan B.”  Fragrance Day will be back next year when we can all celebrate together around the globe.

As for Rebecca Moses, she has once again put her heart, soul, and extraordinary creativity into a new and unexpected creation. Rebecca has authored all on her own in her studio home, a social media campaign filled with exceptional beauty and content named “The Stay Home Girls.” The self-written stories of girls staying home around the globe are being sent to Rebecca directly and the results are phenomenal. Each girl’s portrait by Rebecca captures their essence in their homes. Please visit @rebeccamosesofficial and join this movement. I am honored and proud to be included [View Illustration Here], as well as these girls on our TFF team, Alissar, Sharne, April Long, our editor and TFF member Shalini, so far.

We are also proud that so many in our fragrance world and related industries are contributing aid and support in so many ways: production of sanitizers, masks, hospital equipment, medical supplies, food and financial donations on a global and local basis. There is a tremendous amount being done and even more to do, so to recognize and applaud all of these tremendous efforts, we have created #TFFCommunityDoingGood in our social media with ongoing communication of these valiant efforts.

We also pivoted our communication to focus our TFF social media on the benefits of fragrance as we work from home and stay home. Much of the population considered home fragrance and personal fragrances a pure luxury, and at times it may be. However, now we find our family, friends and even ourselves wanting to enjoy every moment at home with our sense of smell a source of comfort and enjoyment. Follow us @fragrancefoundation.

As stores are closed, most launches and planned events are postponed, or converted into virtual experiences, our industry is recalibrating the business. We need to reinvent all we do and take advantage of this time to think creatively how to re-enter the world which will have a new “normal.” Flexibility, agility and strategic decision making have reached a new level for all in our new daily routines. Our consideration and sensitivity to this global health crisis for all must be in the balance too.

Together we must join forces and use our resources to plan how we will engage the newly defined consumer. The time we have now is like no other time before, so education of our teams and spreading positivity daily is key to our current status and our future.

I used to have a saying: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable.” Now I think it best to find the place you can be the most comfortable possible, and be sure that every day you appreciate those in your life and spread positivity. Although we are all challenged, together we will emerge stronger, more resilient and hopefully better than we were before.

PERFUMERS’ Q&A: A NEW PERSPECTIVE

What The Nose Knows

PERFUMERS’ Q&A: A NEW PERSPECTIVE

FRANK VOELKL, FIRMENICH

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

I very much enjoy wearing fragrance while I’m at home; I think it can be a positive and comforting experience for anyone. It’s actually easier to apply a fragrance than to get dressed for the day. Candles and room sprays and any other form of home fragrances also enhance the experience of being confined, allowing us to be carried away or to travel through scent. It is certainly one effect that fragrance can have on us: to escape and be transported to a different place or next to a certain person.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

Beyond lavender there are other ingredients known to make you feel grounded and give you inner peace and balance, like sandalwood or vetiver, for example. Personally, I have always been intrigued by the duality of musk, with its clean connotation, as well as its warm, sensual aspect, which could be a good combination these days.

What home products do you use to help de-stress?

There are a couple of candles that I have developed for brands like Le Labo, Otherland, Bath and Body Works, Aerin Lauder or Boy Smells, for example, that I like to use in my home, and there are, of course, always those that I’m currently working on that you will be able to discover in the near future. They all take me to special places and help me think of a bright and hopeful future.

How will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I have always been fascinated by Virtual Perfumery. Working remotely means that I cannot smell every fragrance I create myself or sometimes only with a long delay. Being in this situation as a perfumer means that your way of thinking shifts; you sometimes formulate in a more daring way, and sometimes actually, less. No matter what, we all have an opportunity to create fragrance in an unprecedented way with unprecedented results.  

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I particularly like to work with woods. For me, woods create a link to nature, and often add an organic effect in a fragrance. I use woods as an anchor in my creations.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

Mostly, it’s a pleasant surprise and quite rewarding.

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on?

This is an exact quote that I recently received from a woman:

“The perfume is wonderful. It is the only scent I have ever found addictive. You know the feeling of getting ready for a situation where you know you are going to get laid? It gives me that feeling.”

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be?

I think that would have to be the smell of my loved ones. 

Favorite non-perfume smell?

I love the smell of a forest, and I love how it changes in different seasons throughout the year.

Another favorite smell is the ocean; I love being able to smell the ocean before even seeing it.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

It would be the ability to read people’s minds.

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be?

Comfort.

If you could tell the world anything about fragrance, what would it be?

A fragrance you wear is first of all a choice you make for yourself and your own wellbeing, and for your own comfort.

NATALIE GRACIA-CETTO, GIVAUDAN

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

If you already wear perfume for your own pleasure, there is nothing to change in your daily routine, but it may be an opportunity to try new perfumes or alternate fragrances to give another tone to your day.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

The essences of cistus, eucalyptus, frankincense, neroli and pine, for example, are known for their relaxing properties.

What home products do you use to help de-stress?

I spray ginger essence in my living room and neroli essence on my pillow when I go to bed. I also use a diffuser (exclusive to Givaudan, Phytogaïa) which reproduces the beneficial stress-relieving effects of a Japanese forest.

How will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

I work on ideas proactively and imagine accords on clean olfactory territories and new naturalnesses, then try to transform them into smell (the first breath of fresh air in the morning in the countryside, the wind in the birch trees…)

What are a few of your favorite notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance(s)?

I really like tonka bean for its warm, sensual notes and gourmand edge.  I’ve used it in large quantities in the oriental accords of Burberry Brit. Then there’s jasmine absolute from Egypt, a smell from my childhood that I used in Blond Jasmine by Carolina Herrera. It’s truly difficult to choose because every ingredient has its own magic.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created? 

It’s so nice to witness someone wearing a fragrance I’ve created; it inspires an immediate connection and understanding for the other person, even when they’re a stranger to you. 

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on? 

An instinctive laugh after smelling a hazelnut accord I created. It’s a very beautiful memory!

If you could smell only one thing until the end of time, what would it be?

That’s a sad question because it would be the end of the world of perfume.

Favorite non-perfume smell?

Fresh grated lemon peel.

Favorite meal? 

Zucchini flower fritters made by my mother.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? 

I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the cello, draw, speak Arabic and so many other things…

Do you have a secret talent? 

I’m still searching for one…

If you could use one word to describe the power of fragrance, what would it be? 

Escape. Perfume can cause you to teleport mentally and geographically.

JEAN-MARC CHAILLAN, IFF

How can people incorporate fragrance into their routine when staying home?

When staying at home, I like to use eau de cologne or something very light, citrusy and fresh, especially during spring or summer. It is refreshing and gives me energy! I also enjoy candles to create a different kind of ambiance.

What are some ingredients used to promote calm and relaxation, other than the most talked about ones like lavender?

We do have a tool at IFF that measures moods which tells us that musk and vanilla along with lavender are ingredients that could bring relaxation. But more recently, IFF launched our revolutionary approach to the aromatherapy segment with the Brain Emotions™ Natural Collection where we have eight scientifically measured emotional and cognitive effects that have been associated with our natural oils. For example: Immortelle Oil was associated with brain areas involved with energy, our Vanilla Bean Co2 Extract was associated with brain areas around happiness, and our LMR Myrrh oil from Eastern Africa was associated with several brain areas involved in mindfulness. 

What home products do you use to help de-stress?

To help de-stress, I use a candle with patchouli! But this is personal to me, a favorite scent of mine. Any smell that I love or that will remind me of positive memories and experiences will help me de-stress. 

How will your creative process change due to the current global situation?

My creative process won’t change per se because I can create formulas wherever I am and I’m still just as fascinated with the world around me as ever. I have had to think more about our process of sampling and smelling and reworking fragrances and this is where we may have to be more creative with how, where, and when the formulas are safely compounded, sent to evaluation and myself for reworks, then smelling together virtually over a screen. I think that there could be a shift towards a more collectively conscious process of working, but everything is possible and we are doing it!

What are a few of your favorites notes to work with? How have you used it in a fragrance? 

Patchouli is one of my most loved ingredients with which to work. I use it when I can because it is multifaceted and even if it is “Vieux comme la Terre” (translation: old as the Earth) it always brings newness and creative opportunities. I usually start with it and build around it to see where it will take me. However, beyond singular ingredients, the Oriental fragrance family is the one I am enjoying working around the most. I love texture, richness, sensuality, and mystery which this family embraces. I love that it reflects darkness, lightness, freshness and warmth through its layers of intricate interlacing.

How does it feel to meet someone who is wearing a fragrance you created?

When I come across someone who is wearing a fragrance I have created, it makes me incredibly joyful and honored to know I am contributing to their beauty and happiness. When I think of all of the choices on the market, it is truly a moment of reflection and pause just in knowing they felt a connection to something I created.

What’s the best compliment someone has given you about a scent you worked on? 

Just the fact that people wear my fragrances is already a compliment within itself.

If you could smell only one thing until the end of the time, what would it be? 

Oh my. That is very difficult to answer. I would be very sad and can’t imagine or accept the idea of only being able to smell only one thing. Smelling is part of my everyday life so not smelling anymore would be like taking away the most important part of it. But I know that answer will not suffice for Linda Levy, so if I really had to choose one, I would choose the Mediterranean region smell since I grew up in the South of France. There is a way the earth, the sky and the sun all melt together to create something that is beautiful and unique. It is sunny and warm and it always brings light, happiness and wellbeing in my life when I am there. It is a place where I truly feel alive.

Favorite non-perfume smell? 

I have three: the fig trees in Provence, a eucalyptus forest after the rain or a pine forest under a blanket of snow.

Favorite meal? 

TRUFFLE, TRUFFLE AND TRUFFLE. I love them so much that I planted 500 truffle oak trees at my home to enjoy truffle for the rest of my life!

Fantasy dinner guest?

Leonard de Vinci or Jack the Ripper.

What is your favorite saying or expression?

I do like the conclusion of Voltaire Candide ou l’optimisme masterpiece: “Il faut cultiver notre jardin” (translation: we must cultivate our own garden) meaning we must work within our own thoughts to find the true happiness within.


THE INSIDE SCOOP

THE INSIDE SCOOP
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP

THE INSIDE SCOOP

Illustration by: Rebecca Moses @rebeccamosesofficial

This edition of Accords had to pivot, so we delayed its publication to bring relevance and unique content to you. We feature an insightful interview by April Long with our TFF creative collaborator Rebecca Moses, whose original project was The Fragrance Day, a collection of illustrations  based on scent families. Now Rebecca delivers to the world, on her own, a sense of global relevance and beauty at this difficult time. Rebecca has formed a Stay Home Girls community and movement which is inspiring!

For our Perfumers’ Q&A, we posed additional questions to 3 fabulous Perfumers who share their unique perspectives including those of the pandemic impact on their craft. 

Also, I share with you my TFF fragrance perspective based on my connection to the community. While all of us know that right now nothing seems normal, we join together to appreciate what is most important in the world: health, happiness, friends, family and the care and support for those most affected. On a lighter Accords note, please take some time off while we all stay home to enjoy visits on Instagram Lives from our creative fragrance world, light a candle, or spray a scent that transports you or creates your own sense of calm.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation

Feb

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER
Spotlight

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER

What makes a legend? In Leonard A. Lauder’s case, it’s been generosity, curiosity, and of course, genius business acumen. Working alongside his self-made woman of a mother, the indomitable Estée Lauder, and ultimately taking the reins of the biggest beauty corporation on the planet as CEO from 1982 to 1999, Leonard Lauder has always innately understood that good business begins with good relationships. Since joining Estée Lauder in 1958, he has expanded the definition of a family business to include all of those who work for, and with, the brand—supporting the success of others, and forging lifelong friendships with colleagues, beauty advisors, and fragrance suppliers along the way.

Here, the legendary executive, philanthropist, and art collector sits down with Accords to reflect on his journey at the helm of the cosmetics giant. In the first of a three-part conversation, he looks back on his mother’s game-changing, history-making impact on the fragrance industry as we know it. 

What is your first scent memory?

Well, Youth Dew was launched in 1953. It was my mother’s favorite and it attracted a huge following. And what I do remember is that in 1953, I was still at the University of Pennsylvania. I was a junior and I had just gotten a car. It was a brand-new Plymouth, powder blue, and I had a little ceremony where I christened the mud guard with a bottle of Youth Dew, but then wiped it off because I was afraid it would take off the paint. Youth Dew has been with me over these many years. Now, as it turns out, my wife Judy wears it all the time—and when I smell it on her, I smell love.

What did you learn by watching your mother’s approach to beauty when you were growing up?

That you have to love helping people feel beautiful. You have to love people. And you have to never give up.  She was persistent, and she kept on selling, selling, selling. She truly felt fragrance. She could see it.

What did Estée teach you about the fragrance business?

Again, never give up. I remember, when I first joined the company, I shared a tiny office with her, and I heard her on the phone with a man from van Ameringen, which was the predecessor to IFF. She wanted to have a Youth Dew spray, and the salesman said to her, “Estée, I’m not going to sell you this, because it’s too strong and women don’t like to smell strong.” She said, “I’ll buy it somewhere else,” and hung up. 15 minutes later, guess what? The phone rang. “Okay, we’ll sell it to you.”  It’s about believing in what you believe in, and sticking to your guns.

What do you think Estée understood about women and what they want from fragrance that others did not?

Well, like I said, she loved to make women feel beautiful. Leo Lerman, who was the editor of US Vanity Fair after it launched, was a fellow student of my mother at Newtown High School, and he remembered that she used to love making up her friends and combing their hair. You have to love beauty, and you have to love women, and she did. Which is one of the reasons why Estée Lauder has always been a company that believes in women, as customers and as employees.

There’s so much about Youth Dew that’s legendary—from its introduction as a bath oil to the moment Estée dropped it on the department store floor to draw attention to it to the character of the scent itself. What, in your opinion, was most key in Youth Dew becoming a sensation?

A few things. First of all, it smelled great and it lasted forever. And number two, the techniques of selling it were great. We sampled it and sampled it and sampled it. And when we were tired of doing that, we sampled it some more. I had just started at the company and I was in a little tiny office and I received a cosmetics buyer from Neiman Marcus. He said, “You know, every time we sample your Youth Dew bath oil, people buy it.” So I took all the money we had, which was very little, and bought something like 50,000 samples. We gave it out, and the rest is history. If the product is good, sample it.

There’s a great story about my mother. She got into a taxi to go to the Plaza Hotel for lunch and in those days, taxis didn’t have a screen between the driver and the passengers. So, the man behind the wheel said, “Mmm, you smell wonderful. I think you’re wearing Estée Lauder. All my fashionable passengers wear that.” And as my mother got out of the taxi, she said, “You know, I’m Estée Lauder.” He said, “Yeah, and I’m Cary Grant.”

What perspectives did your father bring to the fragrance side of the business?

He was always the one who helped maintain the quality, and he and my mother were partners. Basically, she was the chief creative officer and he was the chief operating officer. That’s how it worked. He was the calming influence, and he was great at that.

What were Evelyn’s insights on fragrance and why were they so important?

Evelyn had the same skills as my mother did. She dreamt fragrance and she could see fragrance. And when my mother was getting older, she called Evelyn up and said, ” Evy, I’m working on my new fragrance. Can you help me finish it?” And Evelyn went in and spent a lot of time on it, and that became Beautiful.  

When you say that they could see it, what do you mean?

I can’t explain it. My mother said, “I can see fragrance” and Evelyn said the same thing. I took them at their word.

Didn’t your mother also invent the idea of the fragrance wardrobe?

Well, as time went on, we had children. I don’t mean actual children, I mean more fragrances. We had Estée and Aliage and White Linen and so on until we had 10 or 12 fragrances. We used to do a huge business at Christmas time with a package of mini versions of all of them, called Small Wonders. But the idea for our fragrance wardrobe came from Mrs. Estée Lauder, my mother. She said, “You have to wear something different at night than what you wear during the day.” Simple, right? She was the first person to say that.

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: LEONARD A. LAUDER

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: LEONARD A. LAUDER
Scents and Sensibility

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: LEONARD A. LAUDER

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: LEONARD A. LAUDER

Always forward-thinking, Leonard A. Lauder is known for the creativity and innovation he brought to The Estée Lauder Companies, implementing successful marketing and sales strategies, and establishing the company’s first R&D laboratories. But perhaps more than anything else, Leonard Lauder emphasized the importance of listening. He went out into the field on now-legendary van trips to visit sales people around the country, and cemented close relationships within the major fragrance houses. In his estimation, no individual was less important than any other, and as a result, he built a brand distinguished by loyalty and goodwill. In the second part of his conversation with Accords, he shares why that approach was so important as Estée Lauder defined the American fragrance landscape.

How would you describe your mother’s approach to fragrance development and working with perfumers?

Firstly, she had her favorite perfumers and she worked with them all the time. She had one person in particular who was her acolyte, Karyn Khoury, and they would work and work together until a fragrance was finished. We also never used consumer studies. Once she liked it and Karyn liked it, that was it. I used to just say to Karyn, is this a good fragrance? If she said yes, we would launch it.

How have your relationships with people like Patrick Firmenich and Nicholas Mirzayantz enhanced the work you’ve done with the fragrance houses?

I have to go way back because the Estée Lauder relationship with IFF’s predecessor was with van Ameringen-Haebler. My mother had a great relationship with Arnold van Ameringen. And we became very, very friendly with the whole family and they gave us their best perfumers to work with. And then later on, as we needed to expand the number of people who are able to do fragrances for us, we started with Firmenich. It was not yet with Patrick Firmenich, it was with his father, Fred-Henri Firmenich. Now we have a great relationship with Patrick. And before Nicholas at IFF, it was a man named Tom Joy. My relationship with Nicholas is fabulous, as is the company’s.

We spend more time working with our suppliers and thanking them for their help than we do with the people we sell to. I remember our first Christmas party, and it was a party for our suppliers. And from that time on, our suppliers were at the heart of what we did and we depended on them. We’re very loyal to them.

You also had a great relationship with your sales force and retailers, going out on now-legendary van trips to make personal connections at stores. How did that make the company what it is today?

We had a great field culture. We depended not on our advertising but on the people behind the counters, our beauty advisors and consultants, to sell our products. I would always make it a point to see them on our trips. We would take van trips and I would say to everyone, you all have a vote. You’re part of a family. When we talk about work, and what’s a good thing or not, you will have a vote. So, we’d all pile into the van and go out and then at four o’clock in the afternoon, we’d have milk and cookies. Then we’d have dinner at night. And on occasion I would have a dinner for the people who are working for us the field, plus their spouses. Because I wanted to thank them for the time their spouses spent working so hard.

My late wife Evelyn was also very deeply involved with everyone. If someone got ill, she was on the phone with them. And I would also take care of them. We love the people who work for us. We love them.

What else made your approach to retailers so successful?

Well, whenever I would meet with a member of the press, my job was not to ask them to support me, my job was to give them something that they could write about that no one could read about elsewhere. My job was to help them be successful. Same thing for the retailer. My job was to make them successful also. They all had businesses to run. I was trying to help them look at us not as a vendor but as a full partner.

Now, as time went on, it became harder because the people who owned the retail companies left. They retired one by one. The companies became professionalized. But I love finding people who love to see things sold, and I love to give them things that they can sell. And I try to make all of them heroes. We would give the launch of something to a particular store, so they could say this is ours alone.

I must say, my greatest gratification was the people who worked with me and for us and the people who I befriended. And I can tell you story after story, after story, of how so-and-so assistant buyer became the CEO of a store. I kept in touch with them throughout the years and they are still my friends. We are friends forever.

What do you think makes a great fragrance launch?

You have to start off with a good product. And there’re some things I don’t want to tell you because if you write about it, I’m telling my competitors. But we made sure that the launch was important. My phrase was ‘launch strong, stay strong’. We didn’t say, let’s try it and see if it works. We just did it and sampled it and sampled it some more. We believed in our fragrances so much. Although we had advertising, the key thing was: how does it smell?

How do you view the difference between a launch of a fragrance versus makeup or skincare?

Launching a fragrance was launching the brand again. Launching makeup or skincare was launching a product. When you’re launching a fragrance, you’re relaunching Estée Lauder.

How have you seen advertising evolve?

My view of advertising was always sell the brand, not the product. Because if you sell the brand, you sell many products. You have the customer’s trust, and they’re coming back and buying more later on. Brand means everything to me.

Bitnami