Jun

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PERFUMER: CALICE BECKER

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PERFUMER: CALICE BECKER

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PERFUMER: CALICE BECKER

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PERFUMER: CALICE BECKER

June 2021

Calice Becker, the widely adored 2021 Fragrance Foundation Lifetime Achievement Perfumer Award recipient, has made the world a more beautiful place in countless ways. Her work has a signature grace, but she is also unafraid to be daring, and her singular vision has brought us such masterpieces as Dior J’Adore, Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl, and several distinctive By Kilian creations including Back to Black and Woman In Gold. The VP Perfumer is also Director of the Givaudan Perfumery School, where she shares her thoughtful approach and accumulated wisdom with the next generation.

How does it feel to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Perfumer Award?

I have many feelings. First, I think it’s incredible. Second, I’m not sure I deserve it. Third, does it mean that it’s something that is behind me? How about all of the things I still have to do, because I put myself into a lot of new projects. I’m always thinking of what’s next. So, let’s put it this way—I’m not used to this!

What made you want to be a perfumer?

I didn’t want to be a perfumer. I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to heal people. And this feeling, I still have it today, because to be compassionate and to bring good things to people, in a way, is what I do with fragrances. I was pushed into math studies because my father is a mathematician. I ended up doing an internship in an engineering company. And I said, oh God, no, never. I would never do this professionally. It was not my type of environment. That’s why my mom suggested that I become a nose. I imagined that I would be like a dog, sniffing the conditions in factories. I had no idea what a nose was. She told me, “No, it’s not about that. It’s about creating fragrances for companies like Chanel.” At the time we didn’t have the internet, so I grabbed the yellow pages. I called Chanel, and they said, “No, that won’t be possible.” I called many places and someone was nice enough to tell me that I should get in touch with one of the fragrance houses. These days, you have Wikipedia, but then you have to be very resourceful. I called the perfumery school in Versailles and they told me I needed a Masters in Chemistry, so I was just about to go buy a lab coat when I got a phone call from Roure asking me to come in for an interview. I guess I made some impression, because they hired me to enter in the perfume school in Grasse. When I started perfumery school, I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t believe that people would be paid to play with smells. I fell in love with the profession the day I began to learn it.

Did you have a mentor?

Yes. You do your studies for four years and then you work with a mentor. I had very well-known people. Dominique Ropion and Francoise Caron, who have both done so many fantastic fragrances. And then I started to fly with my own wings. I always loved what I was doing, so each time I got a promotion or a raise, I was like, “Do you think I need it?” I was already so happy to do it.

How do you describe your style?

Even if I tried to do things that are very meaningful and powerful, I always work very much towards harmony. So, if there is a spike of something, I always try to go from one note to another in a harmonious way. It needs to be nicely put together, it needs to be kind. To me, all of my fragrances are kind. Even when I do darker fragrances, they are velvety and smooth. I don’t do anything harsh.

What accomplishments are you proudest of so far?

I have many accomplishments I’m proud of. Part of my personality is that I’m always very curious, and I’ll always try to find a new solution of any problem. But in terms of fragrances, I’m very proud of Tommy Girl. I’m proud of what J’Adore has done on the market, but I think Tommy Girl was more of a breakthrough fragrance. I’m proud of the fragrances I’ve done for Kilian, because they don’t look like anything else. But there are also things I’m less proud of. I have done some flops, too.

What are the most important lessons you can teach as an educator?

What I’m looking for is people who love the product above everything, above the glamour of being a perfumer. I teach them to train their brain, because their brain will be their worst enemy. It’s very easy to jump to conclusions, to imagine that you have smelled something, to imagine someone told you something. You need to always take a step back. I teach them what’s called metacognition. You have to ask yourself so many questions as you work. We have limits to what we perceive, and we perceive things under a certain context. For instance, if you go in a room that is normally bright but you come from outside in the sun, the room is very dark; but the same room, if you come from the cellar where it was dark, you’ll find it very bright. It’s the same when working with scents; you always have to contextualize what you’re doing. When you smell something, to be true to what it is, you have to think of what you have smelled before, the environment, how do you feel at this time? Did you get coffee beforehand? These things make a huge difference.  

What do you find most interesting about perfumery?

I’m learning something every day. I’m not that type of teacher who gives something to students to do that I know the result. I’m learning with them, which I think is fantastic. Right now we’re working on a yellow orris. The smell is amazing, and I’m breaking my teeth, trying to find what’s inside it with them. I think that what drives me is curiosity. I need to learn something new every day to have a fulfilled day.

What scents do you dream of that you have not yet captured?

I’m not the only perfumer saying this, but it’s true that it’s very difficult to capture the beauty of the honeysuckle. It’s a little bit like magnolia. It’s very refined, you have to be very close to smell, but even from afar, you can smell it with the same intensity. It fills the air, it creates a trail, but with something very delicate.

What are some of the inspirations that you draw from when you’re creating?

Everything! First, other artists. I look at how artists work, how they transform something from another media, how they trickle down, how they trickly up, how they think. Looking at artists, creators, authors, musicians, inspires me a lot. For instance, one day I was at The Hermitage looking at the Dutch painters of the 17th century, those black paintings with the flowers that are quite bright. I thought, I can’t have a bouquet like that because none of those flowers grow together in the same season. I understood that they work separately with the flowers, the painters. They don’t draw a bouquet with everything together, they go one by one. With J’Adore, that was the way I worked. I worked on each flower separately and I put them together in a way that they don’t overlap.

How has the fragrance industry changed?

Everything has gotten much more technical, much faster, much more ethical, much more sustainable. There is a huge consciousness of what we are doing, what we are using, and that is totally new. When you use something, you are responsible for its safety. You know where the ingredients are coming from, and you know they’re ethical. That has been a huge shift. And the speed. Now, AI is coming as well. It can be a help or it can be a threat. It can take over many cumbersome tasks, but maybe some people are very comfortable to keep doing those tasks and they don’t want the computer to take over. I think it’s not special to perfumery, it’s something you can see across all industries. Everything changes.

HALL OF FAME: PHILIPPE BENACIN

HALL OF FAME: PHILIPPE BENACIN

HALL OF FAME: PHILIPPE BENACIN

HALL OF FAME: PHILIPPE BENACIN

June 2021

Though he may be humble about his impact, Philippe Benacin revolutionized the way that fragrances are licensed and distributed when he co-founded Interparfums in 1982. The hugely influential global company designs, produces, and distributes perfumes and cosmetics for such brands as Coach, Jimmy Choo, Lanvin, Montblanc, Montcler, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Kate Spade, among others, bringing them success and visibility in the fragrance world. Chairman and CEO Benacin, who is an avid musician and art collector, has been recognized with a Creative Audacity Prize awarded by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in 2011 and now he has won the coveted Fragrance Foundation Hall of Fame Award for 2021. To mark this milestone, he reflects on his career and shares wisdom he has learned along the way.

How does it feel to be named the Fragrance Foundation Hall of Fame honoree?

It is a great honor. I was only once at the presentation in New York and it was when Tom Ford was awarded – it was gorgeous. This time it has to be virtual but that’s ok. It’s very nice to get it no matter what.

You have so many interests. What started you down the path to the business of perfume?

People often ask me if fragrance was something I was always interested in, and I say no. I was not into fragrance at all, and my family has no link to perfumery. It so happens that when Jean [Madar, the Interparfums co-founder] and I finished business school we started a smaller company doing market surveys, and we met a French fashion company that wanted to launch a fragrance. That was the starting point. We did the market survey of the competition, but after a year of work with the CEO of that company he proposed that we develop and continue to work, physically, with the fragrance. This is how we moved, step by step, from market surveys to fragrances. We did market surveys for about two years, and it was something that I personally didn’t like at all, so it was a good point to meet this gentleman, and start in fragrance, which is much less abstract. Scent was very interesting to me, from a creative development point of view, from a supply chain point of view, and from a market point of view. When you look at the fragrance business, it’s very large. It’s very vertical. You meet people who are very different according to which segment they work in. And I have found that it’s a really nice world.

What do you consider to be your greatest contribution to the perfume industry?

I don’t want to be pretentious. I think the perfume world would have gone the same way if we were not there. But what we think we’ve done well is we’ve come to understand all of the segments of the luxury business and we have become very good at translating a brand DNA into fragrance, into product, into communication. I have the impression that we’re good at that, when you compare us to our competitors.

What have been the turning points for Interparfums?

The turning point for sure was 1993, when we signed Burberry. There had been two licensees before but neither was successful. When we signed the contract the business was almost at zero, but we created different fragrances starting in 1995, and after three or four years they were very significant in terms of sales.  I remember in year three we were at 160 million French francs. It changed completely the size of the company and also the strategy. So, 1993 was very important. And then 2013, exactly 20 years after, when Burberry decided to integrate their business. At that time, we lost 50 percent of our scents, but we knew ahead of time and could reshape our brand portfolio. I hope that 2020 will be a key date in the future, because we signed the Montcler license in 2020. But I cannot tell you now – ask me again in two years, and I will be able to tell you whether it was a success or not.

What are the keys of success that you can teach to others?

In luxury fragrance, I would say attention to detail is the most important thing. Attention to the client and to the product and to the brand.

How have you seen the fragrance business change?

Two things. In terms of retail, when you look at France and then the USA, when you look at the markets 30 years ago, you had many different retailers everywhere. Today it is no longer like that. In France you have three retailers who have 80 percent of the business. In the USA it is the same, with Macy’s doing not far from 50 percent. That’s a key point. And secondly the fact that the most powerful brands are more and more powerful. There are probably 10 companies doing most business around the world. Which means that when you launch a brand, if you don’t achieve certain figures, you are going to be out. You have to be successful. It’s no longer possible to be just ok – either you win or you lose, no middle ground.

How does close work with perfumers enhance your role?

We work with perfumers directly. When we start working – with Givaudan or Firmenich or IFF or whichever company – we give them a brief and they come back with different creations, but we don’t know who creates what. If we select three or four fragrances, different mods, then we go to the perfumer at the second stage, and in general we work with the perfumer directly until the finalization. We have a lot of possibilities – because we don’t just work with one or two perfumers, or all of the perfumers of the company. It happens often that we select a fragrance that is from a perfumer we don’t know yet. For instance the next Lanvin will be from an American perfumer, Mackenzie Reilly, from IFF. There was no specific link with her, but we liked very much the fragrance she gave us.

You have said the 200 women of Interparfums are very important. How so?

It is an industry that is very feminine. When you hire someone in France in this industry, you have more women than men. It happens that our company is 70 percent women. I fight to hire men! We have women and women and women. They are all very talented, and it works super well. They are faithful, and probably more conscientious than men.

What is the best advice you have received?

Again, I think it’s about attention to detail. In 1995, 1996, I met the CEO of Clarins and we happened to become friends. We spent hours talking about the industry, and he gave me so much good advice at that time, but on a friendly basis. Like pay attention to details, don’t go with too many creations – I can’t remember everything, but it was such a nice moment. That is why I asked him to join our board after he left Clarins.

What are your predictions for the future of the fragrance industry?

I have the impression that it will not change so much, because it has changed so much already. We will of course find newcomers – there will be newcomers on the brand level, the supply chain level, the retail level, of course – but I think that all of the key elements are there. I am talking in the next 5 to 10 years, not 50 years, because that you can never know.

BEHIND THE SCENTS: INDIE BRAND FOUNDERS

BEHIND THE SCENTS: INDIE BRAND FOUNDERS

BEHIND THE SCENTS: INDIE BRAND FOUNDERS

BEHIND THE SCENTS: INDIE BRAND FOUNDERS

June 2021

Arquiste Parfumeur – Carlos Huber

What was the creative/historical starting point for this fragrance?

The history of how patchouli arrived to European noses (via Kashmiri shawls) and its association and evolution with social changes of the 19th century. Patchouli first became the scent of misfits and counter-culture as the use of these shawls descended from the well-off classes to bohemians and courtesans . 

Were there challenges in striking the desired balance between elegance and decadence in the scent?

Yes, like misfits, the scent of patchouli is preceded by its reputation, and our goal was to turn this on its head.  Misfit is centered on the idea of things to go in and out of fashion… of fads that go from the mainstream to the fringes of society, and from the outside back in. Of making the undesirable desirable again. Instead of following a trend, being a misfit and reclaiming the elegance of patchouli.

What emotion or sensation do you want it to spark for those who smell it?

An enveloping sense of self…of individuality that doesn’t need to sacrifice elegance in order to stand out and declare its non-conformity. It’s a scent for every gender, every skin type, and every season because it celebrates both softness and assertiveness. 

How does your relationship with Rodrigo Flores-Roux enhance Arquiste, and what did he specifically bring to this scent?

Rodrigo has an emotional understanding of my creativity. He gets my ideas on storytelling and historical connection and in the feelings and sensations that I seek to provoke with a scent. He is an artist that creates new accords with seemingly disparate raw materials. He also sees perfume as an affirmation of life…as a tonic to the void that is loss. His perfumes have color and texture and give dimension to the stories I tell. 

Reaching the Finalist level for the Indie Fragrance of the Year is a big accomplishment, what does it mean to you?

This is my third Fragrance Foundation nomination in my career in fragrance and it’s a huge honor. Misfit falls exactly on my 10 year anniversary with ARQUISTE. It reaffirms my passion in meaningful and intelligent fragrance development.

D.S. & Durga – David Moltz

What was the original spark of inspiration for Jazmin Yucatan?

A trip into the interior of the Yucatan, driving through dense humid jungle en route to Coba. One feels a parallel with an inward journey as they reach such a center of ancient civilization. The jazmin yucateco growing wild smells powdery and animalic which juxtaposes with jungle dew and crocodile filled cenotes.

Working with such unique ingredients – including copal and snakeplant – were there any challenges you faced in the fragrance’s creation?

I own a snakeplant, so am quite familiar with its aroma.  The accord is built around fresh green notes and ginger which marries well with jasmine.  Copal is a wonderful base note that I use all the time and screams of the Yucatan. The main challenge was capturing a realistic jazmin flower blooming in humid air.

What is your favorite aspect of this scent?

 The realism of the jasmine. The harmony between green, water, powder, flower, fruit, and vetyver.

What sensory effect did you want it to have on those who smell it? 

I want people to be brought in their minds to an uplifting place – the humid interior of the Yucatan, and also to take an everyday mental vacation (which was particularly important last year).

Reaching the Finalist level for the Indie Fragrance of the Year is a big accomplishment, what does it mean to you?

We are always honored to be considered for our work. It says something about the state of fragrance that a small company like ours could be recognized among giants. Thank you!

Floral Street – Michelle Feeney

What was the inspiration behind Arizona Bloom?

My initial inspiration for Arizona Bloom came a few years ago as I was flying over the desert from LA to NYC – I was taken with the intense colour and it was so vast! A year later I visited the Atacama Desert in Chile with my family.  It’s the driest desert in the world, and we hiked through salt lakes and cactus valleys, all at high altitude under clear blue skies.  This dry, high environment where earth and sky meet was so freeing to the spirit that I literally wanted to bottle it!

What emotion or sensation do you want it to spark for those who smell it?

Arizona Bloom is a scent that is grounded in the wonder of nature for when you are feeling sunny, euphoric, nomadic and free-spirited. It’s a fragrance that really ‘takes you away’ from our tech-heavy world, capturing a feeling of total freedom and high octane living.  It stimulates your mood, reconnecting you with its combination of ingredients and crystallized musks, which give a warmed skin sensation and a surprise element to the scent.

What is its place within the Floral Street family?

Arizona Bloom is our 10th fragrance and our most successful launch to date. It’s a dry, floral amber scent that opens up a new fragrance category for us within our floral portfolio.

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

We took a risk by launching it digitally during the height of lock down in the pandemic but the response from e-tailers, retailers and consumers has been incredible. It was a true marrying of my personal inspiration with the skill and expertise of our scent superstar, Jerome Epinette. What has surprised and delighted me personally is that it has been loved by everyone, it’s truly a gender-neutral fragrance.   

Reaching the Finalist level for the Indie Fragrance of the Year is a big accomplishment, what does it mean to you?

As the Founder of an independent, British brand, this is, for me, is the highest accolade Floral Street could achieve. Even being a finalist for us is amazing. If we win it gives us such a credible accreditation in an industry packed full of talent. 

Shalini Parfum – Shalini

What unique properties of iris made you want to create a fragrance devoted to it? 

I have always loved the many colors of irises. I find it magical that Iris flowers are named after the Goddess Iris. Iris Lumière captures the cold silvery beauty of orris butter with all the nuances of its watery green nature. There is a longevity and delicacy to orris butter that is very haunting.

I felt an internal direction to create two fragrances as the twin lights of creation – Golden and Silver lights.  Iris Lumière, the fifth parfum in our Collection, is the Silver light of Iris and the twin to our fourth parfum, Paradis Provence — the Golden light of Thyme. Both parfums carry the cosmic energy of the Sun and the Moon.

My vision for Shalini Parfum is to return to the historical value of perfume – healing and prayer. 

How do you want people to feel when they wear or smell this fragrance? 

There is a cold essence to iris, almost like camellias in the wintertime.  The beauty and fragrance in the cold warms your heart. I desired Iris Lumière to capture the lunar energy of the Full moon and feel watery like the ocean and waves which feel the energetic pull of the moon — the tides as the water rises to the moon.  Iris Lumière evokes the feeling of swimming naked in the sea under the moonlight with the water caressing your skin creating a sense of peace for the soul.

How does your close relationship with perfumer Maurice Roucel enhance Shalini creations, and what did he specifically bring to Iris Lumiere? 

Maurice is a great lover of Iris. We both agreed that the parfum should capture the watery elements of Iris to reflect the lunar energy of the Moon.  It was a very innovative approach to Iris which is usually treated as a powdery element. He understood on an intuitive level what I yearned to create for Iris Lumière, the fifth parfum in this series inspired by the moods and passions of the soul. Usually, I compose a poem for Maurice to bring him into the creative space I am in. He has complete freedom to use the purest naturals to compose his poem.  It is like two artists creating together – a duet. We have a unique synergy as creators.

Shalini Parfum is the only complete collection that Maurice has created during his illustrious career.  

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

Created as the Silver light of peace and self-acceptance and launched last year during a time when the world needed peace, it is very rewarding to see how clients have embraced Iris Lumière. It touched our clients at a deep soulful level and became a much-loved parfum almost immediately. We received many heartfelt messages from clients telling us how it helped them during the pandemic and how they desired to be immersed daily in the healing energy of Iris Lumière. As an artist, it is the most precious compliment to bring joy and pleasure to people.

Reaching the Finalist level for the Indie Fragrance of the Year is a big accomplishment, what does it mean to you?

I am truly grateful to have this tremendous honor bestowed upon Iris Lumière.  Being a Finalist reinforces our parfums’ position as Modern Masterpieces that transcend time.

As an Indie parfum creator, I greatly appreciate the recognition of the fragrance industry.  The Fragrance Foundation is very supportive of my vision and it has meant a lot to me personally.

Being a finalist also introduces the beautiful energy of our parfums to a worldwide audience.

St.Rose – Belinda Smith

What was the original idea behind the creation of Vigilante?  

The name Vigilante comes from the latin “To be wide awake” and the inspiration for this bold new fragrance was actually from witnessing the unconquerable human spirit of brave individuals across my native Australia, who rose up to fight the devastating bushfires that took hold in late 2019 and continued to catastrophic proportions in early 2020.

As we were working on this fragrance development through 2020, an unprecedented year with profound revelations unfolding across the world stage, it has been that same power of quiet resistance and of mavericks working to change the status quo, bringing with them hope and optimism, that influenced the essence of our Vigilante.

Are there challenges to working with upcycled and natural ingredients, specifically for this scent?

 Being a clean and transparent brand we already present technical challenges for our perfumers before our push for using only sustainably sourced ingredients of the highest quality. That is truly why we are so proud of our partnership with Givaudan who share our commitment to creating in harmony with nature. Linda Song, the incredible perfumer who is the nose behind this composition was inspired to work with upcycled Cedarwood Atlas which fit so beautifully into the creative direction. At first I was concerned that since many of these materials are created from already distilled materials that there would be a diluted quality to them but it’s exactly the opposite. Instead the aroma is entirely unique and makes certain facets more intense which is an amazing way to intentionally influence a composition into a certain direction. 

To quote Linda, by repurposing what some might discard as waste, we are using the forgotten material to create added value and to explore new olfactive dimension–bringing unique notes to a perfumer’s palette. In the upcycled rose in Vigilante, it’s about introducing a modern, fresh rose nuance to the floralcy and the upcycled cedarwood Atlas, which is a more intense and fruity version of the Atlas cedarwood without the animalic overtones allowing it to be used more fluidly between both masculine and feminine fragrances.

What effect did you want Vigilante to have on those who smell it?

 Intrinsic to the ritual of wearing fine fragrance is that it makes us feel good, confident, sexy … but more than anything I hope with Vigilante that there is a feeling of empowerment as well. It’s a scent that was certainly inspired by a rebellious energy and I think we really infused that sentiment into the final essence. I’ve always loved a bit of a quiet rebel, those who in their tireless pursuits continue to push against the grain. That unconquerable spirit is inspiring and contagious. Of all the mavericks I adore, it’s the artists who don’t just paint, compose, or write what they see, but rather what they wish the world to see; who are my favorite type of renegade. In their finished works we share a common experience and that sentiment of oneness is something I hope we all wake up to, … may art inspire the way.

How does Vigilante express ST. ROSE aesthetic and ethos? My desire for this composition was really to be an artistic call to arms, one that pushes boundaries for clean beauty and luxury fragrance. At. ST. ROSE,  our greatest aspiration is to make this planet more conscious for all humankind and what better art form than fragrance, drawing from the Earth’s most alluring aromatic materials, to inspire a deeper connection between self and nature. Creating with smart transparency from a palette of environmentally friendly ingredients we hope to make the artistic intention behind Vigilante that much more inspiring.

 Reaching the Finalist level for the Indie Fragrance of the Year is a big accomplishment, what does it mean to you?

 It is truly such a dream. To be recognized alongside such a gorgeous company of finalists is an incredible honor. Choosing to take the path less travelled and make choices as a young brand that often presents more challenges and takes more of an investment is not always easy. To be recognized for that effort is so validating and also incredibly invigorating, knowing our efforts are championed. From the entire team at ST. ROSE, I am so thankful to The Fragrance Foundation.

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G. LEVY

June 2021

This June issue of Accords includes insightful one-on-one interviews with the 2021 TFF Awards honorees whom we just celebrated: Calice Becker, Lifetime Achievement Perfumer and Philippe Benacin, Hall of Fame. Please get to know these Honorees in addition to viewing their TFF Awards videos on our website here.

In addition, we conducted a Q&A exchange prior to the winner announcement on June 10th with the finalists in the very special category Indie Fragrance of the Year. As 2020 brought challenges to all in the world, reaching Finalist status for these 5 brand creators in such an exceptional year clearly indicates not just what the specific finalist fragrance achieved, but that the overall brand portfolio is positioned for ongoing success in the years to follow. This category is judged by anonymous fragrance experts on many aspects of the fragrance itself and its direct communication to consumers. 

The winner was just announced a few days ago: MISFIT Arquiste Parfumeur!

As in the Olympics, only one contender can win and is certainly the winner. However, as many know I am consistently communicating that Finalists are all to be celebrated, not just winners. So for this year and particularly in this category, it is even more important to celebrate the positivity of this achievement and applaud these Finalists as they are not competitors from the TFF perspective, but undeniably winning brands going forward. I have had the privilege, along with the TFF team, to get to know them and have to applaud these Finalists and all our valued Indie fragrance brands.

Please accept our deep gratitude to the thousands who joined us virtually for The Fragrance Foundation Awards to celebrate with us as a global community! 

You may replay the entire exciting Awards available on our website or view each separate category which includes the experience from the star presenter to the announcement of the winner and their acceptance, here.

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy

@fragrancefoundation

May

THE FUTURE OF FRAGRANCE – THE RETAIL PERSPECTIVE

THE FUTURE OF FRAGRANCE – THE RETAIL PERSPECTIVE
Scents and Sensibility

THE FUTURE OF FRAGRANCE – THE RETAIL PERSPECTIVE

THE FUTURE OF FRAGRANCE – THE RETAIL PERSPECTIVE

May 2021

For this edition of ACCORDS, the Fragrance Foundation reached out to retailers to get their perspective on how the fragrance market has changed, and how it has been in many ways revolutionized by the pandemic. As we enter a new era, how have our shopping habits transformed and how will we continue to fortify ourselves with fragrance moving forward? No one has a closer eye on the consumer than those who watched and learned as their companies navigated the past year.

“Throughout the pandemic, we saw our customers responding to fragrances,” says Julie Walsh, VP, Divisional Business Manager, Fragrances, at Macy’s Inc. “Scent is powerful.  It reminds you of people and places. It makes you happy and brings you comfort. We all needed that this past year!” Elizabeth Miller, VP, Divisional Merchandise Manager for Cosmetics at Bloomingdale’s agrees that this is why the fragrance business showed so much success in 2020. “Smell is the sense most closely linked to memory. In a time where we are all longing for normalcy, it follows that we would look to scents that call back some of our favorite times, whether it’s a wedding day, a special vacation, or another memorable moment. In the past year, our Bloomingdale’s customers shifted from spending on experiences to investing in ‘little luxuries,’ including home and personal fragrance that bring a sense of comfort.”

Retailers pivoted to meet both a surge in demand and the shift to digital that the pandemic necessitated. “We had to think of how to engage the customer digitally, creating compelling content to keep her engaged, connected and excited to come back to hear the story around our fragrances in store, and how to ensure safety through touchless scented sampling,” says Mark Knitowski, VP, Product Development Innovation & Fragrance at Victoria’s Secret Beauty. “Our customers voted for collection fragrances, layering of scents and body products as well as candles and home fragrance,” says Gemma Lionello, EVP, GMM Beauty & Accessories, Nordstrom. “Our team did a great job connecting with our customers through digital events and digital master classes that were very well received. Our customers were able to learn about scent layering and finding new favorites with special event kits that our teams sent to their home. Sampling continued to be one of our core service values and our customers enjoyed being able to try several scents before they decided what to buy.”

All agree that the upswing in fragrance sales, as well as the agility of both retailers and consumers who will be excited to shop for their next scent both online and in store, will continue into the future. “While we anticipate our customer getting back to spending on travel and experiences, we believe the future of fragrance is bright,” says Elizabeth Miller, VP, DMM for Cosmetics at Bloomingdale’s. “Luxury continues to grow exponentially, as does our customer’s appetite for investing in quality items like luxury fragrances. We see the focus on pillar/hero fragrances within lines, while also evolving to include new formats and formulations of our customer’s favorite fragrances. As more shoppers return to our Bloomingdale’s stores, we see a return to in-store activations that our customer craves, and finally, utilizing technology to enhance the customer’s experience.” The key, says Knitowski is maintaining the gains. “We need to take this momentum we are seeing to catapult the category onward.  The customer sees fragrance as special again, we need to hold her attention and think forward to what she wants next.”

“The respect and trust our teams have with our brand partners continues to lay the foundation for success,” says Penny Coy, VP Merchandising, Fragrance at Ulta Beauty. “Our guests have reacted so positively to the many partnerships around new launches, exclusives and  spotlights on legacy.” As for the future? Coy sums up the retailers’ positive consensus perfectly. “We are very optimistic for the category to continue on its trajectory,” she says. “Our fragrance team mantra is “Can’t stop, won’t stop!”

POSITIVITY FOR FRAGRANCE IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD: NPD & TFF

POSITIVITY FOR FRAGRANCE IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD: NPD & TFF
Scents and Sensibility

POSITIVITY FOR FRAGRANCE IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD: NPD & TFF

POSITIVITY FOR FRAGRANCE IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD: NPD & TFF

May 2021

Video Interview – Click HERE To Watch!

The NPD Group is one of the world’s largest market research companies. This week, Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy joined Larissa Jensen, Vice President, Industry Advisor, Beauty, The NPD Group for a wide-reaching and optimistic conversation about the state of the fragrance industry.

Highlights from the discussion centered around consumer behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how much of the change in purchasing priorities and patterns is expected to endure as the world returns to offices, travel, and social interaction.

The pair kicked off by talking about the incredibly strong performance and momentum that fragrance has shown in retail over the past year. Consumers have been purchasing higher ticket items such as larger sizes, high-concentration juices, and luxury brands throughout the pandemic. Remarkably, this has happened despite the shift to online purchasing. “I never thought that fragrance could be soaring the way that it is considering the pandemic where  the vast majority of sales are done online,” Levy says, predicting that even though brick-and-mortar will always be important to perfume purchasers, the shift to digital will continue to be substantial as a percent to total now that consumers are comfortable maneuvering in that space.

Home fragrances became incredibly important during the pandemic, as people rediscovered how scent can enhance an atmosphere and lift a mood. The category diversified, with candles, diffusers, and plug-ins becoming an essential part of creating a home sanctuary—and the market exploded. Similarly, fragrance came to be regarded as self-care, a beauty and wellness accessory that helps everyone feel good. Because the sense of smell is so intertwined with memory and emotion, consumers found that scent could provide them with an important sense of escape.

“In many ways we believe that fragrance has become the new lipstick index,” Jensen says, noting that an NPD survey showed that the number one reason people have been purchasing fragrance—at 50 percent of those who responded—is as a treat for themselves. Fragrance is an affordable indulgence, and, she says, “It really has become a luxury that people are buying for themselves.”

Not that they aren’t buying it for others as well. Holiday was a huge moment for fragrance in 2020, and Mother’s Day 2021 saw fragrance sales soar. According to NPD, 19% of Mother’s Day gift buyers purchased fragrance, double the rate of other beauty categories. During the two weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, fragrance sales posted a remarkable 33 percent growth rate over 2019. Levy points out that rose scents and florals in general were wildly popular, as well as categories such as candles, perfume oils, and hair mists. She predicts that “bridal registry is the new holiday,” now that people are gathering for events and celebrations and will want to share their love of fragrance.

Consumers have clearly awakened to a newly powerful love for fragrance. “Pre-pandemic, people looked at it as frivolous,” says Levy, “but now it is seen as important, part of their personality and how they feel every day.” She predicts that growth will continue as the market recovers overall. Ultimately, “it’s about understanding market dynamics and the consumer behavioral shifts,” says Jensen. “And companies that are able to do that are really going to win in the end.”

PERFUME EXTRAORDINAIRE: PERFUME FINALISTS Q&A

PERFUME EXTRAORDINAIRE: PERFUME FINALISTS Q&A
What The Nose Knows

PERFUME EXTRAORDINAIRE: PERFUME FINALISTS Q&A

PERFUME EXTRAORDINAIRE: PERFUME FINALISTS Q&A

May 2021

Ralf Schwieger, MANE

Bukhara by Gallivant

What were the inspirations you drew upon when creating Bukhara?

Bukhara is a city on the Silk Road with a long history of culture and trade. The scent is dedicated to the majesty of the orris flower: the vast dark blue skies, arid landscape and architectural elements like the vibrant tiles used to decorate the mosques stand in for the colors of the flower, and spices representing the ancient trade are woven into a radiant latticework.

How do you want someone to feel when they smell the scent?

Elegance and transparency are two lodestars ruling my work –  I dislike heavy and cloying fragrances and those where you only smell single raw materials in the trail. I hope that I somewhat accomplished that mission if the person who wears the fragrance  feels the luminosity I tried to infuse in this scent.  

What does it mean to you to be nominated for Perfume Extraordinaire?

The Perfume Extraordinaire is chosen by an industry panel of experts – perfumers, evaluators and marketers who criticize, praise and judge scents on a daily basis. The fact that Bukhara made it to the finalists’ stage fills me with joy, knowing that only the scent and not the brand or packaging determined the choice.

Florie Tanquerel, Cosmo International Fragrance

Garden of Grace 

What was your starting point for Garden of Grace ?

When I received the brief from Sarah Horowitz, you can only imagine how excited I was! We worked closely with her to make her vision come to life in creating the smell of the “perfect rose” grown in the Rose Grace Farm located in Santa Inez, California. Growing up in the South of France, close to Grasse, the kingdom of the Rose Centifolia, I have a very special connection to the scent of roses.  This was my starting point in creating Garden of Grace.

 What specific effects did you want to achieve with this scent?

I knew I wanted to use our exclusive natural ingredient, the Rose Craftivity®, which is extracted through a green process in our plant in the South of France. This ingredient really captures the purest and most natural impression of a rose field in full bloom. I wanted to reflect a mix of modernity and sophistication while revealing the petally texture and pastel colors exclusive to the roses of Grace Rose Farm, so I combined other fluffy floral notes such as peony and Moroccan orris. Inspired by the California landscapes,  I also incorporated fresh marine notes and fruity vineyard grapes while rounding out the fragrance with a bit of soft cashmere woods and musk.

 What does it mean to you to be nominated for Perfume Extraordinaire?

All I can say is…Wow! Cosmo International Fragrances and I are very proud and more than happy to have been picked among the other amazing fragrances by the industry.  For me, it means that we have accomplished great success with this fragrance.  It is already a true honor for us to be nominated this year and it really was a great collaborative effort across the globe, from Miami, Los Angeles to the South of France!

Alberto Morillas, Firmenich

Gucci The Alchemist’s Garden Hortus Sanitatis 

What is unique about your collaboration process with Alessandro Michele?

Each time I get to work with Alessandro Michele, he seems to bring out a new facet of my own personality, or a curiosity that I didn’t know existed. He’s a fascinating individual, with a totally unique vision, and he has a way of bringing you into his world, so that you become part of the tapestry of what he’s building. I’ve had the pleasure of co-creating with Alessandro since 2017, and during this time we’ve collaborated on nearly thirty different Gucci fragrances. Ultimately, we’ve developed our own unique ‘language’ and way of communicating. It’s a very special and direct relationship that exists between myself and Mr. Michele, and it’s important that I understand his perspective so that I can create fragrances that mirror his aesthetic and the vision he has for the brand.  There is a certain amount of trust between us, and I have a keen sense of Alessandro’s expectations even before I begin developing usually. Mr. Michele knows exactly what he likes, and subsequently what he doesn’t like, and his feedback is invaluable to me during the process of formula creation. We are very in-tune with each other, and the chemistry between us at a creative level is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable parts of working with him.

What were the inspirations behind Hortus Sanitatis?

Hortus Sanitatis, which is the Latin name for ‘Garden of Health’, is named after one of the first natural history encyclopedias published in the 15th century. Interestingly, Gucci had already published a tome under the same name with English photographer Derek Ridgers, who shot their Pre-Fall 2017 collection. This collection (and specific fragrance) was inspired by the art of alchemy and the concept of layering, to be able to customize fragrance combinations to create an utterly unique and personalized scent. I used notes of premium quality papyrus and cedarwood to showcase timeless elegance, imbued with a smoky quality. During the creation process of Hortus Sanitatis, I imagined rows of old glass flacons sitting on the wooden shelves of an antique apothecary, with recently brewed strange and mythical fumes wafting throughout the space. There’s a rare strand of intoxicating darkness that runs through this perfume, with musky undertones that remind me of journeying to a pool of undiscovered water in a remote cave, the ebb and flow of waves marrying the essence of life and freshness with depth and shadows.

 What does it mean to you to be nominated for Perfume Extraordinaire?

I’m truly honored to be a nominee. This award is one of the most coveted and renowned for perfumers worldwide. I feel extremely privileged to be in the company of many other esteemed perfumers, and humbled that my life’s work is recognized as a distinguished body of thoughtful fragrances. Ultimately, the greatest pleasure I take is knowing that for every perfume I’ve crafted, I’ve imparted a bit of my soul into the creation, and I’m able to touch the hearts and minds of millions of people in this way.

Philippe Paparella, Symrise

Memo Retba 

How did you translate the idea of Lake Retba into scent?

Retba was initially intended for the Middle East market. My primary idea was to play with an addictive amber and stay away from the Rose/Oud cliché. I started with an accord made of our Ambre 84 DeLaire base, Vanilla Absolute from Madagascar, and some red fruit notes as a reference to the Lake’s colors. Then I facetted this accord with spices (Cardamom, Pink Pepper, Ginger & Cinnamon from Madagascar) and woods to bring more sophistication. The result is an opulent ambery scent.

What emotions would you like the fragrance to evoke?

I want Retba to intrigue the consumer and take them to remote places. I like this quote from Yves Saint Laurent, who once said:  “I use my imagination to conjure up countries I don’t know. I hate to travel. For example, if I read a book about the Indies with photos or about Egypt, where I’ve never been, my imagination takes me there. That’s how I take my best trips.” As most of us have been unable to travel due to Covid-19, I’d like to think that this creation can transport us somewhere else with the strong evocative power of fragrances. And that’s what Memo is about.

What does it mean to you to be nominated for Perfume Extraordinaire?

I have always admired Dave Apel and Emilie Coppermann’s creativity, so being nominated in the same category as them is such an honor. It would be amazing to follow in their footsteps. Thanks to my colleague Alienor Massenet, I had a chance to fulfill my passion and work in tandem on niche perfumes for Hermetica, Memo, and a few other brands. I owe this nomination to her for being an inspiration and role model over the past few years.

Pascal Gaurin, IFF

Scents of Wood Plum in Cognac 

What effect did you want to achieve with this scent?

Brands are always a reflection of their creators. Scents of Woods reflects Fabrice Croise’s love for nature and uncompromising stand for creativity and luxury.  With Fabrice, we are both astonished by the endless power of trees, these majestic living organisms have been our silent companions since the beginning of humanity. We also share the same fascination for wood as a living material and its infinite transformative power when it interacts with human imagination. Wood as a raw living material has yielded us the most beautiful human creations on earth whether it be a sculpture, an architectural masterpiece, or a luxury fragrance.

Plum in Cognac is at the confluence of my childhood memories and my constant quest for sensuality in perfumery. With this fragrance, my desire was to convey the memories of a voluptuous purple Plum ripe with life, also known as Quetsche d’Alsace, combined with the dense woody and resinous essence escaping from the dark forests of my childhood.

What challenges did you encounter in its creation?

My first challenge was to preserve the woody signature which is at the core of Scents of Wood’s brand DNA while magnifying it with a sensual and decadent element. It’s where this luscious purple Plum enveloped in a thrill of dark Rum comes into play. The decadent blend of this juicy fruit dripping in voluptuous dark Rum brings this deep sensual purple effect to the wood. 

My second challenge came from the brand’s unique creative process, the organic alcohol was aged in a vintage Cognac Barrel. Throughout the creation process, I had to make sure the scent will perfectly marry with this aged alcohol and will reveal all the olfactive complexity of Aged Cognac Wood.  

What does it mean to you to be nominated for Perfume Extraordinaire?

Working on Scents of Wood has been a beautiful journey and it’s especially incredible to see Plum in Cognac nominated in the Perfumer Extraordinaire category only 9 months after the brand was launched. At a time when the number of fragrance launches is hitting a record high, seeing Plum in Cognac being recognized for its creativity and uniqueness is also the most beautiful reward I could have wished for.

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G.LEVY

THE  INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G.LEVY
The Inside Scoop

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G.LEVY

THE  INSIDE SCOOP WITH LINDA G.LEVY

May 2021

This holiday weekend, when we pay tribute on Memorial Day to honor and remember our Veterans who sacrificed their lives in the military. We also kick off  the summer season officially. For both of these significant occasions, we are filled with gratitude and cautious optimism, as the world moves forward. We are emerging more resilient and going forward, into the “new normal”.

In this May Accords, we feature discussions of the past and the future of the pandemic impact at retail, for consumers and fragrance creativity. The insights in this issue cover a broad range of perspectives but share common themes from Retailers, NPD, and Perfumer  Finalists in the Perfume Extraordinaire category for the TFF Awards.

All of us at TFF look forward to all of the global fragrance community joining us at our big TFF Awards event on June 10th. We will celebrate fragrance creativity, our passion for fragrance, honor Calice Becker, Vice President Perfumer & Director of the Givaudan Perfumery School with the Lifetime Achievement Perfumer Award; and Philippe Benacin, Chairman and CEO Interparfums, with the Hall of Fame Award; as well as announce all 2021 TFF Awards winners.

At the event, Louie Schwartzberg, award winning visual artist and filmmaker, who is TFF’s collaborative creative force in 2021, will share his inspiration for the magnificent films he creates of nature & humankind. 

The webinar is free to the fragrance global audience, and open to anyone who registers to join the awards presentation. Please register here.  See you June 10th with Dolly Parton, Alicia Keys, Kylie Minogue, Isabella Rossellini, Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez, Thom Browne, André Leon Talley, and Christian Siriano!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy

@fragrancefoundation

Apr

NEXT FOR AUTISM – THE YEAR AHEAD: LAURA SLATKIN & TOMMY HILFIGER

NEXT FOR AUTISM – THE YEAR AHEAD: LAURA SLATKIN & TOMMY HILFIGER

NEXT FOR AUTISM – THE YEAR AHEAD: LAURA SLATKIN & TOMMY HILFIGER

NEXT FOR AUTISM – THE YEAR AHEAD: LAURA SLATKIN & TOMMY HILFIGER

April 2021

Laura Slatkin, the unmistakable and famously gracious woman behind NEST Fragrances, co-founded NEXT for AUTISM in 2003, and has since worked tirelessly to build the non-profit into a potent force for change. Whether through medical care, education, or community support, the organization has improved the lives of those affected by autism in countless ways. Iconic fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who has collaborated with his friend Laura and her husband Harry Slatkin on events and projects raising money for autism research and awareness, has also joined the NEXT for AUTISM Board. Together, they have big plans for the future—including NEXT for AUTISM’s continued partnership with the Fragrance Foundation’s Give Back program—which they share with ACCORDS in this month’s special edition.

April has traditionally been Autism Awareness Month. What has changed for 2021?

Laura Slatkin:

This April is different than in past years when it comes to autism. NEXT for AUTISM and our colleagues across the disability community are formally calling for a change to the terminology we use to recognize this month, moving away from the previous moniker of “Autism Awareness Month,” to the more relevant and meaningful “Autism Acceptance Month.” As the prevalence for autism mounted in the 90’s it was critical to raise awareness, advance the field and make progress. Now that we have seen progress in these areas it’s time to focus on accepting individuals with autism and integrating them into the community. Autism Acceptance Month signifies a necessary evolution in expecting a deeper understanding, value, and inclusion of individuals with autism in society.

Tommy, what motivated you to join the NEXT for AUTISM Board?

Tommy Hilfiger: 

Autism is very dear to my heart and I want to do my part to ensure that the more than 5.4 million adults on the autism spectrum have the support they need to have active, productive, fulfilling lives as adults, without boundaries or barriers to live out their dreams. That’s what NEXT for AUTISM is all about. They are a highly focused team of doers. NEXT for AUTISM is always challenging the status quo, leading the charge to make the world a better, more inclusive, and more equitable place.  

What do you admire most about what NEXT for AUTISM has achieved so far?

Tommy Hilfiger:

NEXT for AUTISM is always pushing boundaries and advancing innovative programs for individuals on the spectrum and their families. They launched two charter schools for students on the spectrum in Harlem and the Bronx, started a training course for educators and professionals with Hunter College and opened a clinical center with NewYork-Presbyterian, Columbia and Cornell providing services across the lifespan, to name a few. They have a history of getting things done and impacting the autism community and I want to be a part of that.

What are the current initiatives for NEXT for AUTISM?

Laura Slatkin:

While the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been collecting data and releasing information about the prevalence of autism in children for decades, 2020 marks the first time the CDC has reported on adults. There are more than 5.4 million adults living with autism in the U.S. and they deserve equity in the workforce, homes that are safe and welcoming, a rich social life–desirous life experiences for all adults.

NEXT for AUTISM wants to be part of the solution. We are dedicated to building resources and programs that are grounded in best practices, committed to system change and that both promote acceptance and truly move the needle for adults with autism. The goal is healthy quality life experiences within the home, community and social networks for adults on the spectrum. The team at NEXT for AUTISM is working hard to bring this vision into reality.

What are the specific NEXT for AUTISM initiatives for adults with autism

Laura Slatkin:

This year, we are embarking on several exciting efforts to quickly address some of the most pressing issues adults on the spectrum now face. Three of our most exciting initiatives are:

NEXT for NEIGHBORS: There are more than 800,000 Direct Support Professionals/staff (DSPs) working in the United States. The backbone of a quality supported living environment for an adult with autism are the professionals who work in those homes. NEXT for NEIGHBORS empowers DSPs by providing professional development, that inspires the delivery of quality support so adults with autism can thrive with improved communication, having choices and engaging in preferred activities in the community and much more. Presently we are piloting the NEXT for NEIGHBORS curriculum and training initiative with The Arc Westchester in New York and our goal is to fine tune this program, and develop comprehensive materials that can be disseminated and expand our reach nationwide.

NEXT for GOING OUT: There are more than 600,000 adults with autism and other developmental disabilities that are being served in day programs throughout the United States. NEXT 4 GOING OUT is an easy-to-use resource providing visual supports for adults with autism and the professionals supporting them that ensure that adults are going out into the community and engaging in programs that will enhance their lives and promote independence.

NEXT GEN CONNECT Mentorship is a well-established practice for supporting employment. NEXT GEN CONNECT is a peer mentorship program to improve acquisition and retention of employment for autistic adults.

What is your perspective on the third annual December event with the TFF and AARMY? How is this event growing? 

Laura Slatkin:

We are honored that The Fragrance Foundation has chosen to support NEXT for AUTISM by making our AARMY event an annual event. We are building momentum–the Fragrance community is getting to know us and the work we do, and we are building important relationships with TFF members. We value everyone’s willingness to partner, highly. This year we will brainstorm on how we can expand our reach to include more folks, particularly those that are affected by autism that work in the fragrance community—or know someone who is affected by autism. At NEXT we always say “Someone You Know Loves Someone With Autism.” 

Why is the ongoing relationship between TFF and NEXT for AUTISM is important?

Tommy Hilfiger:

The Fragrance Foundation and the fragrance community at large is a very dedicated, passionate group of individuals that also know how to get things done. For someone like myself and Laura and Harry, who have been deeply involved in the fragrance industry for decades it’s heartwarming to know that what is important to us is important to them. The ongoing relationship between NEXT and TFF is important because we all know that it takes time and momentum to build something important and meaningful. With the awareness and funds raised from TFF involvement we now have the opportunity to create lasting and impactful change for the autism community.

Laura Slatkin:

On a very personal level I feel so excited about having the opportunity to combine my two favorite passions in life, fragrance and philanthropy.

ON THE NOSE: DR. PAMELA DALTON

ON THE  NOSE: DR. PAMELA DALTON

ON THE NOSE: DR. PAMELA DALTON

ON THE  NOSE: DR. PAMELA DALTON

April 2021

Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have been conducting groundbreaking research into how smell shapes our daily lives for more than 52 years. This work has perhaps never been so pressing and relevant as it is today, when so many individuals have lost their sense of smell due to COVID-19, and the Monell Chemical Senses Center has become a critical force in gaining greater understand of the mechanisms behind sudden smell loss, as well as building awareness with its Monell Smell For Life Project (https://monell.org/anosmia/).  The Fragrance Foundation welcomed experimental psychologist and Monell Center scientist Pamela Dalton, PhD, MPH, to share insights from her studies as part of Fragrance Day 2021, and in this month’s edition of ACCORDS she outlines not only why the olfactive system is so crucial to health and happiness but also how all of us can support the Monell Center’s mission.

How common is the loss of a sense of smell, and what are the primary causes?

Fortunately, prior to COVID-19, complete smell loss was relatively uncommon, although not unheard of.  Because we don’t regularly test smell ability, most data on the frequency of smell loss are estimates.  Probably the best ones are from the NHANES studies, where they found that ~12% of the population has a smell disorder and 3.2% are severely hyposmic or anosmic (total loss of smell).  Increasing age has always been a factor in smell loss.  Nasal-sinus disease, head trauma, upper respiratory viruses, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons) and toxic chemical exposures are all etiologies of smell loss, whether acute, persistent or permanent. 

What are some of the ways that it can affect a person beyond the direct consequence of not being able to smell?  

People who lose their ability to smell often feel disoriented in familiar environments and feel isolated in social relationships (spouses, children) because the odors that signal familiarity are missing.  Changes in eating behavior are also common—some people undereat and lose weight because food is no longer appetitive and some people overeat because they’re looking to regain the satisfaction that flavor (smell+taste) brought them. There is also a tendency to experience depression which may be due to reduced or absent input to the olfactory bulb (a part of the ‘emotional’ limbic system). People also worry about the inability to sense danger—from gas leaks, fires, spoiled food.  And they also worry about not being able to smell their own body odor and offend others. 

What are the current key studies Monell is conducting?

We have studies attempting to understand how well smell loss is predictive of COVID-19 infection; at present it appears to be a better and more specific indicator than fever (which can have many different causes).  We are using a test we recently developed called SCENTinel, that uses a single odorant but taps three different components of olfactory function:  detection, intensity and identification.  We also have an ongoing study of smell training in normal aging, to see if it can improve odor sensitivity.  Other studies that are conducted remotely are using the Monell Flavor Quiz- a 12 item sensory test that evaluates smell, taste and chemesthesis (cooling, warming). And other studies are attempting to understand how the molecular structure of a chemical can be used to predict odor quality and intensity.   

What have been the most significant findings so far regarding scent loss?  

Scent loss affects different people in different ways—but uniformly people report feeling like they’ve lost a very significant dimension of their everyday life.  We’ve never had an occurrence where so many people have lost their ability to smell in such a short span of time. Obviously we hope that what we learn about how the virus is affecting the olfactory system will lead to treatments and understanding for other types of post-viral smell loss. 

How can people participate in Monell research?

Several ways:  there are ongoing studies where people come into the Center to be tested, but we also have modified a number of studies so that people can participate in their home.  Either the samples are mailed to them or they come to the Center to pick up the samples.  In some cases, testing takes place while you’re on a Zoom call with the scientist at the Center, in other cases, you sample the stimuli yourself and respond on a computer or your cell phone.  Studies that are currently enrolling are posted on our web page:  https://monell.org/participate 

How does scent training work?  

The basic program is to choose four odorants—there are kits you can buy or you can choose your own scents—either essential oils you buy or scented objects you can find around your home (spices, fragranced lotions, soaps etc). Twice a day you should sit down with the odorants and smell each odorant—while trying to recall how you remember the odor experience—spending around 1 minute per odorant. The key is to do it consistently.  It can be frustrating (if no feedback initially) and a bit boring, but it is the only recommended therapy for post-viral smell loss that has been shown to restore the ability to smell better than the passage of time.  And it has no risks.

What should someone do if they begin to notice a deficiency in their sense of smell? 

 Because there can be multiple reasons why someone’s smell ability is changing, it is recommended that they try to get tested.  If a smell loss is confirmed, then it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor to investigate the potential health conditions that may have caused the smell loss.  They may recommend an ENT exam of the nose to rule out nasal sinus disease or they may identify a recent viral infection that may have caused lasting changes.  However, there is absolutely no reason not to start smell training at any point if you think your ability to smell is changing.

THE HOST WITH STAR POWER: MARIO LOPEZ

THE HOST WITH  STAR  POWER: MARIO LOPEZ

THE HOST WITH STAR POWER: MARIO LOPEZ

THE HOST WITH  STAR  POWER: MARIO LOPEZ

April 2021

Who could fail to be charmed by Mario Lopez? The multi-hyphenate entertainer, presenter, author, producer, and director brought his signature charisma to the Fragrance Foundation’s 2021 Awards Finalists live webinar on April 14th, impressing viewers with his passion for scent as well as his ambitious and productive work ethic. The two-time Emmy winner, star of Saved By The Bell, and host of NBC’s Access Hollywood, Access Daily, and All Access, also helms  a nationally syndicated radio show, “On With Mario,” and currently preparing to start pre-production for a documentary he will be directing for HBO (in addition to countless other projects).  Accords tracked him down on the set of his upcoming holiday film, currently filming in Santa Fe, to get his thoughts on the enduring magic of perfume and why he jumped at the chance to join the fragrance community.

What was it like for you to host the Fragrance Foundation Awards Finalists webinar?

I really enjoyed hosting the awards, especially because I love fragrances! To meet the top people in the industry was very interesting and a lot of fun.

What do you love about fragrance?

I love smelling good and discovering new scents.

What are your earliest scent memories?

Wearing Drakkar and Cool Water cologne and Fahrenheit when I was in Junior High.

When did you start wearing fragrance yourself?

I believe Junior High.

Do you have specific memories that you can share associated with fragrances that other people around you have worn, or places you have been?

Any cheap cologne smells great on my dad. He just has a great body chemistry! He can wear a $10 Jovan Musk and it smells amazing on him. Women will actually pull him aside and ask him what he’s wearing.    I also know great smelling celebs! I can judge them by their fragrance.

What are some of your favorite scents currently in your rotation?

I really like Molecule right now, Égoïste Platinum by Chanel and Santal by Le Labo.

Do you choose to wear them according to your mood, or according to what you will be doing that day/night?

According to what I will be doing that day or night.

How do you like your home to smell?

I like my home to smell clean but when I walk into the kitchen I like it to smell like coffee.

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

THE INSIDE SCOOP: LINDA G. LEVY

April 2021

This edition of Accords is more varied in content than usual as TFF activities cover a wide range this month and we want to share it all.  

April is Autism Acceptance Month so the interview with Laura Slatkin co-founder of NEXT for Autism and Tommy Hilfiger who recently joined their board, provides an update on their progress and programs.  

We at TFF have formally confirmed our ongoing commitment to GIVE BACK and raise awareness with NEXT for Autism.  What began as a plan to partner with our 2019 Game Changer Laura Slatkin for one year, has since grown into a long term relationship. The fragrance community will unite again for the annual December AARMY event and look forward to growing participation nationwide. Meanwhile, please take a moment to learn about the upcoming live stream you do not want to miss on April 30th with Mark Rober & Jimmy Kimmel to support the autism community here.

We are proud of TFF’s ongoing effort to share more expert knowledge about the sense of smell this month.  In this next interview of Monell Center’s Dr. Pamela Dalton we learn more about scent loss, scent training and how one can participate in Monell research.

Our third feature allows us to end on a more celebratory note. On April 14th we held our virtual 2021 Finalists TFF Awards with host Mario Lopez, two-time Emmy-winner, entertainer, actor, producer, and host of NBC’s “Access Hollywood”. Over 1,000 viewers tuned in globally to hear the Finalists announcements. Mario brought great positivity and energy to the event and it was clear he shares our passion for fragrance. Our interview with Mario allows us to welcome him again to the fragrance community as a member in good standing with an ever growing fragrance collection. If you wish to replay the webinar or find out more about the TFF Awards Finalist, you may replay here.

Mark your calendars as we are planning an even more exciting  star studded 2021 TFF Awards event June 10th. More information will follow in the next weeks for the big event when we announce the winners and pay tribute to our Lifetime Achievement Perfumer Calice Becker and Hall of Fame Honoree, Philippe Benacin.

Let’s all look forward to springtime with sunshine and a celebration of a fragrant Mother’s Day!

President, The Fragrance Foundation

@linda_g_levy
@fragrancefoundation


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.

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