May

SPOTLIGHT: NEW MEMBERS

Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: NEW MEMBERS

Joining TFF unlocks a world of opportunities and inspiration for fragrance brands, uniting them with a community of peers and further strengthening TFF’s mission to ensure that everyone has a voice and a seat at the table through #FragranceForwardTFF. Every new member enriches the conversation, enhances the network, and proves the indisputable truth that we are always better together than we are apart. In this issue of ACCORDS, we take a moment to welcome new members and celebrate everything that makes them special. Here, we invite them to share their unique brand perspective, what they hope to bring to TFF, and what they are looking forward to as they enter this exciting new chapter.

What does it mean for your brand to join TFF as a new member and what do you hope it will help you achieve? 

I was so excited to join TFF as a new member—to me, it felt like Nette had really arrived onto the fragrance scene. TFF and its leadership, including the incredible Linda Levy, has such a powerful way of bringing the fragrance community together—brands, perfumers, fragrance houses, executives, retailers, and all. It has been incredible to be given the opportunity to be in the same room with this community and feel that, even amongst brands, it is so much more about collaboration than competition. 

What is your brand’s unique point of view and how does it appeal to consumers’ lifestyles? 

Nette is a clean, scientifically-backed, approachable luxury fragrance brand focused on amplifying well-being and NettePositive™ emotion through scent. We firmly believe that fragrance can change our lives for the better, have a proven effect on our emotions and moods, and deserves to be a recognized art form in and of itself. I think consumers in general want more from their products—for example, they want their makeup to have serious skincare benefits. Fragrance is perfectly positioned to cater to that need by offering emotional benefits along with satisfying the desire to smell amazing. 

TFF’s mission is to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance and has been driving change in the industry with #FragranceForwardTFF. How does your brand embrace these values and incorporate them into the business?

Nette’s brand mission has always been to help our community Take Good Care™ through the incredible art and science of fragrance, which I feel aligns really nicely with TFF’s mission on discovery. There is such an intricate and fascinating world of fragrance and if we can be part of what causes people to discover that magic—the artistry, the poetry, and the science of fragrance—we will have done a good thing. 

What does it mean for your brand to join TFF as a new member and what do you hope it will help you achieve?

I have been part of the family of the Fragrance Foundation for the past 32 years since I founded Slatkin + Co. with my wife Laura who now owns NEST and is a member. With a short hiatus being out of the fragrance world I am so happy to be a family member again with the return of my Slatkin + Co. Brand…..it is the Platinum level of achievement and I am proud to have received several awards in the past. 

What is your brand’s unique point of view and how does it appeal to consumers’ lifestyles?

I like to refer to my brands as Masstige – I bring a prestige product at an affordable price and I don’t like to talk down to a consumer. Working with master perfumers all these years and the most important fragrance houses in the world have brought prestige and a level of quality often missed in the mass world. Adding the aesthetic element with the quality of fragrance creates a win experience for the consumer and for myself as I love all my children as I refer to my products as my family.

TFF’s mission is to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance and has been driving change in the industry with #FragranceForwardTFF. How does your brand embrace these values and incorporate them into the business?

When we work with the perfumers it’s not to create a space in the category but to create an experience which is influenced by travels around the world, reading, museums, the inspiration than becomes a dialogue with the perfumers on their experience and through that magical conversation is how Slatkin + Co. delivers its rarity within Mass (Masstige).

What does it mean for your brand to join TFF as a new member and what do you hope it will help you achieve?

It is truly a dream realized! Fragrance has long been a passion of mine and the opportunity to create scents that are grounded in my beauty journey is something I am truly grateful for. I am so honored to be a part of TFF and the wonderful community of experts, founders and brand builders. I hope to be able to broaden my scent knowledge and learn from fragrance founders of diverse backgrounds. 

What is your brand’s unique point of view and how does it appeal to consumers’ lifestyles?

Relevant as a brand is clean, inclusive skincare, color and scent. Every formulation has been thoughtfully created to see and celebrate all skin tones. Many of the ingredients are inspired by my Kenyan heritage and are time honored and effective on all skin types.

13 Stems is a well-balanced, gender-neutral fragrance. includes top notes of freesia and green peppercorn; mid notes of cucumber, woody bamboo, french mimosa and violet leaf, and a base of cashmere, crisp amber and white leather. I had the great privilege of working with Robertet’s Jérôme Epinette to make this beautiful fragrance. I am so happy to work with Jérôme and the team to bring my vision to life. 

TFF’s mission is to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance and has been driving change in the industry with #FragranceForwardTFF. How does your brand embrace these values and incorporate them into the business?

My point of view is always one of inclusion. This rings true with 13 Stems, Relevant and thirteen lune. 13 Stems as a scent and story resonates with many people and inspires them to discover it and incorporate it into their everyday. It encapsulates the “bloom” most of us seek. That “aha” moment. Blooming is important, but it’s my stem that gave me the ability to co-create a brand and business that aligned my passion and purpose.

What does it mean for your brand to join TFF as a new member and what do you hope it will help you achieve?

It’s an honor to be recognized among legacy fragrance brands. It speaks to how dedicated Victoria and the team were to getting every aspect of our fragrance product and launch right. For our fragrance consumers, they will know that our presence here shows how serious we take this category. As for this storied industry, it’s incredible to be welcomed and recognized for our fragrance as a new player, it reinforces our huge ambitions for this category.

What is your brand’s unique point of view and how does it appeal to consumers’ lifestyles?

The vision for Victoria Beckham Beauty is to create a modern luxury house that becomes a cornerstone of the beauty industry overall, and that has the potential to become a heritage brand over the coming decades. Being born of a fashion house is core to our identity in color, and in fragrance, our aperture is wider – our fragrance stories are chapters of Victoria’s life. These are memories of her important life moments, all complex and all beautiful. Our scents are created with a very specific time and space, as well as the emotions surrounding them, in mind.

TFF’s mission is to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance and has been driving change in the industry with #FragranceForwardTFF. How does your brand embrace these values and incorporate them into the business?

Fragrance is a powerful and transportative art – something that Victoria recognized and honored through her approach. It deserved to feel intimate, to have its own journey of creation … it deserved to wait until every element could live up to the vision and her uncompromising standard. Victoria Beckham’s Fragrance Launch in 2023 was a true labor of love and what Victoria considers her autobiography through scent – a holistic sensory experience with campaign visuals by Steven Klein, bottle design by Ezra Perronio and collaborating with Jérôme Epinette as our “nose” in building out the fragrance collection.

An aspect of the brand’s DNA is what we call The Victoria Standard: we only create something that meets the most discerning customer’s criteria; we only finalise a product when we have achieved Victoria’s emphatic excitement to use the product. We aim for customers to experience that our products stand out in terms of excellence in all ways a product can.

What does it mean for your brand to join TFF as a new member and what do you hope it will help you achieve?

We are so excited to be part of The Fragrance Foundation alongside incredible heritage brands. It is an organization that is creating positive change in our industry. The ability to connect with and learn from other brands in the space is such a unique opportunity. To be able to share ‘Ôrəbella with our peers in our community means the world.

What is your brand’s unique point of view and how does it appeal to consumers’ lifestyles?

‘Ôrəbella introduces the skinification of fragrance, a unique and innovative approach to fine fragrance. Each intentional skin parfum is alcohol-free, hydrating, and elevated with essential oils to infuse with and last on the skin while amplifying the wearer’s aura. Going beyond cruelty-free, clean, and vegan, ‘Ôrəbella is also dermatologist tested and suitable for sensitive skin. It is inspired by nature, harnessing its healing benefits to enhance both skin and soul. Our signature bi-phase formula features two layers that moisturize skin and deliver a long-lasting fragrance immersion. With a shake-to-activate formula, the fusion of the bi-phase creates a magnetic perfume that becomes one with the skin. As consumers become more aware of the ingredients within their beauty routines, we’re proud to offer a safe and effective product to help elevate and inspire their beauty ritual.

TFF’s mission is to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance and has been driving change in the industry with #FragranceForwardTFF. How does your brand embrace these values and incorporate them into the business?

The mission of Fragrance Forward is very important to the ever-evolving fragrance industry. It promotes positive change, new ways of thinking and fosters innovation. At the core of ‘Ôrəbella we are a brand bringing a new type of fine fragrance formula + format, passion, and authenticity to the category.

What does it mean for your brand to join TFF as a new member and what do you hope it will help you achieve?

Joining TFF is an honor for Argos Fragrances, symbolizing our commitment to the highest standards of excellence and tradition in the global fragrance industry. We hope this partnership will enhance our reach, foster innovation, and allow us to contribute meaningfully to the fragrance community. 

What is your brand’s unique point of view and perspective and how does it appeal to consumers’ lifestyles?

My brand’s unique perspective blends the rich narratives of Greek and Roman mythology with modern day sophistication & elegance, creating fragrances that strike a chord with the consumers. We celebrate the past but are new age in our approach. We are unapologetically extravagant, love making bold statements, and being remembered. Our customers love this about us and resonate with it. Our storytelling, brand persona and craftsmanship appeals to individuals who value true luxury, heritage, and personal expression in their lifestyle. Building a vibrant community and showing our gratitude are at the heart of what we do, ensuring our customers feel valued and empowered in the Argos family.

 TFF’s mission is to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance and has been driving change in the industry with #FragranceForwardTFF. How does your brand embrace these values and incorporate them into the business?

 Our dedication to craftsmanship, use of cutting-edge equipment and time-honored techniques, ensures each fragrance tells a captivating story, honoring our heritage and embracing #FragranceForwardTFF’s innovative spirit. Our carefully selected raw ingredients, chosen for their meaning and purpose, ensure that every composition is unique, memorable, and satisfying. Also, I deeply value the support from our fragrance community—the experts, content creators, collectors, and loyal customers—who inspire us to give back meaningfully. Together, we strive to foster mutual support and collaboration, driving our shared passion forward.

Apr

SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL EDWARDS, DEBUTS AMERICAN LEGENDS

SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL EDWARDS, DEBUTS AMERICAN LEGENDS American Legends The Evolution of American Fragrances
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL EDWARDS, DEBUTS AMERICAN LEGENDS

SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL EDWARDS, DEBUTS AMERICAN LEGENDS American Legends The Evolution of American Fragrances
MICHAEL EDWARDS
FRAGRANCE HISTORIAN

Michael Edwards is an historian and taxonomist, a veritable walking encyclopedia of fragrance knowledge, and a good-company raconteur who always has an illuminating story to tell. His Fragrances of the World database—the largest guide to perfume classification that has ever existed—has been going nonstop since 1984, and his first book, Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances, has been a must-have for fragrance lovers since its publication in 1996. Now, his much-anticipated second compendium, American Legends, has arrived. It is a landmark moment, not only for Edwards himself, who has been researching the book for more than 20 years (many of the interviews were done when he was working on Perfume Legends), but also for the American fragrance industry, which is celebrated for its unique trajectory and global influence. Beginning with 18th-century Caswell-Massey and running through to the runaway success of Santal 33, American Legends chronicles fragrances from Old Spice to White Linen, Youth-Dew to Cashmere Mist, Jungle Gardenia to Giorgio Beverly Hills, Brut to Tommy Girl. Featuring in-depth interviews with the perfumers, bottle designers, and fragrance developers who brought these iconic scents to life, the book is comprehensive, fascinating, and quite beautiful. In the midst of his world tour, Edwards was in New York CIty as a featured guest at the TFF Awards luncheon. He also shared his wealth of knowledge at an event at FIT for students, then joined a special panel with Chris Collins moderated by Linda G. Levy.  Here Edwards spoke to ACCORDS to discuss how, ultimately, the history of perfume is about much more than what we smell in the flacon.

What was the criteria for fragrances to be included in American Legends?

Exactly the same criteria that I applied to the first book. It was limited to fragrances that introduced a new note or a technology so innovative that competitors flocked to copy it. Think for example of the Iso E Super in Halston, or Antonia’s Flowers, which pioneered Headspace technology. Or, alternatively, fragrances that made such an impact that they created a new trend. Think of Charlie in the 1970s. Before Charlie, men bought fragrance for women. After Charlie, women bought fragrance for themselves. Or Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion, which started an explosion in celebrity fragrances.

I also chose fragrances that reflected their times. Nobody talks about Bluegrass now, but before there was Lauder, before there was Rubenstein, there was Elizabeth Arden. When the stock market crashed in 1929, Elizabeth Arden soared. I found a Forbes report that said she had earned more money than any other woman in the history of America. And you might wonder why I included Demeter’s Dirt, from 1996. But it pioneered the sense of memory. If you look at Martin Margiela, for example, and the Replica scents. That goes back to Dirt.

What are some of the main ways that the story of American fragrance differs from the story of fragrance in France and elsewhere?

It’s an interesting question. American fragrances, when you smell them close up, they’re not always that pretty, but in the air they resonate. That’s the American spirit. Estée Lauder believed that women expect American fragrances to start the way they end. She had little patience with this idea of top notes, of fragrances changing over time: It has to be straight, she believed. It has to be direct.

What do you think defines an American perfume?

On the one hand, it can be loud, or even crass. On the other hand, it can be striking, innovative, and rich. In any market, you get the extremes. But in America, you get more extremes.

I start off the book by saying that to the French perfume is liquid art, to the Italians it’s liquid style, and to the Americans it’s liquid money. Nowhere else do you have the clash of art and commerce so fiercely. It was Ernest Shiftan, the father of American perfumery, who said that the history of perfumery is the history of our civilization. And he was right. Americans can be bold, striking, and direct. So can their fragrances. It’s a different style from the French.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the way it illustrates how fragrance trends reflect larger shifts in American culture.

Absolutely. I’ve found, for example, that in most people’s minds Norell was just another designer fragrance. But Norell was crucial. Until that time in America, most upscale department stores had not regarded perfume as an important category to focus on. In the 1960s, even Chanel No. 5 was a drugstore fragrance. But Norell’s success in specialty department stores was so spectacular that it forced them to reassess their thinking. It even opened the door for Estée Lauder, who launched Estée in 1968, just when these stores were starting to support fragrance. Norell also opened corporate America’s eyes to the potential of licensing designer fragrances. In the early 1970s you started to see the Halstons, the Anne Kleins, etcetera, and at the same time baby boomers, who were getting really interested in status labels, were moving to the suburbs, where department stores were being opened. By continuing to focus almost exclusively on prestigious center city stores, the French totally missed the moment—while all the American designer brands were making hay in the sunshine in the suburbs.

In his lovely introduction to your book, Leonard Lauder touches on the idea that America has changed the way the world wears fragrance. In what ways has it done this?

It has—no ifs, no buts. Charlie, for example, had a huge impact far beyond America. Brut, too, changed the world. When I was researching the Caleche by Hermès for Perfume Legends, the man who developed it told me that the original intent was to launch a fragrance for men rather than women, but there was no market in France for men’s fragrances. He said that the key was Brut—when it came along, it created the men’s business worldwide.

Look at Giorgio in the 1980s—such a potent, powerful scent—then look at Obsession. And surely America influenced Poison. We can also talk about Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion, the first of the great celebrity fragrances. It launched in 1985 and was so explosive that within the next 10 years we tracked the launch of some 600 celebrity fragrances. But that was part of the problem: In order to pay the celebrities, brands were forced to cut the quality of the juice and complaints soared. And that was why people were so open to niche fragrances when they came in. It was a unique coming together of factors that changed everything.

In American Legends, there is noticeable diversity in key roles, including brand founders, perfumers, and bottle designers. How does that reflect the spirit and development of American perfumes?

To my mind, America is far ahead of France. When you think of French female perfumers, there was Madame Z for Jeanne Lanvin back in the 1920s who did four fragrances, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that you had Germaine Cellier, who created Bandit and Fracas. Whereas America was different. Ernest Shiftan seemed very comfortable with women and deliberately encouraged them. I mean, think of [Youth Dew perfumer] Josephine Catapano. He hired her. Think of Bethy Buseé, who created Chloé, and Estée. When she came to America, Shiftan hired her as a secretary because she spoke French, but he would test everybody in his vicinity and he was struck by the sensitivity of her nose. I mean, she was a brutal perfumer. She refused to adhere to any techniques and if you didn’t like what she gave you, she’d throw it across the room. But she was a genius. Then there was Sophia Grojsman, another incredible perfumer, also IFF. Some people may say that until recently American perfumery was a man’s culture. But when you look at the sheer number of women perfumers, it’s impressive.

At TFF, DEI is the #1 priority. How do you see DEI in fragrance evolving?

It is changing, although slowly. I would anticipate that by now we would have more Black American brands, but I think I have picked up only about nine so far. We’ve seen James Bell, who did Passion, with his marvelous story, but Black perfumers have been rare. It’s silly, and overdue because the Black American and the Hispanic American are two key users of fragrances. Absolutely. So hopefully we will see a lot more of that kind of diversity, in all kinds of roles throughout the industry, which will bring in new ideas and creativity.

Mar

SPOTLIGHT: GINA BOSWELL, Chief Executive Officer & Director, Bath & Body Works

Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: GINA BOSWELL, Chief Executive Officer & Director, Bath & Body Works

Gina Boswell is a business visionary, inspirational leader, and true Woman of Action who joined Bath & Body Works as Chief Executive Officer and Director in 2022. She is also, wonderfully, a fragrance lover. For this special edition of ACCORDS, she imparts a few secrets of her success, reflects on how important scent is for experiential and emotional impact (both in life and in commerce), and shares why she brought Bath & Body Works membership back to TFF.

What is your personal connection to fragrance?

Beyond dousing my teenage self with Love’s Baby Soft fragrance mist, my personal connection to fragrance started fairly early in my career, when I first fell in love with the beauty business. Fragrance was a fascinating category to me in part because it was a much more personal one–almost like the fragrance picked the person versus the other way around. Three decades ago, I started collecting the most beautifully crafted solid perfume compacts from Estée Lauder in iconic fragrances like Beautiful and Pleasures. Some were limited edition Swarovski encrusted gold pieces that, when opened, would unleash the most incredible scent. I’ve lots of fond memories of my two daughters who might have pulled apart their Barbie dolls or drawn on them (think weird Barbie) and yet they treated these compacts like the most fragile Faberge Eggs. We moved many times as a family and the first box they’d need to secure and open would be these fragrance compacts, carefully and proudly placing them on their vanity, as if to say, we’re in our new home now.

Fragrance has been so integral to Bath & Body Works’ success. Why do you think that scent connects so much with consumers?

At Bath & Body Works, we believe in the power of fragrance – fragrance is a deeply sensorial experience that moves beyond olfactory into something much more transportive. Smell is the most evocative of all the senses, and our customers seek fragrance to transform their moods, express their identity, and connect with others. Fragrance even has the potential to unlock special memories, create new ones and
unite people over a common bond.

You have brought Bath & Body Works membership back to TFF. As TFF has expanded its scope with so many programs for the community & consumers in the last 6 years—such as Fragrance Day, media and college student outreach (Scents for Success), online education, TFF Awards, etc—what are you most excited to engage in?

We’re glad to be back and I feel like we’re reconnecting at the right time, for the industry and for our brand. As we build on the strong foundation we have today as global leaders in fragrance, staying connected and involved with The Fragrance Foundation is key. TFF is a great connector to our industry with a wealth of experts who each share unique and future-focused insights. As we continue to innovate and extend our brand reach, we see TFF as an important voice to help educate and engage consumers while elevating the industry through professional development and recognition. We’re particularly excited about the potential in TFF’s Scents for Success program. Its focus on fostering the next generation of fragrance professionals and driving diversity and inclusion is so important to the future of our industry. We look forward to seeing how our experts can take part in educating and supporting new members in our fragrance community.

What are your goals going forward regarding Bath & Body Works and fragrance?

Bath & Body Works has an excellent track record of being a fragrance-first innovator and we continue to play to our strengths. We’re uniquely positioned to deliver newness to our customers along with their familiar favorites and can do it across two dozen product forms. You’ll continue to see us celebrate our core fragrances while expanding our portfolio. I’m eager to continue working with the team to elevate our brand and expand our reach to new categories with fragrance at the center. We’re excited about the success of our expanding Men’s Shop collection. It remains one of our fastest growing product lines as more men get connected to personal care routines and incorporate scent into their daily practice. What’s equally exciting is bringing customers a full spectrum fragrance experience. We’ve played an important part in our customers’ home fragrance journey, and we’re thrilled to add to the head-to-toe routine with fragrant hair care and laundry.

What are the chief tenets of good leadership?

People need to feel empowered and comfortable making decisions, whether they are small scale decisions or larger, more creative endeavors. None of us are as smart as all of us – that’s why, regardless of where I am, I focus on being collaborative and decisive while always encouraging my team to do the same.

What advice do you give to other women who strive to become CEOs of global brands?

Don’t second guess what you bring to the table. People found it amusing that I moved from cosmetics to cars (and then back). When I made the switch, at first, I was a bit unsure of myself as someone who could not even change a flat tire, but then I realized that the company was full of people who knew about cars and that was not the perspective they needed for the future. It’s also advice that goes beyond switching industries; expanding my professional portfolio, from finance to strategy to marketing to sales, was not only rewarding but also prepared me to lead a multi-billion-dollar company.

I’m thrilled to be back in the beauty industry but would encourage anyone – regardless of career stage – to get comfortable with taking risks, especially when you want to rise. We all must be willing to go there and embrace change, especially with how much change we’re seeing in our business and in society.

To what do you attribute your own success?

While it is tough to sum it up in one word, I can tell you what’s shaped my career: I like going where the heat is- stretching myself to learn and grow along the way. I was also blessed to have an incredible network of mentors/former bosses and supporters— legends like Leonard Lauder, Jeanette Wagner, and Paul Polman to name a few. Each of them took a chance on me and showed me how to navigate the business and accelerate my learning curve. Their extraordinary energy, passion, work ethic, and legacy are something I still think about often and I do my best to pay it forward. I think much of my success has come from building on iconic brands, shining a light on what makes them iconic, and then taking them to the next level. That’s what we’re doing at Bath & Body Works.

How does your beauty industry background enhance your role at Bath and Body Works?

The beauty business brings with it a constant drumbeat of innovation and change. In the time I’ve spent in the industry, I’ve had remarkable exposure to renowned brands which helped shape me into the leader I am today. I first caught the beauty and retail bug as a management consultant focused on driving shareholder value. I then officially joined my client and it was at that point that I really began to understand the beautiful business of beauty; that is, the overall attractiveness of the business fundamentals. Few industries have such a strong emotional connection with consumers that helps support the category’s resiliency (in good times and bad times), the opportunity for brand love, and customer loyalty, not to mention the favorable structural economics in margin and profitable growth.

My experience across four beauty businesses has exposed me to literally every channel and geography where beauty and personal care brands are sold. There are differences in the various go-to-market strategies across prestige, mass, direct, or e-commerce, and certainly cultural and regional variations, but the core of beauty, with its functional and emotive benefits, is similar, and frankly transportive.

Transportive is a word we use frequently at Bath & Body Works whether describing our wonderful fragranced products or our immersive store experiences. Having recently celebrated my one-year anniversary as CEO of Bath & Body Works, this chapter might just be the most exciting yet.

What are some ways that DEI initiatives such as #FragranceForwardTFF can make Bath & Body Works better both internally and for the consumer?

We know that diversity, equity, and inclusion make us stronger, and we strive to ensure everyone is included and has equitable access and opportunity. Something I’m proud to share is our commitment to developing the next generation of perfumers through the American Chemical Society Scholars Program. This program awards renewable scholarships to undergraduate students from historically underrepresented groups majoring in fields like chemistry and perfumery.

We’re in year two of our three-year partnership and so far, we’ve donated $200,000 to this important program. As a retailer who excels in storytelling, we’re also proud to showcase the diversity of our perfumers on our in-store material and on the product package itself. Leveraging our own channels to elevate and celebrate underrepresented perfumers is critical and sets an example for the next generation. We will continue to invest in DEI not only because it’s the right thing to do for each other, but because it’s the right thing to do for our business, our associates, and our communities.

Feb

SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS COLLINS ELECTED TO TFF BOARD

SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS COLLINS ELECTED TO TFF BOARD
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS COLLINS ELECTED TO TFF BOARD

SPOTLIGHT: CHRIS COLLINS ELECTED TO TFF BOARD

Earlier this month, Chris Collins, CEO & Founder of The World of Chris Collins, was elected to The Fragrance Foundation Board of Directors and announced as the Chair of the groundbreaking new Entrepreneurial Committee, which will focus on independent brands and inclusivity within the fragrance community.

Collins launched his much-lauded The World of Chris Collins brand in 2018, creating a collection of beautifully crafted, luxurious fragrances steeped in evocative storytelling. His sophisticated vision and the unerring quality of his scents struck a chord with fragrance enthusiasts, and the brand went on to become the first black-owned fragrance line in Sephora. As a passionate and engaged member of TFF, Collins has actively participated in all aspects of #FragranceForwardTFF since its conception, in leadership roles of initiatives including TFF’s first DEI webinar, the Scents of Success program reaching colleges and universities, and the NYUL Catalyst Initiative focusing on career and talent pipeline development.

The new Entrepreneurial Committee will be launched initially with TFF members including Arquiste Parfumeur, Brown Girl Jane, Harlem Candle Co., House of Bō and The New Savant, in addition to The World of Chris Collins. The committee will focus on representing fragrance brands created between 2010 through 2020 that have scaled their businesses for rapid USA sales growth, achieved wide ranging consumer engagement, and are still led by the entrepreneurial founder.

To mark this exciting occasion, Collins shares his thoughts on how being a part of TFF has impacted the growth of his brand, why #FragranceForwardTFF has been so successful, and how he plans to lean the Entrepreneurial Committee into an even more richly diverse future.

What does joining the TFF Board as Director mean to you?

This is a monumental moment in fragrance. From being the first black-owned brand to join The Fragrance Foundation, to now being on the Board of Directors is a huge honor. It’s showing how far the fragrance industry has come.

What is the mission of the Entrepreneurial Committee?

Chairing the newly founded entrepreneurial committee will probably be my important responsibility at TFF. This committee has been created to reflect and support the most important category in the fragrance industry: The independent fragrance brands.

How did your involvement with TFF help you develop The World of Chris Collins?

To know that I had the support of President Linda and the rest of the team at TFF was vital for the development of my brand. The knowledge, resources, and support of TFF has been there since I launched.

Why do you believe that TFF membership is so important for brands of all sizes and diverse backgrounds?

I’ve always felt that TFF membership was very important for the development of smaller more diverse brands, because it gives us the opportunity to be seen alongside the bigger more established fragrance brands. I believe the smaller independent brands are the engine that powers the fragrance industry.

What are some of the ways that you have seen #FragranceForwardTFF make an
impact so far?

Since its inception, the goal to make the fragrance industry more diverse and equitable is working. There are more diverse brands in the fragrance industry than ever before. I’m so proud to see how far the industry has come. When I first joined, I didn’t see any other black or brown owned brands. Now when I look around, I see many. We’ve come so far.

Jan

SPOTLIGHT: Debbi Hartley-Triesch, Nordstrom

SPOTLIGHT: Debbi Hartley-Triesch, Nordstrom
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: Debbi Hartley-Triesch, Nordstrom

SPOTLIGHT: Debbi Hartley-Triesch, Nordstrom

New Member of TFF Executive Committee

The first ACCORDS of 2024 kicks off with new TFF Executive Committee member Debbi Hartley-Triesch, who shares her insight into the world of fragrance retail. Debbi’s extraordinary career has taken her from Nordstrom beauty advisor more than 30 years ago to her current role as EVP and GMM for Beauty and Accessories. She is a true leader and fragrance devotee, and also serves as Chair of the TFF Consumer Engagement Committee. Here, she shares her valuable perspective and predictions for the future.

What did you learn from working in many different roles over the course of your 30+ year career with Nordstrom?

Nordstrom empowers us to do whatever it takes to create the best experience for our customers. We do this by making our decisions through the lens of our customer and keeping our core purpose top of mind: to help them look good and feel their best. By prioritizing their voice and needs – reading their letters, spending time in stores, hearing feedback from our teams – has helped me keep a customer-focused mindset in everything I do.

What aspects of your job do you find especially rewarding?

Retail is such a dynamic and always evolving industry which I find very invigorating. At Nordstrom, our culture of flexibility and adaptability to meet the ever-changing retail landscape through teamwork and open communications has been very rewarding to me. I enjoy the collaborative and inclusive team environment we have to create amazing customer experiences, the ability to partner with the world’s best brands to bring our product assortment to life, and the overall Nordstrom promise of delivering exceptional service.

What are your priorities as Chair of the TFF Consumer Engagement Committee?

Our top priority is to build strong customer relationships in the fragrance category by fostering a sense of community, while also encouraging loyalty and engagement through events like The International Fragrance Day and the Fragrance Foundation Consumer Awards, new launches, marketing, social media, sampling, and more. We want to help build an enduring customer bond by creating positive experiences and meaningful connections by leveraging The Fragrance Foundation as an industry platform and a strong commitment to meeting customer needs and expectations.

What do you personally love most about fragrance?

I love that fragrance can evoke memories, enhance your mood, and express individuality. I love the way a fragrance makes me feel! Every morning I choose my scent based on what I want to accomplish that day. If I have a big presentation or important meeting, I need a scent that gives me an extra boost of confidence, or if it’s a weekend away with my family I might choose a fragrance that is calming. Scents hold a powerful emotional connection for me. It’s the finishing touch of my outfit or my invisible accessory. Fragrance creates a positive atmosphere in my life, and I never leave home without it.

How do you predict people will be shopping for fragrance five years from now?

The fragrance business has evolved so much over the past few years, but what hasn’t changed is how a fragrance makes you feel. I think we will continue to see a rise in experiential in-store activations that offer a multisensory approach to choosing and understanding fragrances. I also think the industry might see advancements in customizable and unique fragrance formulas that provide customers with more tailored and bespoke options. Other potential shifts in fragrance could be around health and wellness integration within products, personalized scent recommendations through AI, and a growing focus on sustainable and eco-friendly options.

How is the mission of #FragranceForwardTFF impactful for consumers as well as companies?

FragranceForwardTFF is a very important pledge prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion. The impact of the fragrance industry goes beyond just social responsibility, it positively influences product development, fosters innovation, market reach and the overall customer experience. At Nordstrom, we’ve long believed that we’re all made better by the diversity that exists within our communities. Our values are centered on creating a place where every customer and employee is welcome, respected, appreciated, and able to be themselves.

Dec

SPOTLIGHT: TFF BOARD OF DIRECTORS ON THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: TFF BOARD OF DIRECTORS ON THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

I’ve been fortunate to embark on a new career journey over the past year, taking on the position of Head of Givaudan Fine Fragrance North America that has positively impacted me on both a personal and professional level.

I’m deeply grateful to have had a strong support system of colleagues, clients, friends and family along every step of the journey.

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

Being grateful allows me to recognize the contribution my partners & teams have every day on the products we create and establishes an environment of trust. It allows us to take even more risks and be bolder in how we bring incrementality & newness through our craft to deliver value to our clients, the brands we work with and ultimately the end consumers.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

Fragrance is a highly personal and emotional art where perfumers (or the creators) are completely vulnerable in their craft, putting themselves on total display. The act of releasing a fragrance out into the world is something deeply meaningful. For this reason, it’s my go-to gift when expressing gratitude to my friends and loved ones.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

Personally, I am grateful for the love and overall health and happiness of my family. Professionally I am so grateful for my amazing team. This group of powerful professionals always sees what is possible and has committed to working with and for each other in order to meet our customers wherever they are. This team is not just smart and dynamic, they are kind and caring and define the true meaning of teamwork!

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

This reflection reaffirms for me that people are the most important part of the organization—having the right people in the right jobs is only part of the equation. Empowering them, providing opportunities to learn and grow, and creating consistent room for open honest conversations helps to ignite passion and inspire creativity and happiness. Happy teams are the most productive teams.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

Fragrance is all about emotion, memories and joy! I am grateful every day to work in a passion filled industry.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

As I reflect on this past year, I’m deeply humbled, grateful and proud of Ulta Beauty’s The Joy Project – a company-wide, multi-year initiative we introduced in September to help people experience more joy in their lives. With beauty and most importantly, scent, being so closely connected to emotion and self-care, it has been such an honor to be part of a movement that helps our guests silence their inner critic and embrace their most authentic selves through their beauty routines. I am proud and grateful to not only partner with incredible brands every day, but to also celebrate the role beauty plays in spreading more joy and self-expression in our world.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

In 2023, I am grateful once again for being part of such an amazing Team at IPLB. Building success as a team is the most rewarding experience. 2023 was definitely another remarkable year from that standpoint.

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

It keeps you alert on the ‘why’. Why are we dedicated to a common goal: it is for the fun, the thrill, and the achievement. A subtle secret recipe for each organization. Never lose that recipe to build the future.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

Fragrance is the perfect balance of in surface and in-depth expression. It creates a dialog, echoes personal memories, and delivers the unexpected. It is a bridge from the past, the present and the future. From a volatile whimsical and primal state of being it creates a powerful personal story. It celebrates oneself and/or the person you are gifting with one of the most sensorial experiences. A very authentic expression of gratitude.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

As I reflect on this year, there is so much I’m grateful for! I’m grateful for my husband, my kids, and our dogs, who are all happy and healthy. Professionally, I’m grateful to be surrounded by such a passionate team of people that bring positivity, collaboration, and hard work to everything they do.

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

It’s important for me to take these moments to reflect because life can get so busy, but reflection allows me to stop and thank the people around me and enter the next year having learned the lessons of the last year.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

Fragrances also help me pause and reflect on the moments I’m grateful for. For me, fragrances are connected to memories and people, and smelling them again allows me to stop, reflect and feel grateful for those memories and people again.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

I am grateful for friends and family and honestly my colleagues. I find that over 30+ years in this industry, I have been able to connect with some fabulous colleagues that have been incredibly supportive and help me realize some of my dreams.

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

I think realizing how wonderful and supportive colleagues in my industry are has inspired me to mentor and support not only my colleagues but new talent coming in. I think we are so lucky to be part of this industry.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

Actually fragrance is one of my favorite gifts during the holiday season. Fragrance helps uplift our spirits, dream of new places and experiences and elevate our well being.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

In 2023, both professionally and personally, I have been immensely grateful for the many opportunities that unfolded and the growth that ensued. I joined the Board of Directors for TFF this year and I’m thankful for the meaningful connections and collaborative spirit I have found with other industry peers. It has expanded my skillset and allowed me to dive deeper into the world of fragrance. On a personal note, whether it is the unwavering support of family or bonds forged with friends, these connections have made me realize how truly lucky I am to have amazing people in my life.

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

By reflecting on what I’m grateful for, I’m able to gain a deeper understanding of what truly matters to me. It allows me to then have a solid foundation for setting meaningful goals and make decisions aligned with my aspirations. Gratitude acts as a guiding force, shaping a future path that is not only purposeful but also rooted in the values and experiences that bring me the most fulfillment.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

A familiar scent has the remarkable ability to evoke memories and emotions, grounding me in moments of joy or connection. By associating a particular fragrance with positive experiences, it becomes a sensory trigger for gratitude, allowing me to relive and appreciate those moments. Additionally, sharing fragrances through gifts or using them to create a comforting atmosphere provides a thoughtful and expressive way to convey gratitude to others.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

I’m immensely grateful for my family’s well-being. Their support has been invaluable. The success of the Parlux business, fueled by the significant growth of brands like Billie Eilish Fragrances and Paris Hilton Fragrances, has been a significant source of professional gratitude. I’m thankful for the collaborative efforts of my teams and our business partners that have contributed to our achievements.

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

Gratitude allows me to acknowledge the strengths and successes that have brought me to this point. It’s a reminder of the resilience and dedication that underlie these achievements, guiding my decisions and aspirations.

Recognizing the value of partnerships, team efforts, and the impact of successful brand launches helps shape a path that emphasizes collaboration, innovation, and continued growth. It encourages a forward-looking approach rooted in gratitude for past accomplishments. This extends to our expansion into scent-adjacent categories, which presents an opportunity to explore new territories while staying true to our ethos and values.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

Fragrance has a unique ability to evoke memories and emotions. Certain scents carry personal significance, triggering memories of special moments or individuals. This aspect of fragrance allows for a tangible expression of gratitude, creating connections to cherished memories and experiences.

In a broader sense, fragrance can serve as a form of self-care and mindfulness. Taking a moment to appreciate and enjoy a favorite scent can promote a sense of gratitude for the simple pleasures in life and elevate one’s mood, fostering a positive mindset.

What have you been most grateful for in 2023, both personally and professionally?

The incredible success of our wonderful clients! It’s been another year of unprecedented growth all around– we’re seeing start-ups turn into global powerhouses, the legitimate return of celebrity, existing clients expand into unexpected categories and more. And to be a part of that is incredibly exciting, always fun, and makes me feel both lucky and of course immensely grateful. On a personal level, I appreciate that I’ve accepted how a consistent rhythm in living & working is no longer possible and not necessarily a bad thing.

How does taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for now help you define your path for the future?

Pausing and considering what the work & effort all means is essential, whether that’s through simple contemplation or an overt celebration – does it pay off, is it worth it? And yes, it always does, and the ongoing successes inspire us all to keep moving forward and working hard to find new reasons to celebrate.

How does fragrance help you experience or express gratitude?

Fragrance has always been my escape, never failing to transport and distract and always brings me unadulterated, pure joy. If it can deliver on all this for me, I trust it does the same for others and so expressing gratitude comes by way of gifting fragrance, of course.

Nov

SPOTLIGHT: SCENTS OF SUCCESS: THE CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK

SPOTLIGHT: SCENTS OF SUCCESS: THE CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: SCENTS OF SUCCESS: THE CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK

SPOTLIGHT: SCENTS OF SUCCESS: THE CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK

Scents of Success is one of the most important and impactful DEI initiatives for #FragranceForwardTFF, sharing guidance and information about careers in fragrance with students at universities across the country through lively panel discussions and workshops. At the return for its 2nd Scents of Success event in October, TFF and The City College of New York welcomed an accomplished duo of L’Oréal Groupe team members (both of whom are also TFF Notables) to talk about their experiences, challenges, and accomplishments with students. Led by Professor Lynne Scott Jackson, Distinguished Lecturer – Ad/PR Program Director of Internships, Industry Relations & Professional Development Media & Communication Arts Program, CCNY, the inspirational duo – Solange Silva, Director of Marketing Lancôme Fragrances and Tripta Holtz, Senior Fragrance Evaluator L’Oréal—gave an in-depth look at L’Oréal’s brands and career opportunities, while also sharing their personal stories.

For this month’s Accords, the participants reflect on what made the event especially meaningful.

What do you think was most valuable about the Scents of Success workshop/ Initiative?

TFF Scents of Success helps students understand how they can be part of the vast fragrance industry. It’s as simple as a class visit, with TFF Members sharing insider experiences that give students “a day in the life of” knowledge about how their skills and interests might apply to the fragrance industry.

Guest speakers provide an important window for CCNY students, helping them Access Excellence, aligned with the CCNY mission. Our students are eager to ask questions and learn about the fragrance industry and how execs have transitioned through different roles that led them to a career in the fragrance industry. The Ad/PR Program applauds TFF & TFF members who are willing to give their time, talent and attention to our students. Once they are turned on to what they can do in the fragrance industry, they’re hooked! We can always count on TFF – Scents of Success to value the essence of our students’ education as they transition to the work world.

This exemplifies the aura of a meaningful partnership, rooted in a willingness to help students build successful careers. We respect and value TFF’s commitment.

In what ways do you think it piqued the interest and inspired CCNY students?

From observing and contributing, students refine skills learned in the classroom and begin to understand how they might fit in the fragrance industry. Nothing can replace 1×1 interactions with Manhattan-NYC, national and fragrance industry executives—opening our students’ minds and hearts to not only what is possible—but what they CAN achieve with persistence, perseverance and resilience.

The opportunity to informally chat with execs from leading L’Oréal brands and other TFF members is transformative. Often, students believe their experience won’t translate to what iconic companies need in their day-to-day operations. While our students are savvy, contemporary New Yorkers or international students, they’re still 20-something college students who are at the start of their careers. This includes the need for a real world, crash course introduction to the hyper-competitive, “heady” world of marketing, fragrance development and multinational businesses in the USA’s largest city.

Scents of Success provides exposure to careers in the fragrance industry and beyond realizing there are a wide range of careers in the fragrance industry that might utilize their skills

What were the students most keen to learn about?

The individual journeys and career growth of executives 5 – 10 – 15 years out of college as well as understanding that it is doable as evidenced by CCNY Alum Erika Cruz-Vasquez’s class of 2023 ascent as an Events Coordinator, LVMH Fragrance Brands.

What did you most enjoy about participating in Scents of Success?

I loved seeing their excitement in discovering that working in the fragrance industry is a possibility for them and their eagerness to learn more about it.

What do you think inspired the students most about your career path?

I hope they were able to see that there is a place for diversity in this industry with me being a foreign woman, with an accent, from a Latin American country. I also believe they could relate to the fact that I was exposed to the possibility of working in the fragrance industry around their age and like many of them I was also working full time while attending college.

What were some of your own takeaways from the CCNY event? 

I came back from the CCNY event so refreshed, it was a wonderful reminder of how exceptional our industry is and a personal reminder of how special it is to be part of it.

What did you most enjoy about participating in Scents of Success?

Solange and I got the unique opportunity to speak with a room full of CCNY students at the Scents of Success event series. We shared with them our identity maps and career paths and talked about the key stakeholders in product development at L’Oreal. We also shared advice on how they could put their best foot forward while applying for such roles and what to expect when they get in. I really enjoyed the Q&A that followed and was fueled by their engagement and active participation. We could have easily made a day of it! Having never had such an opportunity as a student myself, it was most important and rewarding for me to step into that role for the next generation of professionals.

What details about your life and career experiences do you think most resonated with students?

As with most people in our industry, my career path has been quite unique. While our individual journeys are unique, the lessons we learn tend to be the same. I actively sought out this industry when I was in high school. However, I didn’t know anyone in it. Getting my foot in the door was the biggest challenge for me, but I didn’t give up. I have also had my fair share of rejection through the years and have had to advocate for myself at every stage of my life and career. Fighting for what I truly believe in and not giving up are some virtues that truly make me, me. I believe that similar life lessons also resonated with the students we met at CCNY. They all seemed driven by determination and passion, and I believe those are necessary traits to thrive in our industry.

What were some of your own takeaways from the CCNY event?

It was most inspiring to meet the CCNY students who are interested in a career in beauty and fragrance. Our industry is lucky to have so much diverse talent to choose from. The next generation is brimming with potential! I wish the best to every one of them. I am so excited to see them in the industry and to work alongside such brilliant and curious minds in the years to come.

Jun

SPOTLIGHT: NICOLAS HIERONIMUS – HALL OF FAME

SPOTLIGHT: NICOLAS HIERONIMUS – HALL OF FAME
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: NICOLAS HIERONIMUS – HALL OF FAME

SPOTLIGHT: NICOLAS HIERONIMUS – HALL OF FAME

At the 2023 Fragrance Foundation Awards on June 15th, The Fragrance Foundation honored Nicolas Hieronimus, L’Oréal’s CEO, with its prestigious Hall of Fame Award. A major player in the fragrance industry for more than a decade—and the 6th CEO of the L’Oréal Groupe in its 113-year history—Hieronimus’s accomplishments cannot be understated.

Beginning in 2011 as President of the L’Oréal Luxe Division, Hieronimus’ unique vision paved the way for L’Oréal to become the world’s fine fragrance leader. Iconic fragrances such as Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle, Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium and Libre, and Si by Armani were introduced with great success under his leadership, and his forward-looking focus on sustainability and technology ensures that L’Oréal will continue to thrive and inspire into the future.

How does it feel to be honored with the TFF Hall of Fame award?

I am personally very honored to receive this prestigious award from The Fragrance Foundation. Fragrance is a very important pillar of our French heritage and L’Oréal has an important role to play as the world leader in fine fragrance.

I humbly believe this award is also a collective recognition of the passion, dedication, and fragrance know-how of our teams, it’s a great tribute to all the fragrance teams at L’Oréal.

What have been the most impactful actions you’ve taken that have resulted in L’Oreal becoming so successful in fragrance?

I chose to bet on 3 important elements: quality, creativity, and experts’ collaboration. I empowered the team to over-invest in the quality of ingredients and concentration. This was also true for bottle designs. I pushed for creativity and uniqueness in all elements of the mix including naming and advertising. A fragrance, even a blockbuster, needs to create emotions and be memorable. It cannot be mainstream. And this could only be achieved with a unique collaboration of all our in-house experts and our external partners. I am referring to our dedicated in-house fragrance team, who orchestrates all our fragrance creations in partnership with the greatest fine fragrance houses, our marketing creative minds, and our in-house industrial teams partnering with the greater glass manufacturers. A magnificent orchestra.

Over the past decade or so we have built an unparalleled portfolio of complementary and aspirational luxury fragrances. I’m very proud to see our iconic launches, like La Vie Est Belle, Black Opium, Si or Libre are such incredible success stories.

What are some of the ways that L’Oreal is leading the fragrance category into the future?

As a leader, L’Oréal has always had a strong ambition to lead the future of fragrance, which like the rest of the beauty industry, is increasingly being driven by sustainability and technology.

We’ve also been exploring the power of cutting-edge technology to enhance the fragrance experience for customers. For example, with Scent Station by Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, which helps customers find their perfect fragrance by analyzing their emotional olfactory profiles.

Why do you think that fragrance is so important in the beauty world as a whole?

Fragrance plays such an important role in fostering individual wellbeing and contributing positively to society and culture.

Throughout history fragrance has had the power to stimulate our senses, our memories and our emotions and it can be linked also to self-confidence and mental wellness. We’re seeing today, post pandemic, that fragrance is perhaps more relevant than ever, because it helps us connect with ourselves and with others.

What is your personal connection with fragrance?

I have a deep love for fragrances – for me, like music, creating a great fragrance is more than just choosing the right combination of notes, or accords. It amazes me how different notes can be combined, like a symphony, to create harmonies that are original, memorable and have the ability to connect with people.

Given the nature of my role, I’m constantly trying new and different fragrances. Yet, I have to admit that I’ve a soft spot for Armani Privé’s Cyprès Pantelleria and the new YSL masculine fragrance to be launched next fall…

How do you personally and professionally stand for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

This is a topic that is very close to my heart. A more inclusive world is also a fairer, more empathic world. A world that is open to more perspectives is awash with creativity. As a leader, I’ve seen first-hand that diverse teams with a range of different perspectives create more interesting products.

But it’s more than just the composition of our teams, we need to ensure that DE&I is reflected in everything we do – from product development through to representation in advertising. That way we can satisfy all beauty needs and desires in their infinite diversity and deliver ‘beauty for each’.

What do you think is the most exciting thing about perfume right now, and what do you predict in the coming years?

I’ve been fascinated to see the rapid regrowth of perfume post-pandemic – it’s a real testament to the social nature of the fragrance category. We can now see fragrance playing an increasing role in boosting both well-being and self-indulgence.

As we look towards the future, I believe that innovation will complement the traditional creative process. Advances in technology such as AI will help us boost creativity, invent new ingredient combinations, build new fragrance experiences in store, and capture new consumers outside of the traditional channels.

I look forward to some exciting times ahead!

May

SPOTLIGHT: VERA WANG – THE TRAILBLAZER

SPOTLIGHT: VERA WANG – THE TRAILBLAZER
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: VERA WANG – THE TRAILBLAZER

SPOTLIGHT: VERA WANG – THE TRAILBLAZER

Vera Wang’s impact on American fashion cannot be understated. A former figure skater and Vogue editor, she revolutionized and modernized bridalwear when she opened her first boutique in 1990—and she has since brought her unerring good taste to everything from eyewear to tableware, bedding to jewelry, even to vodka. She has also been prolific in the world of perfume: her beloved fragrances—nearly 30 of which have launched since the first, Vera Wang, debuted in 2002—transcend the Big Day to become lifetime signature scents. Here, the iconic designer, who was recently awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Biden, reflects on her surpassingly successful career, and shares why she believes that perfume is the ultimate accessory.

What did your experience as a skater and early career as an editor bring to your sensibility as a designer?

Skating gave me a physical ability that’s quite rare in the fashion world. And before I ever went into fashion, I was already involved in fashion, because skating is probably the only sport in which your performance involves how you look, how you dress, what the choreography is, and what the music is. That’s not so different from putting together a fashion show.

As a fashion editor, I was exposed to more fashion in one run through at Vogue than most people see in a lifetime. You’re sitting there for eight hours, and there’s clothing from all over the world. It’s tried on, discussed, evaluated. Is it good enough for the magazine? Is it something that’s going to create a story? Is there a trend? Fashion, for me, is so much about line. It’s about the body. Lyricism, sensuality. I’m so connected to my own body because of my history. Every designer brings something from their life to their work. I brought 22 years of using my body for expression, and using my mind.

What do you think it was about your early wedding dress designs that struck such a chord with people?

I was the girl who was never getting married. I got engaged at the ripe old age of 38 and three quarters. We didn’t even have time to arrange a wedding, we were both so busy working. And when I went wedding dress shopping… well, you can imagine. I didn’t intend to wear a traditional wedding gown, which, at that time, was basically a uniform, with all kinds of frilly things and leg of mutton sleeves. I just couldn’t relate to any of it, and most of the other women getting engaged were 15 years younger than me. So I ended up designing something and having it made. That’s how it all started. I realized there was an opportunity to bring an editorial eye, and a real fashion sensibility, to bridal.

You recently received a National Medal of Arts from President Biden. How did it feel to be recognized with such an honor?

The United States has been so prolific in its contribution to all the arts and humanities, and to sports, it’s incredible. And when you think of getting a medal from the President, for the arts, it’s a bit surreal, I thought of all the other people that should have gotten it instead of me. So many American fashion designers have made such great contributions to making American style so influential. I’ll cite two of my friends: Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren, my ex-boss. They exported American culture to the world. What’s even more ridiculous is that I was the first one to get an award for fashion, because I presume fashion had never been considered an art.

But have you ever tried to dress a woman’s body, a real, live woman? Have you ever tried to change her life or envision her in a different way? If that’s not an art form, I don’t know what is. I am really proud that I was awarded this medal for that reason, because my whole life has been devoted to, hopefully, making women feel comfortable and not intimidated by fashion.

How has your Chinese American heritage enriched your life and work?

I grew up having to be a blend of cultures. Chinese families have a very distinct culture. It’s based on respect for elders, on discipline, hard work, tenacity, humility, and being grateful for opportunities. You don’t forget that kind of upbringing. And you do bring that along with you, throughout your life. I felt very grateful to have gotten the job at Vogue. And grateful to have gotten a job at Ralph. And grateful for having had the opportunity to create my own company, and to have had people understand what I was trying to do.

What do you love most about fragrance?

First of all, it conjures up memories. There’s a sensuality of fragrance that you feel, and you experience, but so do people around you. It’s a way to communicate. It’s about mood and individuality, and self-expression. In a way, fragrance is the ultimate accessory. And I think that it’s sexy. I remember whenever I used to work really late, and when I had a dinner date or something, I would just put on a bit of fragrance. Some women do lipstick, but for me it was always fragrance. I would just put a bit behind my ears, and I would transition from a frantic workday to feeling feminine, and ready to go out.

What role does it play in your daily life?

It’s an every day, every way type of thing for me. I always put something on in the morning. And when I’m going out at night, I always remember to spritz myself, because it puts me in a different place. That’s what’s so amazing about fragrance. It can do that for you, just like music can.

There are friends of mine who have their scent. And there are friends of mine who like to explore. I think fragrance has evolved. The new generations are a bit more adventurous, and they like to find new things. There’s more flexibility. But it’s also their lifestyle and seasonality, the occasion. Lots of girls like lighter in summer. Many other things start to enter into their choices of scents, I think, from what I have experienced with all the women around me.

What differentiates a bridal fragrance from any other scent?

The enormity of the event. It takes on so much emotion on your wedding day. It takes on a very different symbolism. God knows, I’ve attended enough weddings, and done enough weddings. I don’t know how many thousand I’ve done in 34 years, but I do know that scent plays such a significant role because it’s something that you’ll remember, probably, forever. It immediately conjures up where you were, what you were doing, how you felt. And hopefully, those are wonderful memories.

What is your process when you’re working with perfumes and fragrance?

It’s always different. I’ve done a lot of fragrances. When the first Vera Wang fragrance came out it was a stronger fragrance than what was popular at the time. But I had been brought up and raised in the French fragrance tradition, so I felt that it was more authentic for me to do a fragrance that was a bit stronger. I remember working on it was such an education. It was smelling different trials, testing, having the coffee beans there, spraying it all over your body, your wrist, your finger, your elbow, your arm, your neck. It was a labor of love.

And every perfumer works differently. Of course, I had my own story that was from my past, and from my youth, and from my education. But starting with that first fragrance, I began to learn about top notes, dry downs. I’m always learning. And certainly, fashion changes in fragrance as well. Sometimes women don’t want musky or heavy, they want something very light or they want unisex. Things evolve. That’s what makes it so challenging, but it also gives you a chance to be creative.

Among your Vera Wang fragrances, what’s your favorite?

It’s like asking which is your favorite child! I really did love my first one. And Princess came out of a personal story. I was driving my daughters around West Palm Beach, and they had all their friends with them. I had about five girls in the back seat. I think they must have been eight to 10 years of age. And I’m thinking, at the same time, of a new fragrance concept. And I said, “What do you think about ‘Princess?'” And they started screaming in the car. Because obviously, they all wanted to be Disney princesses. They all wanted to wear crowns. And so we got Vera Wang Princess. It was never meant to be about royalty, per se. It was such a bigger concept. There is no limitation to what the word “Princess” can be. Rock Princess, the next one, was inspired by the movie Almost Famous, and the love of music in this country, young people, garage bands, flannel shirts, guys on skateboards, suburbia. And every single Princess that followed… from Princess Night, about going clubbing, to Preppy Princess, which was about girls in kilt skirts and blazers, like Gossip Girl… was different but touched on something in popular culture.

And now we have Rock Princess 2023.

Yes, a relaunch of Rock. It’s a very different time now. Guys aren’t all running around in flannel shirts on skateboards. There are cell phones, there’s Coachella. I felt it’s got to be much more about the influence of rappers, the star power of the Beyonces and Rihannas of this world. It’s really about being cool, being glamorous, the love of makeup and nails and glitz, and all these things that did not exist 20 years ago. I said, “If we’re going to bring Rock back, it’s got to be a different Rock.”

What are your plans for future scents?

We have another scent in the pipeline. It is not part of the Princess family, and I think it’s incredibly exciting. It has a different price point. It’s higher, with more essential oils. It’s got its place, I think, with the brand, because we really span from accessible to haute couture. So I think that it’s the right time for this to happen. I can’t say any more yet… but it’s coming.

How do you support the Fragrance Foundation’s DEI initiative, #FragranceForwardTFF?

First of all, I think that Linda Levy has done an insane job. I have to give her kudos. She has been nothing but supportive of me, and a very good advisor, as she is to all, in this business. Anything that we can do as a brand, anything I can do as a designer, and a woman, and someone has been lucky enough to work in the fragrance industry—we’re going to do whatever we can to be supportive of Linda and the Fragrance Foundation’s work. Linda is just unstoppable. I say that in the most complimentary way. It was not just a position for her, it’s a calling. And I think every fragrance firm would agree. She has gained enormous respect from the entire industry, because she is someone who believes so passionately in this industry and what can be done to make it better. It’s refreshing. And it’s encouraging, and it’s exciting.

Apr

SPOTLIGHT: INDIE FRAGRANCE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

SPOTLIGHT: INDIE FRAGRANCE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: INDIE FRAGRANCE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

SPOTLIGHT: INDIE FRAGRANCE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

On April 5th, TFF celebrated the big reveal of 2023 Award Finalists at a festive lunch at Cipriani 42nd Street, hosted by TFF President Linda G. Levy and Author and TV Personality on Spectrum News NY1, Cheryl Wills. Wills effused about her love of fragrance and the role it plays in her life, and a special moment was reserved to present her inspirational book, Emma, which was given to attendees at the event’s close. Among the many big announcements of the day—Anne Flipo will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the June Awards ceremony. Previously announced, Nicolas Hieronimous, L’Oréal CEO, will be honored with the Hall of Fame Award. At the luncheon, the Finalists in 19 categories were named, as were the winners in 5 categories. Here, we spotlight Four of the Indie Fragrance of the Year Finalists, intriguing and expressive perfumes that embody the limitless creativity and passion that smaller brands bring to the world of scent.

What does it mean for you to be nominated for the TFF Indie Fragrance of the Year Award?

It is an honor to be nominated, especially among so many other deserving and innovative fragrance brands in the Indie category. We are excited Ink has resonated with so many, just like the art of tattooing this fragrance was inspired by.

What is the philosophy/guiding principle behind Akro as a brand?

Akro began when founder Anaïs Cresp was living in London. She became enraptured by the scents around her; by the flower stalls, coffee houses, charcoal grills, by the whiskey and leather of the grand old Irish pubs and the inescapable haze of weed in the air.

After a long, lost summer of indulging in everything the city had to offer, Anaïs hit on an idea; that these distinctive aromas could be bottled and turned into fragrances. Anaïs turned to her father, Master Perfumer Olivier Cresp at Firmenich, and together they began to share ideas, stories and eventually scents. Soon enough, Akro was born.

What do you believe makes Ink particularly special?

Everyone remembers their first tattoo; the fear, the sensation, the adrenaline rush, the futile attempts to hide it from your parents…

For those who’ve fallen under the spell of this ancient art, it’s much more than a bit of body decoration; it’s a reminder of a time, a place – a fleeting moment that becomes a permanent memento. In many ways, a good fragrance works similarly – something you carry on your skin, to remind you of who you were at a moment in time. At Akro, we’ve always been fascinated by the parallels between tattoos and perfumery, which is why we’ve created Ink.

What does it mean for you to be nominated for the TFF Indie Fragrance of the Year Award?

It is a great pleasure and an honor, all the team involved here is giving its best, so it’s a great reward for us to be recognized again this year.

What was the inspiration behind Santal Calling?

With French perfumer Antoine Maisondieu at Givaudan, we tried to translate our fascination for this precious and almost mystical note.

How to mix contemporary Parisian inspirations with this iconic ingredient to create a bright and soothing scent that leads to an ultimate addiction.

How do you want people to feel when they smell it?

I don’t know if all the addictions are comfortable, but this is what we wanted to create: an ultimate skin fragrance, urban, protective, reinsuring but also very sensual and totally mesmerizing. We want them to feel ultimately comfortable with it, we want people to be addicted to the notes.

What does it mean for you to be nominated for the TFF Indie Fragrance of the Year Award?

Matiere Premiere is still very new to North America, so it is a thrill and privilege to have our newest scent, Crystal Saffron, recognized in this way. We are excited to be included and congratulate all the nominees in the indie category and beyond.

What is the philosophy/guiding principle behind Matiere Premiere?

Our mission is in our name, MATIERE PREMIERE is the French for raw material. The best natural ingredients are selected from around the world, favoring ethical and organic channels. MATIERE PREMIERE perfumes contain between 85% and 92% natural ingredients, and they are vegan and phthalate free.

Aurélien Guichard, Founder and Perfumer at Takasago, also produces the house’s own roses and tuberoses at an organic farm in the Grasse region of France.

What inspired Crystal Saffron?

“I wanted to create a fragrance built around an overdose of natural Saffron, like never before.” – Aurélien Guichard, Founder and Perfumer of the House

Saffron Oil Greece is the main and extremely precious ingredient of Crystal Saffron. It is obtained from the dried stigmas of hundreds of thousands of crocus flowers, grown under the unique sun and light of Greece in the Kozani region, and is considered to be the most qualitative saffron in the world.

What does it mean for you to be nominated for the TFF Indie Fragrance of the Year Award?

It is a great honor to be nominated. I’ve been wearing Le Gris for years before bringing it to market and it’s fulfilling to see it received by the community with the same enthusiasm I feel for it.

What do you believe makes Le Gris particularly special?

Pascal Gaurin at IFF is a brilliant perfumer, and with Le Gris, he has managed to make something so complex and distinguishable; There’s a single-pointedness I find really addicting in it. It lifts me up.

What is its place in the Taffin collection as a whole?

It’s a widely appealing scent. The freshness is attractive to many, and the woods and bergamot notes connect with those who prefer stronger scents. It’s well rounded both olfactively and in terms of who is drawn to it.

Mar

SPOTLIGHT: INSPIRING WOMEN LEADERS

SPOTLIGHT: INSPIRING WOMEN LEADERS
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: INSPIRING WOMEN LEADERS

SPOTLIGHT: INSPIRING WOMEN LEADERS

March brings us the joy of Fragrance Day, and it is also International Women’s History Month. To celebrate this important recognition of women’s contribution across all fields, and in keeping with #FragranceForwardTFF, TFF President Linda G. Levy spoke to two very inspiring leaders in the fragrance industry: Sabrya Meflah, President, Fine Fragrance IFF, and Tricia Butler, President, Givenchy and Kenzo, North America LVMH. In video segments that made their debut as part of TFF’s Fragrance Day Virtual Event on March 21st, Levy joined Meflah and Butler to discuss their career trajectories, accomplishments, and goals for the future. For this month’s ACCORDS, they take the time to reflect upon team building, mentorship, and the future of women in the fragrance industry (spoiler alert: it smells bright!).

You have been at IFF for 27 years in different roles. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the company and industry?

When I started at IFF, I was impressed to see so many empowered women who were making the industry: Mrs Lauder first and foremost, and in Europe women like Vera Strubi, Chantal Roos, Patricia Turcq Paquelier… These women deeply transformed the perfume industry. On the fragrance creation side, while the industry was mostly made up of male perfumers, IFF had a very different position from that of its competitors: perfumers like Josephine Catapano had shaped the American perfume industry, working with Mrs Lauder to create Youth Dew. Sophia Grojsman had created some of the blockbusters of the 80’s and 90’s, from Beautiful and Trésor to Eternity and Paris, paving the way for a new generation of empowered female perfumers who then joined our ranks as I started into IFF.  

These young female perfumers are now master perfumers, VP perfumers, and continue to be a role model for the next generation. We also have a strong corporate commitment, heralded by Franc Clyburn, IFF CEO: by 2030, 50% of our senior executives across IFF will be women. 

How do you foster an environment with your team so that they feel that anything is possible?

This is how I was brought up, by a mother who taught me that indeed, anything is possible, if you will it. That is my almost obsessional message to my team: if you will it, if you really will it, it is in your hands to make it happen. And I trust them completely, to make anything happen. 

What challenges do you think that women in the fragrance industry specifically face?

I don’t see specific challenges relating to our industry for women. I believe this is an industry where they have been empowered for a while now. However, there is still a glass ceiling, when I look at the small number of female CEOs. 

The beauty industry seems to be a very fertile ground when it comes to equality and diversity, if only because it is dedicated to beauty, men as much as women. It is a rallying industry and not a dividing one. Fragrance knows no borders, no race, no gender: its inclusive powers are limitless. 

Fragrance creation mirrors society, its evolution, much faster than many other industries: so let’s embrace its full diversity!

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe everyone on our team is there because they add value and their voice matters. Communication – open, honest, thoughtful and kind, is critical and necessary to get the best out of everyone. Leadership and ownership from every chair builds a sense of belonging and commitment to the brand and to the team at large. We have been working hard to remove the standard hierarchical approach so often found in office settings in order to help us be nimble and develop skills and strategic thought processes at every level. Trust is critical and no one wins alone. I believe success is a team sport.

How do you help people find their voice and feel empowered in your team?

The short answer is you have to level the playing field. Actually accomplishing this though, really takes a lot of effort and requires the whole team to be on board in order for the forum to be a true “safe” space for EVERYONE. For me this goes back to building a culture of honest communication and feedback, in real time, on the spot. We encourage everyone on the team to have conversations with the teammate that is the subject matter expert (or can solve or remove the roadblock), this means ideas, concerns and even tough conversations. We created a Call to Courage, together as a group – we have it printed and shared it with everyone. We committed to: Leading ourselves and others with empathy, curiosity and from a place of learning (not judging). We agreed that we would have tough conversations (or provide feedback), in real time with Kindness and Clarity. And we committed to consistent collaborations and communication in order to foster a Culture of Trust. We are a work in progress but have all identified accountability partners to keep us focused and honest with ourselves as well as the others.

What is your advice for women who are embarking on careers in the fragrance industry?

I think that the path for everyone may look a little bit different but first, you need to have real clarity of what is important to you – the values that light you up and find a company/team that is similar in those focuses. This is the single best way to guarantee you look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work. Then I would say identify 1-2 people that you want to learn from and ask them to be a mentor (I believe peer mentorship is as important as having someone in that Sponsorship role) and spend scheduled quality time with them. I believe we are incredibly lucky to be in this industry, for the fact that the majority of the leaders want to share, want to build for the future and truly believe in investing in talent!

Feb

SPOTLIGHT: NEW YORK URBAN LEAGUE: TFF CATALYST AWARD

SPOTLIGHT: NEW YORK URBAN LEAGUE: TFF CATALYST AWARD NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 15: (L-R) Jerry Vittoria, Linda Levy, Arva R. Rice, and Helen Shelton attend a luncheon hosted by the New York Urban League to honor Linda G. Levy and The Fragrance Foundation @ Champions 2023 on February 15, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Fragrance Foundation)
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: NEW YORK URBAN LEAGUE: TFF CATALYST AWARD

SPOTLIGHT: NEW YORK URBAN LEAGUE: TFF CATALYST AWARD NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 15: (L-R) Jerry Vittoria, Linda Levy, Arva R. Rice, and Helen Shelton attend a luncheon hosted by the New York Urban League to honor Linda G. Levy and The Fragrance Foundation @ Champions 2023 on February 15, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Fragrance Foundation)

On February 15th, The Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy was honored with the first-ever Catalyst Award from the New York Urban League. Presented at New York City’s Plaza Hotel during the NYUL 2023 Champions of Diversity Event, it was a thrilling moment for Levy and a momentous recognition of her leadership in advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the fragrance industry.

The New York Urban League is one of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, dedicated to furthering economic empowerment, career development, job training, education, mentorship and health advocacy for New York’s underserved BIPOC communities. This year’s Champions of Diversity celebration kicked off with a breakfast and morning Symposium that included insightful sessions on Leading While Black and Brown, with Chris Collins of World of Chris Collins among the panelists, and Emerging Trends in DEI, for which TFF’s Executive Director Sharné C. Jackson shared her knowledge and expertise alongside Corey Smith from LVMH, Sharon Foretia from Blackrock, and Chris Metzler from National Urban League.

Joined by more than 250 leaders from the fragrance industry and beyond, the Champions Awards presentations took place over a lunch hosted by Arva Rice, President and CEO of New York Urban League, emceed by WNBC-TV anchor David Ushery, and chaired by Helen C. Shelton, Global Chief Diversity Officer at FINN Partners and NYUL Board Member. Levy’s Catalyst Award was accompanied with a video tribute in which friends and colleagues praised her vision and commitment to galvanizing DEI within the fragrance industry, including Fragrance Society Founder Tiff Benson; Tricia Butler, President, Givenchy and Kenzo, North America, LVMH; Chris Collins, Founder World of Chris Collins; Ann Gottlieb, President, Anne Gottlieb Associates; Sharné Jackson, Executive Director, TFF; Nicole Monson, Senior Vice President, Estée Lauder Companies; Giancarlo Pérez and Bernardo Möller, founders, House of Bō; Linda Song, senior perfumer, Givaudan; and, Jerry Vittoria, TFF’s Board Chairman and President, Fine Fragrance Worldwide, Firmenich.

Levy’s TFF presidency has been defined by her tenacious drive to equalize and democratize the industry, expanding TFF membership and spearheading #FragranceForwardTFF, the sweeping initiative that launched in October 2021. Just as she has reshaped the goals of TFF to direct the organization towards an equitable future in which all voices are heard, she has inspired the industry to take a pledge to increase workplace diversity and create career and educational opportunities through mentorships, scholarships, proactive recruitment and allyship. As Vittoria states in his tribute, “Linda has always been a catalyst of change, a catalyst of courage and a catalyst of doing the right thing. She puts DEI at the forefront of all TFF activities and is dedicated to bringing people together and opening the door for the exciting possibilities that the fragrance industry offers.”

The day was a triumph and inspiration for attendees as well as for Levy’s fellow Champions Awards recipients: Kim Davis, Senior Executive Vice President, National Hockey League, who was named Leadership Champion; HR&A Advisors, named Champion in Recruitment, Retention & Belonging; Clarissa Moses-Washington, Manager of DEI, JetBlue Airways, named Rising Star Champion; and Kenneth Ebie, Executive Director, Black Entrepreneurs NYC, named Equity & Inclusion Ambassador. And, in keeping with TFF’s ongoing drive to forge new initiatives that create lasting change, the NYUL 2023 Champions of Diversity Event introduced the Fragrance Foundation Catalyst Initiative, a partnership that will benefit NYUL’s Diversity Lab and provide training, career development, mentorship, and job opportunities for professionals of color interested in careers in the fragrance industry. The initiative is supported by all 200+ TFF member companies in a focused effort, including Fragrance Houses, Brands, Retailers and related businesses.

Jan

SPOTLIGHT: NEW BOARD MEMBERS: VERANE de MARFFY, LORI SINGER & AGNES LANDAU

SPOTLIGHT: NEW BOARD MEMBERS: VERANE de MARFFY, LORI SINGER & AGNES LANDAU
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: NEW BOARD MEMBERS: VERANE de MARFFY, LORI SINGER & AGNES LANDAU

SPOTLIGHT: NEW BOARD MEMBERS: VERANE de MARFFY, LORI SINGER & AGNES LANDAU

TFF is hitting the ground running in 2023, planning the year’s exciting events (stay tuned) and kicking off another 12 months of community, communication and commitment to #FragranceForwardTFF. We are also welcoming new faces to the TFF Board of Directors, a group of esteemed individuals whose experience, ideas and talent are vital to TFF and all we hope to achieve. For the January Spotlight of ACCORDS, three new board members—Agnes Landau, Lori Singer, and Verane de Marffy–each of whom oversee multiple brands and unite multiple voices, take a moment to share their thoughts on being newly elected to represent their company and how they intend to drive TFF’s vision and DEI mission forward in the coming year.

Why are you most excited to represent your company on the TFF board?

L’Oréal is now the #1 luxury fragrance company in the US and I am extremely proud to be celebrating my 20th year with the group. Having worked on some of the top brands in our industry like Ralph Lauren and Yves Saint Laurent Fragrances, L’Oréal has always commanded the highest standards for our fragrances, from sourcing responsibly to deeply respecting each perfumer, to ensuring the quintessential essence of each brand. Our teams at L’Oréal are profoundly committed to creating Fragrances that engage, educate and bring joy to consumers. Now, L’Oréal is putting sustainability at the heart of its vision. TFF is the premiere representative of our community and shares the same values as L’Oréal. By joining the board, I can work with other amazing leaders to help create programs and actions that help advance both L’Oréal’s and the TFF’s missions.

How does your business align with TFF’s mission to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance?

First of all, we have the credibility, the scale, the resources and the responsibility to drive TFF’s mission. From Lifestyle brands like Ralph Lauren, to Couture brands like Prada to the Collection brands like Maison Margiela, L’Oréal’s extremely wide portfolio allows us to drive that passion and engagement for people from all backgrounds. Fragrance is a luxury but it should be inclusive and make everyone dream. With our retail partners especially, we work together to bring the best quality and experience of fragrances to all.

In what ways can you commit & take action for positive advances for DEI with #FragranceForwardTFF?

I am particularly excited about supporting TFF’s mission to break barriers for people of all backgrounds to launch, grow and sustain careers in fragrances. This is probably the biggest opportunity for our industry today. DEI also happens to be a key priority for the L’Oréal group. Personally, I have already committed to recruiting even more diversity in my team, which is particularly key as we look to ensure that our fragrances respect the needs and perspectives of our end consumer. Another way to take action is to ensure that our campaigns have diverse representation. A recent example is the renovation of the Ralph Lauren Romance campaign, which has traditionally featured a Caucasian straight couple and now stars a bi-racial lesbian couple. I feel extremely proud of this move, especially since the Ralph Lauren brand has always been a very active supporter of LGBTQA+ rights. Finally, I have volunteered to participate in the DEI initiative at TFF as well as join the education committee. This is the one that I am most excited about. I am very passionate about helping young adults to discover our industry and hopefully support to educate the next generation of Fragrance professionals.

Why are you most excited to represent your company on the TFF board?

At Parlux, I work with an incredible roster of multi-faceted brands and talent, which gives me first hand insights to pop culture, sustainable practices and futuristic web 3 metaverse opportunities and more!  I am extremely passionate about the fragrance industry and want to share my experience with the TFF board and bring new ideas to the table. I am so excited to be amongst my industry peers to continue the art of fragrance storytelling, to a wider audience. 

How does your business align with TFF’s mission to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance?

Parlux fosters a culture of excellence and creativity, and this discipline is in lock step with TFF’s mission to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance. My team and I create the most compelling fragrances and brand campaigns that spark connection and emotions. Our fragrances evoke memories such as feeling joy, falling in love, getting married or re-living a dreamy vacation.

We are committed to putting the customer first, creating new and evocative fragrances to be an affordable luxury that brings a spark of je ne sais quoi to the world.

In what ways can you commit & take action for positive advances for DEI with #FragranceForwardTFF?

The Parlux portfolio consists of diverse fashion brands and talent who have been on our roster for decades. I am committed to increasing our DEI roster with new brands and am already having some amazing conversations (shhhh!). I am very proud of the talented and diverse team that I have built at Parlux. With this experience, I am already taking action and committed to help the advancement of DEI with #FragranceForwardTFF.

Why are you most excited to represent your company on the TFF board?

First of all, I have a deep passion for fragrance and its power to transform. I am also very excited to be the first Latina in The Fragrance Foundation Board of Directors. Latina consumers are very sophisticated and highly involved in the fragrance category. As the population in the US shifts and the proportions of people of color increases, I believe this bodes well for the category overall.

How does your business align with TFF’s mission to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance?

I think the Shiseido fragrance business perfectly aligns with The Fragrance Foundation mission to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance. The Shiseido fragrance stable is composed of some of the most notable and iconic names in the fragrance industry; Hermes, Narciso Rodriguez, Issey Miyake, Tory Burch, to name a few. We at Shiseido share a deep passion and respect for the artistry and craftsmanship involved in creating a fragrance.

In what ways can you commit & take action for positive advances for DEI with #FragranceForwardTFF?

I believe that we always start with what we can immediately impact. Therefore, bringing more people of color into the organization in my case, Shiseido is a top priority for me. We need those voices at the table if we want to really address their needs. Being the first Hispanic in the Board of Directors of TFF, I think it is also my duty to use my voice and position to bring others along.

Dec

SPOTLIGHT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS REFLECT ON 2022

SPOTLIGHT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS REFLECT ON 2022
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS REFLECT ON 2022

SPOTLIGHT: TFF BOARD MEMBERS REFLECT ON 2022

2022 was an exciting time for TFF and for the fragrance industry as a whole. Coming together again in new ways—both IRL and digital–and working towards a more diverse, inclusive future were major themes for all. For the final issue of ACCORDS in 2022, TFF asked board members to reflect on some of the changes and achievements they witnessed over the past year. In regard to TFF’s biggest priority, #FragranceForwardTFF, all agree that major strides had been made and that there was an overall championing of fresh voices and faces. “There is a greater sense of community and inclusion across all touchpoints,” says Tricia Butler, President North America Parfums Givenchy, Kenzo Parfums, Acqua di Parma, LVMH. “There is a definite sense of pride and an increase in participation” throughout the fragrance world.

“Acknowledging the reality and ‘previous’ state of the industry, while seemingly an easy task, was a major first step,” says Pierre Wulff, Director, Robertet Group. “Starting this conversation, driving awareness of the industry’s shortcomings, its lack of representation and inclusivity, and ultimately prioritizing it and making it part of the everyday conversation has been an exciting and inspiring shift. With this, we’ve already started to see more representation in the industry, more newcomers, and more spotlights and even major investments in brands previously overlooked.”

“I’ve seen a true focus being put on changing the landscape to a more inclusive one, through efforts made to nurture diverse talent and to help ensure that the fragrance industry represents and champions diversity in all its forms,” says Jerry Vittoria, Chairman TFF and President Fine Fragrance Worldwide, Firmenich. “This has taken shape in the form of more educational outreach such as panels and webcasts, creating features that highlight new founders, and putting together scholarships to attract the younger generations. Overall, there’s a united goal of setting a high standard of excellence, encouraging the beauty community as a whole to reflect the perspectives of, and in turn better serve, the consumers we create for.”

The fragrance consumer shifted in 2022, as world circumstances and individual behavior continued to evolve. “Fragrance continues to be a category where consumers have deep passion, both for themselves and for gifting,” says Penny Coy, VP Merchandising, Prestige Skincare and Fragrance ULTA. “Interestingly, throughout the pandemic consumers expanded engagement with fragrance as they began to more regularly layer scents into their personal rotation, creating different use cases for different brands. As they explore the category, consumers have continually gravitated towards newness this year – whether a new brand or new product from established fragrance brands. We’re seeing Gen Z embrace fragrance more regularly as TikTok continues to fuel fragrance chatter and trends, creating opportunities for all brands in the space to establish and nurture consumer relationships.” Butler noted that “There are more fragrance consumers. We are seeing a younger consumer and an increase in male consumers. EDPs, Parfums and stronger concentrations are on the rise.”

“Today’s consumer goes beyond gender or normal segmentations—instead today we focus on fragrances that suit a personality or evoke an emotion,” says Vittoria. “In turn, the shopping behaviors have adapted and we find that consumers are now going through multi-channels and are well informed and more purposeful in their selections. They are looking for brands that have an authentic voice with values they can relate to such as in sustainability and diversity efforts.”

These days, says Wulff, the fragrance consumer is “Everyone! The person looking for self-care solutions, the person looking to indulge, treat themselves, stay curious and engaged, and of course, the existing fragrance obsessed. As fragrance has become paramount in everything we consume and surround ourselves with – our homes, our work space, our beauty routines, entertainment and more – there is a growing audience and interest in the category and desire to infuse it in all lifestyles and aspects of our lives.”

For Julianne Pruett, VP Fine Fragrance Sales, Symrise the biggest change was “level-setting post pandemic. Back to live, in-person interaction means a decline in home care (candles) vs 2020/21 and an increase in EDT/colognes (going out, back to office) coupled with an increase in sales at brick & mortar stores vs peak of online. However, the online overall increase from 2019 is here to stay.”

More than anything, perhaps, fragrance continued to be a beacon of joy for consumers, and a way to connect with themselves and each other. “In a world suffering from unprecedented divisions, war and insecurity, the fragrance category is playing its role in terms of bringing positivity to each person’s world,” says Alex Choueiri, Global President, Ralph Lauren Fragrances L’Oréal. “Fragrance is no longer about seduction only, it is showing its power as a hedonistic tool with healing properties to the mind, and it is also about togetherness.”

Personally, TFF board members—like everyone else—found renewed inspiration in their personal lives, as they returned to the office with more flexibility, and in the world of scent, which continues to move towards a positive and diverse future. “Speaking on behalf of my team, 2022 welcomed a wonderful shift back to meetings in real life with our fragrance brand partners,” says Coy. “Experiencing new scents, being inspired by brand stories, offering reactions to the notes, packaging and future campaigns – these experiences energize us. We’re inspired by the creativity, newness and enthusiasm brands and consumers bring to the category and love working with our brand partners to deliver many beautiful fragrance possibilities to our guests.”

“We are seeing innovation daily, be it in sustainability efforts or through digital advancements, all being driven by a renewed appreciation of scent,” says Vittoria. “Scent today is seen as a powerful engine that can transform our mood and deliver active benefits rather than just an accessory—and this makes our work that much more exciting.”

Nov

SPOTLIGHT: ARTEMIS PATRICK, CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREE

SPOTLIGHT: ARTEMIS PATRICK, CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREE
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: ARTEMIS PATRICK, CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREE

SPOTLIGHT: ARTEMIS PATRICK, CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREE

On October 25th, TFF celebrated 2022 Circle of Champions honoree Artemis Patrick with a lively dinner event at 583 Park Avenue attended by hundreds of beauty and fragrance industry leaders. As Executive Vice President and Global Chief Merchandising Officer for Sephora, Patrick’s impact on how fragrance is bought and sold cannot be under-stated, and the evening highlighted not only the inspiring breadth of her achievements—from the way she has pioneered Sephora’s retail prowess to her dedication to DEI and ensuring inclusivity within the company and on the sales floor—but also the unflappable attitude, enterprising vision, and sense of fun that she brings to work every day (always in her signature cowboy boots). For this edition of ACCORDS, Patrick reflects on her career, and what it means to be recognized for accomplishments so close to her heart.

What does it mean to you to be inducted into the TFF Circle of Champions?

It is truly such an honor! The fragrance category has always played such an integral role in the Sephora experience, and it has been so exciting to not only witness but to play a part in driving forward the evolution of the category. To be recognized by the esteemed Fragrance Foundation and receive the Circle of Champions Award is just thrilling for me and my team.

When Sephora first came to the US in 1998, with a giant fragrance organ in the middle of the store imported from France (believe it or not, we still have one in our corporate office!), everyone knew we were the underdogs in beauty, but we were an even bigger underdog in fragrance. And every single fragrance merchant that has walked through the Sephora doors for the past 24 years, has had to fight to disrupt and innovate, and their hard work has truly paid off. This award is for them.

What have been some of the most defining moments of your career?

I have been very fortunate to work for a company that believes in continuous innovation and in pushing boundaries; since its inception, Sephora has always managed to be at the forefront of what is new and next in beauty, and it’s been thrilling to play a role in that. But there are of a course a few moments of which I’m especially proud:

In 2018, my team and I launched the Clean at Sephora program, which effectively established “clean beauty” as a category and set the standard for how to think about and shop for such products. Clean at Sephora has experienced tremendous growth since then – including strides made in the fragrance category, which has historically not been a place where “clean” is easy to achieve – and ultimately prompted the subsequent debut of our Clean + Planet Positive program in 2021, which accounts for product sustainability as well. Beauty shoppers continue to be increasingly ingredient-conscious and sensitive to how their choices impact the planet, and I’m so proud that we have played a leading role in helping them to better understand and navigate what can be a complex and confusing category.

Another proud moment came in 2020, when calls for racial justice were quickly taking hold. Aurora James, Brother Vellies’ founder (and friend of Sephora), very publicly issued a call-to-action for retailers to take the 15 Percent Pledge and commit to building a product assortment of which 15% are Black-owned brands – and Sephora was the very first major retailer to step up and do so. Since then, we have reached 15% in the hair care category and have more than doubled our assortment of Black-owned brands – in part through our Accelerate brand incubator program, which focuses exclusively on supporting and launching BIPOC-owned brands. But this is a long-term journey we’re on, and we look forward to launching even more BIPOC-owned brands in the months and years to come.

Lastly, another defining moment of my career was the transition to my full-time global position. When the role of global CMO was first created, it was done with the intent of accelerating the global expansion of exclusive and differentiated brands, and I’m so proud of the great strides we’ve made the past few years. This has been such a rewarding and exciting time in my career, and I look forward to continuing to expand Sephora’s global reach with my incredibly talented team.

What have been the greatest challenges you have faced?

The pandemic was one of the hardest times both professionally and personally. It was a time when leaders had to figure out different ways to keep their teams motivated and connected in a time of extreme uncertainty. By nature, I get so much of my energy by the people around me, so being isolated from my team and our brand partners was especially challenging. I learned during this time that in order to take care of others I had to also take care of myself and tried to encourage my team to do the same. I also learned how important the power of connection is, and made conscious efforts to connect in other ways (a quick call, a kind text) and am cognizant now more than ever how important those human connections are in building a strong company culture.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

I once was in a situation where the issue at hand was so overwhelming that I wasn’t sure where to start. I remember my leader at the time telling me “if Rome is burning, protect your house.” In other words, control only what YOU can control. While it may seem simple, it’s so important that as leaders we focus on what we can control and help guide our teams to do the same. This advice always guides me if I’m feeling overwhelmed and I think also helps me prioritize!

What would you say the future of fragrance retail holds?

While fragrance was once something that was viewed as more special occasion-based, the pandemic really changed the way consumers engage with the category, as people began to turn to it more and more as a form of self-care, both with personal fragrance and home fragrance. We’ve seen that behavior hold strong and anticipate people will continue to shop the category in that way.

We’re also seeing that younger consumers are highly engaged with fragrance. This is a generation that cares about the planet, transparency, diversity and inclusion – and they shop with those values at the forefront. So for fragrance brands to succeed, it will be very important that they understand the nuances across different generations and how to communicate and connect with each – especially Gen Z.

How have your accomplishments aligned with #FragranceFowardTFF?

#FragranceFowardTFF is such an inspiring and important initiative for the fragrance industry, as we all collectively commit to shaping the industry to truly reflect the very diverse community we serve. This could not be more in line with the work we do at Sephora, where we have very much been focused on diversifying our product assortment.

The reality is that there are not yet many Black founders in the fragrance industry, but we and the Fragrance Foundation share the common mission to change that. We launched Jackie Aina’s home fragrance, FORVR Mood, as well as World of Chris Collins last year, and work closely with them to continue building and growing their businesses.

Ultimately, we at Sephora are committed to helping to make the beauty industry at large more representative and truly in service of beauty lovers everywhere – and #FragranceForwardTFF is certainly poised to do the same for the fragrance industry.

Oct

SPOTLIGHT: ADVANCEMENTS IN DEI

SPOTLIGHT: ADVANCEMENTS IN DEI
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: ADVANCEMENTS IN DEI

SPOTLIGHT: ADVANCEMENTS IN DEI

On October 20th, TFF broadcast its second annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webinar: Moving Forward, Together. For this installment of the Foundation’s ongoing and committed effort to galvanize and support DEI initiatives throughout the fragrance industry, national news anchor (and fragrance lover) Arthel Neville moderated a compelling talk with Bernardo Möller, Founder and Creative Director of House of Bö, Nicole Monson, Senior Vice President, Equity and Engagement at the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Shawn Outler, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Macy’s Inc. In a thoughtful, in-depth conversation, the three discussed how and why the inclusivity tenants championed by #FragranceForwardTFF are so important and impactful for fragrance brands large and small, fragrance retailers and marketers, and the consumer. Here, they share their thoughts about where the industry stands, and what they hope to see moving forward, together.

What does inclusivity mean to you when it comes to fragrance – from the scent to the ingredients to the design?

I love how the process of creating a fragrance is so specific to its creator’s life story, whether it is inspired by personal memories, culture or background, but by the time it reaches consumers it is a totally subjective experience open to each person’s interpretation. Fragrance is a universal language that is not constricted by race, color, background or sexuality. 

House of Bō’s minimalist design and aesthetic is meant to inspire neutrality.

How do you make sure that your message of inclusivity is in everything you communicate to the consumer?

House of Bō is a community where your definition of self is not only encouraged but celebrated. We believe that authenticity leads to more meaningful human connections that ultimately nurture our soul. When you learn to appreciate your own uniqueness you will understand the value of accepting others as they are. It’s about embracing everything about yourself. It’s your story, your culture, your heritage, your color, your body type, your sexuality.

Inclusivity is at the core of our brand DNA. Everything we do, from our storytelling, to our campaigns and posts, is meant to reflect sustainability, diversity and inclusion. As a small company we make sure we surround ourselves and work with people who uphold and share our values and we are proud to say that our work-force and talent consists of a diverse group of minds that allows us to see things from different perspectives.  

What has been the most impactful progress you have seen in DEI in the fragrance industry so far, and where do you think the most work still needs to be done?

Diversity Equality and Inclusion is a topic that is being discussed across the board in all sectors and thankfully the fragrance industry is not staying behind, thanks to people in executive positions who truly care about this subject. It’s important to ensure we keep appointing people who genuinely understand the value of having a diverse and inclusive work environment. 

These conversations have had the most impact on me because I am an example of how these platforms create opportunities for people like me to have a voice and to showcase my interpretation of fragrance. These conversations lead to change and these changes inspire young entrepreneurs to think it is possible to follow your dreams. 

We have to keep the conversation alive and make sure we continue to support brands that carry this message in a genuine way, and by genuine I mean brands that are not just looking to check off a box. More and more consumers are searching for brands that they can relate to. People don’t want to buy just a pretty product, they are looking for communities that share their same values and ideals. 

I would love to see more perfumers from different walks of life succeed, not just women but also trans, queer and all other minority groups.

What do you think an inclusive fragrance industry looks like from a consumer’s perspective?

An inclusive fragrance industry is one where consumers feel heard, where their needs are met in product offerings, and where they see themselves reflected in industry marketing practices. In addition, inclusivity means having the fragrance industry engage in the communities in which their consumers live and work on issues that matter to them year-round. Brand investment needs to be ongoing, not solely when engagement with historically marginalized groups seems convenient, like during Black History Month or Pride Month.  

An inclusive fragrance industry is deliberate and focused in the actions it takes to be more inclusive and intentionally prioritizes marginalized communities, including increasing accessibility and taking meaningful actions to ensure perfumers, and other fragrance industry employees actually look like consumers. Representation is critical. There must also continue to be an evolution of language – a move away from terms that are offensive and incendiary.  

The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. aspires to be the most inclusive, equitable, and diverse beauty company in the world. We are constantly evaluating and evolving in DEI—a core tenet of our overall business strategy—to ensure progress towards this goal. When companies take the position of people first, beginning with the support and cultivation of their employees, advocacy for all is given a wider lens. Being intentional in our marketing and product offerings and allowing our consumers to see themselves in our brands, increases returns in brand reputation, consumer affinity, and leadership in our industry.

How do you think that strides in DEI within corporations will affect the fragrances that are made and the way that they are sold?

Consumers, investors, non-profits, and other stakeholders are holding corporations accountable to prioritize DEI in every facet of their operations. With greater awareness of the systemic barriers that impact historically marginalized communities, comes a greater responsibility for the fragrance industry to be more bold, ambitious, and impact-focused when it comes to inclusion practices. 

The strides that are being made by corporations to prioritize and invest in DEI undoubtedly will have an effect on the ways fragrances are made and sold. Indeed, the progress will help reduce and hopefully eventually eliminate the barriers to entry into the industry. For instance, corporations are deciding to make corporate investments in entrepreneurial programs, and professional development that is engaging talent from marginalized communities. The racial diversification of talent brings the variety of perspective that the fragrance industry needs to be relevant to racially diverse consumers in product offerings, marketing practices and the markets in which it engages. 

We’re also seeing an evolution toward more gender inclusivity, with the use of gender-neutral notes like sandalwood, patchouli, and amber, as opposed to fruity, floral scents that have dominated historically. These steps away from the gender binary, and other boxes that exclude the non-dominant culture, are essential on the path to an inclusive industry. 

But there is much more to be done to deliver a fragrance landscape that is as dynamic and diverse as the consumers we hope to serve.

What has been the most impactful progress you have seen in DEI in the fragrance industry so far, and where do you think the most work still needs to be done?

The most impactful progress that I have seen in DEI in the fragrance industry so far has been where companies and organizations make DEI a strategic business imperative backed by commitments that can be measured, evaluated, and evolved. 

At ELC, we’ve backed up our intention by making public-facing and internal commitments — starting with commitments to racial and gender equity. We’ve created our new function, the Equity and Engagement Center of Excellence, and established a Gender Equality Taskforce to drive accountability around this work. Progress towards our goals includes: Creating Advancement Opportunities for Black Talent (since its launch, we have increased our hiring of Black candidates to 18.8%, surpassed our goal of doubling our hires from historically Black colleges and universities, created a program with Florida A&M University offering summer internships with teams in NYC and Miami along with scholarships, and more); Investment in Systemic Change (We distributed a total of over $11.8M to support external organizations and non-profits advancing racial and social justice and addressing disparities); and Making Strides Toward Equal Pay for Women (Globally, 55% of positions VP and above are held by women and we’re on track to achieve women’s pay parity this year). 

Our industry requires more diversity represented across all levels and particularly in leadership. Removing bias from our hiring, evaluation, and promotion practices and creating workplaces where employees of color and other historically marginalized groups, feel safe, valued, and have opportunities for advancement, are critical. We must go beyond simply attracting talent to retaining talent and investing in marginalized communities to cultivate a diverse talent pipeline. In addition, a great deal of work remains to provide access to resources for entrepreneurs in the fragrance industry. For most, it is cost prohibitive to build a fragrance brand without financial support from corporations, investors and community-minded organizations. Finally, there must be a heightened focus and sensitivity to marketing practices in the fragrance industry. Clear actions need to be taken to ensure that models that appear in marketing campaigns no longer over index on white, heteronormative models. 

What are some of the more effective DEI strategies you’ve seen so far?

I think companies that have been most effective when they have tapped into diverse communities in the right way, and really listened to understand better what’s impacting those communities and how to address them.

We’ve had ERGs for years, but we’ve seen a different level of activation with our ERGs and advocacy as it relates to them. I think most recently about what happened in Buffalo and Uvalde and the Dobbs decision. Our ERGs have really stood up and we have allowed them to take the lead in driving conversations with those who don’t really understand how these different societal issues have impacted communities. Bringing folks together to express how they feel and what this has meant to them, and allowing others to listen and be educated. We have created this environment, and I think that has been successful.

I think overall everyone was running to the table in 2020 to make a declaration about what they were going to do. The companies that did it well went back to their values and said here’s who we are and made a decision about whether or not anti-racism was in line with those values and then began reinforcing that with everybody in their organization. Those who did it really well followed it up with real action, held people accountable, and put real measurement around it. It’s about activating the people in your work force, standing for something and making a declaration, but also taking action and driving accountability, because that’s how you impact the business you do every day. And I think where the real change happens is when you can change the systems in which you operate to include a more diverse and equitable environment.

How can the industry be more accountable in driving DEI across all levels?

We must create a holistic plan that addresses all levels of the issue with clear measurable goals. This includes internal and external, audience and stakeholders. For example at Macy’s our DEI strategy has five focus areas: our colleagues, customers, suppliers, community, and marketing. And for each area we have set targets we want to meet. Additionally, there must be alignment and accountability across all levels of an organization on these goals. Aspirations, accountability, and action. You also have to be public about it, share it, be very clear, so that everyone understands what you are marching towards.  

What can we do as a community to support #FragranceForwardTFF?

Join us in creating meaningful, impactful, sustainable, measurable, transparent goals as it relates to this work. I would also say, let’s reframe the conversation. This to me is always about opportunity: the opportunity to understand each other better, to discover new businesses and get at new categories and really expand and grow our industry at large. I just say, what a huge incredible opportunity we have every day to elevate what we do and include more voices and grow. This is the next evolution of our industry, let’s embrace it in a positive and meaningful way for greater change and impact for all.

Sep

SPOTLIGHT: CHERYL WILLS, THE NEWS MAKER

SPOTLIGHT: CHERYL WILLS, THE NEWS MAKER
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: CHERYL WILLS, THE NEWS MAKER

SPOTLIGHT: CHERYL WILLS, THE NEWS MAKER

New York 1 anchor Cheryl Wills knows a newsworthy event when she sees one—and on September 7th, when she reported directly from The Fragrance Foundation’s inaugural Connections Brunch at Melba’s restaurant in Harlem, she was making news, not just presenting it. Both New York 1 and Wills—who has been with the network since its debut—were marking 30 years of broadcasting, a milestone that made the TFF occasion even more festive. And what a lively event it was: The brunch brought together some 40 industry leaders—including Chris Collins, founder of World of Chris Collins, Teri Johnson of the Harlem Candle Company, and Francisco Costa, creator of the award-winning beauty line Costa Brazil, designers, journalists, influencers and style makers—to celebrate New York Fashion Week and share the latest on #FragranceForwardTFF, the groundbreaking initiative driving DEI in the fragrance industry. Wills, a passionate perfume devotee herself, was connected with TFF via Helen Shelton, Global Chief Diversity Officer and head of DEI strategy with  Agency of Record Finn Partners, and as the success of the day proved, it was a match made in fragrance heaven. Here she shares her favorite moments of the day and why she believes TFF’s work is so impactful.

What were the highlights of your experience at the TFF Connections brunch?   

The TFF Connections brunch was, shall we say, scent-sational! What a thrill to be in the presence of change agents in the fragrance industry and to meet so many movers and shakers while munching on Melba’s famous chicken and waffles! Linda did a marvelous job hosting the event! Her sincerity and love for the fragrance industry shined through. And you could hear a pin drop during her riveting on the spot interviews with entrepreneurs like Chris Collins.

How did the TFF Connections brunch at Melba’s in Harlem prove to be a great kick off to NYFW & celebrate NY1’s 30th anniversary?  

Great question! NY1’s 30th anniversary is also a celebration of arts and culture and that, of course, includes the fragrance industry! The brunch tied everything together under ONE ROOF!! As someone who has been with NY1 from DAY ONE, this was a really special moment for me! I covered fashion week and many fragrance related stories for more than a decade and met fashion icons like BETSY JOHNSON and reported on her fragrance line and countless others! So this was a delicious reunion for me as well!

Why is an event like the TFF Connections brunch important for New York media?  

The brunch is critical for members of the media to connect the dots and learn more about the fragrance industry from those who know best! Linda Levy is a great connector and thoroughly understands the multi-billion dollar fragrance industry! Linda Levy is also a terrific ambassador for building the brand and her assortment of media titans did just that.

What are your impressions of the #FragranceForwardTFF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative?  

The diversity angle is especially important to me because I know first hand that the global fragrance industry is dominated by whites. Chris Collins is a trailblazer and it was imperative that he was placed front and center at this important event. There are difficult questions that still need to be addressed.  WHY is Chris Collins one of the very few black-owned fragrance sold at Bergdorf Goodman? Aside from celebrity endorsements by Rhianna and Beyonce etc., the global fragrance Industry has a lot of work to do to level the playing field and welcome perfumers of color to the table. The Fragrance Foundation’s diversity initiative is what drew me to this event! 

What do you love about fragrance, and how do you use it in your daily life?  

Thanks to the amazing gift bag from this exclusive event, I am now baptized in the WORLD OF CHRIS COLLINS! I’ve been wearing it every single day and sharing his amazing journey from supermodel to super-entrepreneur with everyone I meet! I love how fragrance makes me feel. Once I am made up and just before I get dressed, I strategically spray perfume -in all the right places. It’s the finishing touch. When I was a little girl, we lived in public housing in New York City and I will never forget my mother always left the house wearing Charlie – which she routinely purchased from Woolworths! I couldn’t wait to grow up and do the same thing. Now that I’m all grown up and painting the town, it’s my honor to following in my mother’s fancy footsteps!

Jun

SPOTLIGHT: JEFF GENNETTE – HALL OF FAME HONOREE

SPOTLIGHT: JEFF GENNETTE – HALL OF FAME HONOREE
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: JEFF GENNETTE – HALL OF FAME HONOREE

SPOTLIGHT: JEFF GENNETTE – HALL OF FAME HONOREE

How do you create a bona fide “fragrance destination” for shoppers? Just ask Jeff Gennette, Macy’s, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, who has positioned Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Bluemercury as precisely that. The enterprising leader, who has been honored with the prestigious 2022 TFF Hall of Fame Award, has long understood the power of storytelling and interactive experience in fragrance retail. He has made fragrance central to the shopping experience, intuitively recognizing how intrinsically connected it is with fashion and beauty.

This understanding comes from experience. Gennette began his nearly four-decade retail career in 1983 as an executive trainee at Macy’s West in San Francisco. In March of 2017, Gennette was elected Chief Executive Officer of Macy’s, Inc., and Chairman in February 2018. Over the years, he has served in key roles as EVP and Director of Stores for Macy’s Central, and as Chief Merchandising Officer, keeping fragrance front-and-center in the retailer’s merchandising mix.

Gennette’s deep understanding of the consumer — from how they wish to move through a store to how they buy, use, and gift scent — has propelled Macy’s, Inc. to the top tier of fragrance retail. Even more meaningful is the tone that he has set: His commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion has positioned Macy’s, Inc. as a role model in making the fragrance world open and equitable for all.

What does it mean to you to receive the Fragrance Foundation Hall of Fame Award?

I am incredibly honored to be receiving this award, but most importantly, I think it’s a testament to the role Macy’s, Inc. has played in elevating and growing the fragrance industry. I humbly accept this award on behalf of my entire team and our valued fragrance partners, without whom this wouldn’t be possible.

What led you to first join Macy’s?

Macy’s is well known in the industry for its executive development program, and the opportunity at a young age to get management experience was what first drew me to the company. I thought I would stay a couple of years and then go to business school, but here I am four decades later. I wouldn’t change a thing.

What lessons did you learn early on in your career at Macy’s that have continued to be relevant in your role as Chairman and CEO?

There are two lessons that still guide me today. One, is the importance of being your authentic self. When you can come to the workplace living your truth, you can fully engage, innovate and bring different viewpoints to the table. The other is to always focus on the customer. Without an unwavering focus on what is right for the customer, you can’t successfully lead a retail business.

What have been your proudest career achievements?

Hopefully that will continue to evolve over time, but right now I would say that I’m most proud of successfully steering Macy’s, Inc. through the most challenging parts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our team really came together to recover the business and emerge as a healthier and stronger company. I’m so proud of the incredible work that all my colleagues did to continue to deliver for our customers during this unprecedented time.

How and why is fragrance so important to Macy’s?

The Fragrance business is important for our company because it evokes powerful, emotional connections for our customers. Together with our fragrance partners, we have built the business into a powerhouse in the beauty industry, giving customers the opportunity to discover new scents that complement their unique personal style.

What are some of the key ways that you keep customers engaged with fragrance at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury?

We continue to invest in the fragrance shopping experience across our stores and digital platforms.

We’ve developed rich, creative, sensory experiences that support this emotional purchase. This includes collaborations with our valued partners on product launches, storytelling and leveraging customized digital tools that enable us to bring the very best of the in-store experience to online shoppers.

It is also important for us to innovate and find new ways to engage our customers with the fragrance business through experiences like our recent integration of scents into the Macy’s Flower Show. We’ve also continued to inspire discovery through digital channels as showcased by our live shopping programming on Macys.com and Bloomingdales.com.

What have been the biggest changes you have seen in consumer behavior regarding fragrance over the years?

We have seen fragrance explode as the perfect gift for any occasion. Today we enjoy a strong business in custom gift sets and baskets for all gifting holidays. It’s not only a staple gift for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, but fragrances have also become the go-to gift for marking special moments in people’s lives. We have also seen customers evolve to become true fragrance connoisseurs, increasingly knowledgeable and discerning about what makes a fragrance unique and how that fits with their personal style.

How would you characterize the current state of fragrance retail?

The business continues to expand, adding new and returning customers to the category. The past couple of years have further highlighted the importance of fragrance and scent memory for our customers. Fragrances reminded them of locations they missed or special memories during these trying years. They have also become the perfect self-treat for those seeking a pick-me-up.

What do you predict for the future of fragrance retail?

The next evolution in the business has begun. We’ve started to see how the customer is seeing fragrance as part of their whole lifestyle. They want scent for themselves, their home, car and office. They are making fragrance an essential part of their ecosystem. We also see a huge opportunity for growth, particularly in the luxury segment.

How does TFF’s DEI initiative #FragranceForwardTFF resonate with Macy’s values and practices?

Macy’s, Inc. and The Fragrance Foundation both see diversity, equity and inclusion as bedrock values. They are paramount to creating an equitable future that allows colleagues to be their authentic selves, that reflects and values diverse customers, and one that supports our shared communities. We applaud the work that The Fragrance Foundation is doing to create a more equitable world for all.

May

SPOTLIGHT: THE POWER OF HOME FRAGRANCE

SPOTLIGHT: THE POWER OF HOME FRAGRANCE
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: THE POWER OF HOME FRAGRANCE

SPOTLIGHT: THE POWER OF HOME FRAGRANCE

A few years ago, it might have been hard to imagine the impact that the pandemic has had on the fragrance industry, particularly in the way that it sparked an explosion of the home scent category. With people spending so much more time in their personal spaces, scented candles, diffusers and other ambient fragrances took on new importance: They became tools to create or alter moods, to mark time, and to deliver joy and peace in a time of chaos. Now that the consumer has truly been awakened to their magic, home scents are certain to remain strong. They have become as much a part of the fabric of our lives as the perfumes we wear on our skin: Just as desirable, and thanks to the continued innovation of imaginative brands, increasingly as creative and diverse. Here, the finalists for the 2022 TFF Candle & Home Collection of the Year Award reflect on the state of the industry and share the inspiration behind their lauded products.  

Boy Smells, Fantôme Collection

Matthew Herman, Co-Founder & Creator                     

In what ways did the Candle & Home fragrance category boom over the past year?

Starting in March of 2020 we saw dramatic increases in demand for the candle and home fragrance category. During these uncertain times the home has become much more than just a place to sleep. It has become an office, a sanctuary, and an extension of ourselves and our identities. Being able to bring small luxuries into the lives of our customers and offer some respite from external stressors brings us a lot of joy. In 2021-2022 specifically, we saw dramatic year over year growth in both home and personal fragrance. It’s been great to participate in the fragrance conversation at a time when it seems to be so greatly appreciated by the consumer. 

What was the inspiration behind the Candle & Home collection nominated for the 2022 Consumer Choice Award?

One of our brand pillars is what we call the ritual of closeness. This is the customer’s ability to self define selfcare. We believe that becoming true to yourself is paramount to your quantity of life. Our Fantôme Collection celebrates this with olfactive structures that encourage a ritualistic sense of meditation. Each of the three scents takes one hero accord, whether that be Thè, Iris or Copal and mixes it with deep smoked accords of wood, leather and spices. Each of the hero accords has an eternal sensibility to them as well as a rich history of different cultural usage throughout time. We hope these very focused olfactive creations induce introspection and reflection. 

What does it mean for the brand to be included in the Finalists for the Consumer Choice category?

Creating Boy Smells is a creative second act for myself and David Kien, our other Co-Founder. Having started in fashion and joined the fragrance industry not through training but through deep admiration and personal love it is humbling and astonishing that we have been recognized by The Fragrance Foundation. Being nominated alongside these iconic brands and legendary noses is a highlight of our journey so far. 

dipytque Paris, Curiosity is a Treasure

Julien Gommichon, President Americas

In what ways did the Candle & Home fragrance category boom over the past year?

Over the past two years, consumers have become increasingly invested in their homes and wellbeing; during this time the brand acquired new clients, discovering the brand online, and through our recent store expansions and incredible 60th anniversary celebration last year. The brand also continues to innovate and add newness to the category, most recently with the introduction of the reed diffuser, which is seeing great success and adding incremental sales to the home category.

What was the inspiration behind the Candle & Home collection nominated for the 2022 Consumer Choice Award?

This was our fifth and final collection of diptyque’s very exciting 60th anniversary year. The common thread of this collection is curiosity, an inheritance passed on by the trio of founding artists who were all astute collectors. Their ability to discern the beauty in all things and unearth wonders led to the success of the Maison. This collection encapsulates this curious lifestyle, which brought us a whimsical and giftable holiday collection.

What does it mean for the brand to be included in the Finalists for the Consumer Choice category?

We are thrilled to be included in this category. Our holiday collections are always so near and dear to the brand’s heart; an annual moment that reflects the core ethos of our founders. The success of this collection is now being further emulated through this nomination, reflecting the growing desirability of the brand.

Jo Malone London, Townhouse Collection Diffusers

Celine Roux, Head of Fragrance Development

In what ways did the Candle & Home fragrance category boom over the past year?

Jo Malone London has always been a lifestyle brand offering scents for the home which create scented stories tailored to any and every space.

Scenting your lifestyle has become even more important recently, where people want to create their own unique space which feels right for them. At Jo Malone London, we experienced unprecedented growth in our home category within the last few years, with significant uplift in our Global Home mix of business, especially our Candles and Diffusers.

What was the inspiration behind the Candle & Home collection nominated for the 2022 Consumer Choice Award?

In Autumn 2020, we launched The Townhouse Collection – a new selection of scents created for the home that takes inspiration from the scented scenes and celebrated moments within a London townhouse; from freshly baked temptations in the drawing room to colorful stories among the vines in the garden room. Six candles make up the collection, each one capturing the unique mood of a particular room or moment within the home.

Wild Berry & Bramble is our ‘welcome home’ scent; a scented pathway leading you to the Townhouse. It was important to have an opening scent in the collection because it’s something you experience when you walk into a person’s home. We felt ours had to be very British and outdoorsy, with this fantastical image of arching brambles and sun-warmed bushes brimming with berries. It creates an inviting mood; it is so joyful and juicy thanks to the fruity blackcurrants and the refined aromatic facets of clary sage and geranium.

What does it mean for the brand to be included in the Finalists for the Consumer Choice category?

For us, it’s always a real honor to be recognised by our consumers.

Mizensir, Winter Candle Collection

Alberto Morillas, Master Perfumer & Founder

In what ways did the Candle & Home fragrance category boom over the past year?

The Candle & Home fragrance category is a growing market. It is a market that has become more and more important because it has become a lifestyle. People like to buy candles to personalize their interior. It’s a sign of refinement. There are more and more brands on the market so there is something for every taste and budget, like perfumes!

What was the inspiration behind the Candle & Home collection nominated for the 2022 Consumer Choice Award?

For the Winter Collection, I wanted to create a poetic and imaged collection by bringing together rich and varied emotions via subtle notes, both delicate and suggestive. Each of the Winter edition scents tells a story, the names of which are the titles: the mountain, the chalet, the coziness, the vacations, the emotions, the memories and the well-being. It is a reflection of my universe and my vision of winter.

With these candles, I wanted you to be able to travel and dream even if you are at home. It is an opening of the mind and imagination.

Let yourself be spellbound and seduced by these fragrances that will catch you by surprise with their magical contents.

What does it mean for the brand to be included in the Finalists for the Consumer Choice category?

For Mizensir and myself, it is a huge honor to be selected for the Consumer Choice category. It makes me happy because there are so many choices and brands on the market and it means that many people have been seduced by Mizensir’s signature and know-how. This is really important to us.

Nest New York, Wild Mint & Eucalyptus Home Fragrance Collection

Laura Slatkin, Founder

In what ways did the Candle & Home fragrance category boom over the past year?

As the greater population remained working from home, or spending more time at home in the past year, the “Scent your Sanctuary” trend continued. During 2020, people found great comfort in fragrancing their homes and creating an enjoyable ambiance to soothe their souls or awaken their senses. Home fragrance is now an important ritual for one’s everyday lifestyle.

What was the inspiration behind the Candle & Home collection nominated for the 2022 Consumer Choice Award?

The inspiration for Wild Mint and Eucalyptus fragrance and our move into the wellness category began five years ago. I experienced this amazing eucalyptus fragrance in the steam room of The Beverly Hills Hotel while on a trip touring colleges with my daughter, Ali. It was so extraordinary to enter The Beverly Hills hotel steam room and inhale this amazing aroma—it immediately lifted my spirits, rejuvenated me and cleared my mind. We asked Jerome Epinette to create a fragrance inspired by the essence of Eucalyptus and we created this outstanding fragrance together—Wild Mint and Eucalyptus. That single experience was the starting point that inspired us to turn to time-honored botanicals and create a collection of wellness fragrances that could enhance one’s body, mind, and spirit.  

 What does it mean for the brand to be included in the Finalists for the Consumer Choice category?

Both The Fragrance Foundation and being nominated for this award is very important to everyone at NEST and to me, both professionally and personally. It’s the industry’s stamp of approval for work well done. It’s a great honor to be nominated —but we want to win!

Apr

SPOTLIGHT: SUSTAINABILITY & FRAGRANCE

SPOTLIGHT: SUSTAINABILITY & FRAGRANCE
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: SUSTAINABILITY & FRAGRANCE

SPOTLIGHT: SUSTAINABILITY & FRAGRANCE

Sustainability can have different meanings for different brands, but all can agree one thing: its importance. From recyclable packaging components to the way that ingredients are sourced and processed, the fragrance industry is stepping up to ensure that the impact it makes on the planet is minimal and responsible. Consumers, too, are driving this change, with increasing expectations regarding brands’ transparency regarding environmentally friendly practices. For Earth Month, ACCORDS tapped four brands with strong sustainability messages—Ralph Lauren Polo Earth, Costa Brazil, Amen Candles & House of Bō—to talk about what they are doing to protect the planet, and what we can look forward to in the future from the fragrance industry as a whole.

Alex Choueiri, Ralph Lauren, L’Oréal

Why is sustainability so important for fragrance brands right now?

Sustainability has become an essential part of what all industries need to focus on. Our communities, our employees and our customers are expecting that from us. For the fragrance industry to continue to thrive, we have to revisit everything we do and try to improve. 

What are some of the sustainable measures that your brand has taken?

With the launch of Polo Earth we tried to do a deep dive on every aspect of our marketing mix and tried to push the boundaries to make our product as consciously designed as we can. We learned in that process and started implementing some of the learning (refillability, lighter glass weight, sustainably sourced verified ingredients, post consumer recycled carton and glass) to other products in our range.         

What do you hope to see regarding the future of sustainability and fragrance?

We hope we will continue the journey. We dream of seeing plastic free pumps. Our wooden cap will no longer have a plastic insert from next year. We are also working with all fragrance houses to increase the number of certified sustainable ingredients and fair trade certifications. Much more needs doing but it is an exciting journey.

Francisco Costa, Costa Brazil, Amyris

Why is sustainability so important for fragrance brands right now?

Sustainability needs to be important for all brands right now. For me, and Costa Brazil, it marks the beginning of our story. When I first went into the Amazon and learned more about the benefits of Brazilian ingredients, and self-care rituals from the Yawanawas, I directly sourced everything from them. It was as clear and simple as I’d hoped it could be. Of course, as we grew, the challenge became how to scale and continue to be sustainable. Fortunately, that’s when I met Amyris, leaders in biotechnology and now our parent company. They have helped us choose an even more sustainable path, from packaging to procurement to providing products like Aroma with proprietary ingredients such as Clean Ethanol, which is a non-toxic alternative to other ethanol alcohols because it’s derived from Bonsucro-certified sugarcane, not petrol, it’s non-GMO and, to top it off, it’s upcycled. It’s better for the environment, and you, without sacrificing efficacy. Today, we’re more sustainable than I could have ever imagined.

What are some of the sustainable measures that your brand has taken?

Sustainability is part of the everyday for us. We are always talking about ways to improve, across all tentpoles: animal, environmental and human welfare. We are sustainably sourced, environmentally responsible, cruelty free, and we truly care about our partners on the ground in the Amazon. That said, every time I go back into the rainforest, and witness just how hard and long a sourcing trip for a single ingredient like Breu is, I realize how unsustainable it is for those communities. 

 Currently, we’re in the process of formalizing an agreement that supports these communities through commitments to buy directly from them, and at a fair price, an acknowledgment of their hard work and culture, while also developing sustainable alternative ingredients in the Amyris lab. This way, we can harvest at the amount that will help the forest and its people thrive, but also allow us to scale and push the conversation around clean science.

What do you hope to see regarding the future of sustainability and fragrance?

Safer ingredients. More transparency. Cleaner science. Ongoing respect for nature. There is so much potential when it comes to fragrance. In the office, we have been speaking a lot about the direct line scent has into our immune systems. I want to change the purpose of fragrance. They shouldn’t mask who you are or be worn for others; they should be worn for you, to make you feel better, and help you smell like the best version of yourself. And they should be free of toxins and full of benefits like phytoncides, which are chemicals emitted from trees that have a proven physiological effect on our parasympathetic nervous systems. Aroma evokes such chemicals. How incredible is that? The future of clean beauty and particularly fragrance is incredibly bright.

Rodrigo Garcia, AMEN Candles

Why is sustainability so important for fragrance brands right now?

The oceans are speaking, the earth and climate are calling us to immediate action. Sustainability is not enough and it’s time for Regeneration. Fragrance brands have been using plastics and contributing to plastic contamination to the ocean for decades and this has to stop. We know it is hard, we don’t claim to be perfect, and we don’t expect to fix issues overnight, but what is important is to start incorporating this in all new products and make incremental changes. The philosophy should be  “As Sustainable As Possible As Soon As Possible”. 

What are some of the sustainable measures that your brand has taken?

AMEN started because I was having headaches from paraffin candles, and after searching for many years I partnered with an artisanal candle maker in Grasse to create paraffin-free sustainable candles using vegetal wax. It resulted in a unique combination of sustainability principles with French savoir-faire and high-end design. So since inception we started free of oil-derivative paraffin, and then while defining packaging we refused to use packaging that takes 500 years to decompose for a candle that only burns for 50 hours, and decided to ‘grow’ mushrooms carbon negative packaging for our candles.

AMEN is not about measures that we took to be sustainable, but about our way of thinking to be sustainable from the beginning, is in our DNA, and this is actually how sustainability is taught at universities, is not one measure, but a way of thinking and considering the sustainability aspect of every decision.

What do you hope to see regarding the future of sustainability and fragrance?

There will be two main changes: in the short term a plastic ban on packaging and in the long term a shift to more natural, conscious ingredients.

Soon, it will become unthinkable for a brand to use single-use plastic. Our mushrooms carbon negative packaging is our manifesto. It costs 10 times more than a plastic styrofoam, and as a young brand it was a tough decision to reduce our margins, but we believe that we have to lead by example and support new biodegradable alternatives whenever possible so other brands and designers see that it is possible. Clients support this initiative, and department stores are incredibly supportive, with dedicated areas like Conscious Curation at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The more brands use biodegradable alternatives, the prices will become more affordable. That is the only way to live in a world without plastics. Recycling is good for the mind to feel less guilty, but it is not good for our oceans.

I am optimistic that we can change this in the right direction. We are in a moment of awakening and shifting towards a more natural, conscious and regenerative period at all levels.

Bernardo Möller, House of Bō 

Why is sustainability so important for fragrance brands right now?

As we move into the future, and society has more access to information, we have become more aware of the issues that affect our planet. I think people are realizing that Earth is rare and precious and we must protect it. Sustainability has not only become a growing trend in fragrance production but in everything we do and consume. Thus, it is important to lead by example by choosing materials and manufacturers that are aligned with this message of sustainability to create an environment where conscious purchases become a priority for consumers. We call it Conscious Luxury, the responsible production of quality goods.  

What are some of the sustainable measures that your brand has taken? 

Our packaging is made from FSC certified paper, our caps are made from reclaimed travertine marble stone, and our glass bottles are manufactured from recyclable glass in a facility that uses sustainable energy. We are also currently developing a refilling program. We believe all these measures contribute to our goal of creating quality goods that minimizes our impact on the environment.

What do you hope to see regarding the future of sustainability and fragrance?

We hope there continues to be a growing commitment within the fragrance industry to use sustainable and responsibly sourced and manufactured  ingredients. Ultimately I believe people will become more aware we are a product of this Earth, which is a system of ecosystems that are all connected. It’s in our best interest to make sure we focus more on cohabiting instead of inhabiting irresponsibly. To achieve this change we must educate and guide the consumer in the right direction by creating trends which ultimately lead to a greater impact. We have a duty to protect our environment which is ultimately the source of inspiration for everything we do.

Mar

SPOTLIGHT:
WOMEN DRIVING INDUSTRY DIVERSITY & INNOVATION

SPOTLIGHT:<br>WOMEN DRIVING INDUSTRY DIVERSITY & INNOVATION
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT:
WOMEN DRIVING INDUSTRY DIVERSITY & INNOVATION

SPOTLIGHT:<br>WOMEN DRIVING INDUSTRY DIVERSITY & INNOVATION

This year’s virtual TFF event to celebrate Fragrance Day on March 21st raised the bar for exceptional participation and engagement, and the digital program emphasized the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to forge a bright and flourishing future for the industry. Among the highlights of the day were two especially inspiring women who have risen to great heights in their careers: Carol J. Hamilton, L’Oreal USA, Group President Acquisitions Women, and Ilaria Resta, Firmenich, Global President Perfumery Division and Executive Board Director, Women Driving Industry Diversity & Innovation. These two titans discussed their career paths and current roles with Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy and Fragrance Foundation Senior Director Sharné Jackson, and shared their thoughts on the importance of mentorship and why the #FragranceForwardTFF movement is such a crucial step in opening up the world of fragrance to creative and passionate individuals from all backgrounds. Read on for some of the highlights.

Carol Hamilton, L’Oreal USA, Group President Acquisitions Women

Linda G. Levy:
Being a woman and rising up as you have is a major accomplishment. Why is diversity—including women, and LGBTQ+ and beyond—so important in the industry?

Carol J. Hamilton:
Diversity is so important. I am very happy that our industry is embracing diversity—I believe in a truly deeper, newer way than before, which was often storytelling but without really digging in and doing the hard work of searching for and righting and balancing the many big inequities of the past. You have to fix things before you can truly start treating everyone equally, because if you just start treating everybody equally and problems and inequities still exist, those are just going to persist as you try to equalize the workplace.

If you are curious about people, if you love people, if you respect people, and you create a diverse group of people on your team through your hiring practices and your retention practices, you will have a much happier and therefore more productive team. The different points of view when you have a diverse team, versus one that is not diverse, are remarkable. Every once in a while, I am thrown back to what I experienced a lot early in my career, which was walking into a room of white men in their 40s or 50s all wearing pretty much the same suit in pretty much the same shade of grey or navy and looking at them and thinking: how am I going to learn from these people? They all become one in your lens. Now when I walk into a room I see so much diversity.

When I met the Youth to the People [Hamilton spearheaded the brand’s acquisition by L’Oreal] team for the first time, I saw that they walk the talk: They embody diversity from the ground up. And it makes their business so much stronger, because they understand the voice of the consumer through their diverse employee population. I am very proud that they have done that, and that L’Oreal is learning even more deeply how to reflect that kind of best practice in our teams at large. It’s one of the most important questions we’re all facing as leaders in this industry.

LGL:
Why is it so important that the Fragrance Foundation be involved as a leader in this initiative with #FragranceForwardTFF?

CJH:
First of all, I love it. It’s so important for the fragrance industry, because the fragrance industry has some stereotypes to shed. We’re known as being very French, for a start, and I think of diversity as cultural diversity as well. So spreading the incredible competencies that it takes to create a beautiful long lasting fragrance is really exciting for this industry culturally, and I think that sometimes the stereotypes that our industry can convey through our advertising – man gets girl, for example – it’s exciting for all of us to think about how we can sell fragrance, how we can create this unbelievable emotion that fragrance evokes, in a different format, with different cultural icons, with things that are not that one standard that just keeps repeating the past and violates who human beings are today. We are so much more interesting than that, and I think that the fragrance industry can embody and reflect all of us, and with your work it’s really starting to happen.

Ilaria Resta, Firmenich, Global President Perfumery Division and Executive Board Director, Women Driving Industry Diversity & Innovation

Sharné Jackson:
What have been some of your most rewarding career moments, and what advice would you give a young person who wants to pursue a career in the fragrance industry?

Ilaria Resta:
When I look back at my career I don’t see achievements, I see the faces of the people I have worked with over the last 25 years. I can vividly remember the moments we shared. And for me the biggest reward is when I can promote people in their career and when I see people in my organization growing. I am also really rewarded by transformation in the business. I love when you are the architect of a change—seeing the change and the disruption that you plan happen successfully.

As for advice, I would say the same to anyone starting a career in any field: I believe in the power of the three L’s: love, learn, and legacy. You need to love what you do. Love doesn’t always come easy. You will have hurdles. But what’s important is that you see the bright side of your love and feed your passion. Second, if you keep on learning every day and move from an attitude of ‘I know everything, I know how it’s done’ to one of openness and learning every day and learning new ways of solving problems that will give you agility and the ability to adjust to new realities. And the third one is legacy. You need to be able, when you do a job, to look back and be proud of what you left behind. It could be on the business side, or it could be a fragrance you created. What’s important is that you have that as a lighthouse as you keep on working.

Linda G. Levy:
Why is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion so necessary in the industry and why is #FragranceForwardTFF so important?

Ilaria Resta:
It is fundamental. Diversity is an obligation to represent society. And as society changes, diversity will change, and the meaning of diversity will change. I am a true believer that we need to be a mirror of society and represent in an equitable way our society. Today, it is not the case in this industry. And it’s surprising, because this is an industry whose products are consumed by women and loved by women and we have amazing women creators. But still, diversity is not there in the management teams, and there is no diversity across geography in terms of ethnicity, so I see many gaps in diversity. It is fundamental that as leaders in our roles in the industry we need to push for it and enforce it. Sometimes you need to force something from specific hiring practices and focus on diversity as criteria number one. I hope one day this will no longer be the case because we will reach a level of parity.

I am surprised that we lack diversity because it is very well proven by millions of studies that diversity improves business results – and not only that it improves creativity because through diversity and different points of view creativity increases and creativity is the lifeblood of this industry. So, I see no reason why we shouldn’t push for diversity. It’s an effort, because starting from the schools there isn’t even equal representation there, and I’m not talking only about sexual representation but also country of origin, sexual orientation, everything – so even at the base of our recruitment we cannot find diversity.
But what we cannot achieve we need to create. We need to give the tools to educate the people who are under-represented in our industry. We should as an industry talk about how we can create the conditions for all of the under-represented people to have access to our industry.

Feb

SPOTLIGHT:
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS

SPOTLIGHT:<br>WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT:
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS

SPOTLIGHT:<br>WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS

Keta Burke-Williams, Founder

How would you describe your brand’s unique passion and point of view?

Aspen Apothecary exists to create non-toxic, earth friendly fragrances that amplify you as you are. We are inspired by a story our Jamaican mother told us that showed us the power of scent and memory. We are inspired by the knowledge that beautiful fragrances that make us feel good can be crafted without many traditional toxins, and we are driven by the belief that we are all deserving. We are enough as we are, and our fragrances exist to celebrate that!

Why did you decide to join TFF?

We were particularly inspired to join TFF after attending a webinar and learning more about the #fragranceforwardtff initiative. It’s no secret that the industry is not diverse, and we want to be change-drivers reshaping that narrative of who can be the faces behind the brands. We are excited to be members alongside some members and institutions with incredible industry knowledge and passion. We can’t wait to learn from other members, and share our unique perspective as newcomers to the industry to see how we can all take part in helping the world experience the power of scent. I truly believe scent has the power to make us feel and help us connect, and The Fragrance Foundation does important work to help us all consider what the future of fragrance can and should look like.

What do you believe that your brand can contribute to TFF’s mission “to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance”?

Black, female founded and owned, our very existence is driving change in fragrance. We want to change who has a hand in creating fragrances and who fragrances are created for. We are creating fragrances for those of us who have been left out of the traditional narrative, due to color, belief, self-expression, or identity.
We are so excited to bring our unique viewpoint because we believe fragrance has the power to connect us. It allows us to recognize the humanity in one another. For us, fragrance and the power of scent are the ultimate form of self-care, so we are excited to inspire others to experience the world of fragrance!

Mara Dumski, Chief Fragrance Experience Officer

How would you describe your brand’s unique passion and point of view?

We simply want to bring the beauty of fragrance to more people, more often. That ambition led to innovation that blends fragrance, creativity, and technology together to create a home scenting experience unlike any other. We are curators and collaborators with a diverse and prestigious marketplace encompassing the perfect fragrance experience for all individuals.

Why did you decide to join TFF?

Quality changes everything. If our fragrances aren’t the best, created by the best in the industry, we have no place in millions of homes. We know that being part of The Fragrance Foundation gives us the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry leaders, and leads us to putting the best fragrances in the homes of our customers. It is a privilege to associate with organizations prioritizing shared values like the Fragrance Foundation’s mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

What do you believe that your brand can contribute to TFF’s mission “to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance”?

Our innovative marriage of fragrance and technology delivers the experience of scent to homes in a way people have never quite felt before. Pura and the Fragrance Foundation understand that fragrance can change your day, your mood, your life, and your attitude. Scent transports you to places where memories are emotional and opens your heart for music to play and colors to dance. Through Pura’s belief in the power of fragrance, we bring the voice of the future to The Fragrance Foundation.

Jim Maki, President

How would you describe your brand’s unique passion and point of view?

Sisley-Paris is a family-owned French cosmetics company with a rich history in fragrances. Even before the brand launched in 1976, Hubert d’Ornano and his brother founded a small perfumery business together. The d’Ornano family looks at each fragrance as though it is a work of art and is inspired by their own personal experiences and memories when creating them. Each perfume not only contains high quality rare essences that are perfectly balanced but the bottles are also little works of art, designed by Polish sculptor Bronislaw Krzysztof.

Why did you decide to join TFF?

Given Sisley’s rich history in fragrances and deep passion for the axis and world as a whole, we look forward to being more involved in the fragrance community. We are interested in learning more from industry experts and working alongside others in the organization to teach and inspire.

What do you believe that your brand can contribute to TFF’s mission “to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance”?

Fragrances are so deeply personal to the d’Ornano family with each scent having its own unique story. Sharing the story of the family’s passion for scent and their journey when creating notes and accords that are distinctly their own is what truly brings the Sisley fragrance house to life. We can’t wait to share new exciting innovations in our collections that continue to highlight our heritage and unique mark on the fragrance category.

Robert Dobay & Christopher Draghi, Founders


How would you describe your brand’s unique passion and point of view?


We are just as passionate about the process of creating a fragrance as we are about sharing it with the world. Because we formulate the initial accords and facets for target compositions in-house before going to the team at the fragrance house to perfect, our brand’s distinct point of view is inherent in each of our final fragrances. It is important to us to have original scents that are uniquely “adage”.


Why did you decide to join TFF?


The Fragrance Foundation has the credibility and the resources to help us introduce our brand and to connect with the best in the industry. Our love of fragrance, the formulation process, and the excitement of bringing a finished product to the shelf is a shared joy in the community that we look forward to participating in.


What do you believe that your brand can contribute to TFF’s mission “to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance”?


Beyond expressing our passion for what we do, we hope that we contribute to the education of the fragrance consumer as well. Our fragrances are not only an expression of our own passion and creativity but also of the mastery of a team of expert perfumers and evaluators. We cherish that partnership, we learn from it ourselves, and try to inform our audience of what is involved to bring a fragrance to life so that they have a better appreciation for the scents they wear.

Brittany Bell, Director of Fragrance & Education

How would you describe your brand’s unique passion and point of view?

We believe that though our eyes show us the world, it’s what we breathe in that brings us closer to it. At Voluspa, we handcraft scents filled with the essence of exotic locations, rare ingredients and unique experiences, and package them in vibrantly evocative designs that capture a true sense of place. Every fragrance enables a personal journey of discovery that brings the best of the world into your world and expands your horizons along the way.

Why did you decide to join TFF?

We are thrilled to join the TFF to connect with like-minded industry professionals and brands who are passionate about fragrance and fragrance culture. We are so excited to utilize our membership with TFF to further learn and immerse ourselves in the industry and to continue to grow and develop our products and brand.

What do you believe that your brand can contribute to TFF’s mission “to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance”?

With the strike of a match, our complex, globally-sourced fragrances instantly construct a world around you that illuminates your unique interests and passions. Not only do our products ignite a sense of adventure and travel, the vessels themselves are equally captivating, transforming not only your mood but physical space as well, through the use of colors, intricate patterns, textures and more. Our fragrances inspire others to unlock a world of discovery through scent by their transportive qualities, erasing the space between memory and reverie to fill in the details of a daydream.

Jan

SPOTLIGHT: REMEMBERING MANFRED THIERRY MUGLER

SPOTLIGHT: REMEMBERING MANFRED THIERRY MUGLER
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: REMEMBERING MANFRED THIERRY MUGLER

SPOTLIGHT: REMEMBERING MANFRED THIERRY MUGLER

Manfred Thierry Mugler, who sadly passed away on January 23rd, was a true visionary whose impact on fashion and fragrance cannot be overstated. Having launched his eponymous designer label in Paris in 1974, he ascended to superstar status in the 1980s with his dramatic-yet-graceful silhouettes: emphatically structured shoulders, wasp waists, and prominent peplums that reshaped the body as well as the fashion landscape. Everything he did, from his over-the-top runway spectacles to his lavish, unforgettable advertising campaigns was uncompromising and unlike anything that had come before—something that was also true of his revolutionary approach to fragrance, which he truly believed to be a wearable art. In Part 1 of Accords’ special edition dedicated to Mugler’s genius, two women who worked with him closely— Mugler & Azzaro Global President L’Oreal, Sandrine Groslier-Douhet, and Nicole Fischelis, the fashion expert and former Saks VP who introduced Mugler’s collections to the USA—share memories of their charismatic, legendary friend.

What was your experience working with Thierry regarding the launch of Angel?

Let me quote Manfred himself who said: “I always wanted to make a perfume that could have a common resonance for everyone, something close to tenderness, to childhood. I wanted to have such a sensual contact with this perfume that you almost want to eat the person you love.”


A blue fragrance? A star shaped bottle? A scent with the notes of food? How many times would he hear it was impossible! But Manfred Thierry Mugler would not know the word impossible!


He wanted to create something never seen before, never smelled before which would break the stereotypes and conventions. Indeed, no one could stop him in this dream. Angel really did revolutionize the fragrance industry and created the news fragrance genre: the gourmands.


Angel is the quintessence of the Mugler spirit. A hymn to pleasure, the sensual and carnal fragrance of a woman who is part-angel, part-demon. This fragrance has a power of metamorphosis, with the interplay of multiple facets it is the essence of femininity.

What is your most cherished personal memory of him?

I remember so many bright afternoons of creation with him, ideas that burst forth, his great enthusiasm to push the boundaries of our industry. I remember these difficulties in accepting legal or technical constraints. And this sentence he said to me one day when I asked him to sign a contract: “Do you believe Sandrine that I came to Earth for this kind of thing?”


He felt on a mission. He always wanted to surprise people, to amaze his fans, to create deep emotions and connections with people. A few days ago, again, he told me “Sandrine, I want to make people dream, put magic in their lives, give them a scene and provide strong emotions.” He was a magician.

How would you describe his creative vision, and what made him so unique?

Manfred Thierry Mugler was a genius of everything and had a profound impact on fashion and beauty worldwide. He was a man who inspired, refused compromise and consensus, the one for whom there were no limits.


He was a creator with infinite energy and a boundless sense of creativity who dreamed much harder and further than the others and who built a rich, multiple, coherent legacy. He was nourished with fantasies; he refused nothing, dreamed of himself handsome and strong like the titans of comics, post-war American comic strips.


Manfred Thierry Mugler wanted everything, ran everything and finally obtained everything, being always ahead of his time. He also pioneered the diversity and inclusiveness in fashion, exploring the human in all its dimensions and invented a life to excess.


Apart from his undoubted genius, extreme and uncontrollable, he was a very sensitive and generous man and this is how I will remember him.

What was so revelatory about Thierry’s approach to fragrance, and how did it relate to his fashion creations?

I think that if I should use just two words, this would be BOLDNESS and EXCESS!
Manfred did not know the limits, that is why in the perfumes you have so many overdoses of ingredients, they were at the times an olfactory shock. They were and still are very polarizing, delighting those who refuse half measures and compromise.

According to Mugler, perfume is the absolute art of metamorphosis. Like fashion, it means staging oneself. It enhances the personality, shapes the aura and offers freedom to be someone else, the pleasure of being known and recognized without unveiling yourself. The olfactory shock has a magical effect: it allows those who wear a Mugler fragrance to accept the various facets of their personality, to play on duality, and really enjoy it.

What do you believe his legacy will be in the fragrance world?

I think it will be Freedom. Freedom to create with no fear to break the codes.
Let me sum it up with another quotation of Manfred Thierry Mugler that concludes it perfectly: “I know why my perfumes are so attractive. It’s exactly the same thing that made me so popular as a fashion designer: a signature without concessions, very recognizable and outside conventional codes.”

How did you first bring Thierry Mugler to America?


At the time, I was running the Paris buying office for Saks Fifth Avenue. I was in charge of discovering new talent. That’s how I discovered many designers Saks launched in those years, including people like Christian Lacroix, Claude Montana, and Thierry Mugler. I got a phone call from Thierry’s representative in the early ’80s, and she came to my office with a suitcase. That’s how they did it at the time. She opened the suitcase on my desk, and she pulled out this jacket with this entirely new construction with these shoulders, and a peplum—typical of Mugler. I could not believe what I was seeing, because it was so modern, and so fresh, and so beautifully made. I fell in love with it. Saks bought the line exclusively, right away.


Saks continued to have a great business with his ready-to-wear collection. We used to attend every single show that he produced in Paris, which was so grand, and so spectacular, and so inspirational, and so new and different, with all the star models, the music and the decor. There’s a retrospective going on in Paris right now, at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, where you can see videos of the shows from those years. They were incredible.

What do you remember about the launch of Angel?


We launched Angel fragrance with an event at Saks. I’ll never forget it. Diana Ross came with Mugler to present it. It was an incredible evening and party.


I was completely in love and obsessed with Angel. I think the best way to explain what makes it so special is that it’s all the senses. First of all, the blue color. And then the way that star bottle feels in the hand. And the smell… The jasmine. Personally, I always love jasmine. And the fruity, sweet smell is like a flavor. But it’s not just the way that it touches your senses—it also elevates your imagination. There is definitely a magic to it. You see that star, and it takes you somewhere else.

What are your personal memories of Mugler himself?


Thierry was an amazing persona. He was modest, in his own way. He was always very extremely cheerful, and charming. And his vision was totally futuristic. And he was an artist. He was a designer, but he was an artist, and he was a show maker, and he was a photographer. He had so many different talents. He was a great individualist, but at the same time with a wonderful character.

Everything he did had so many dimensions.


Yes! The fragrance had unique dimension, and the clothes had a unique dimension. Not just enhancing your femininity, but at the same time it was sort of promoting you, giving you strength, because of the construction. They were very wonderful to wear. You wore them, they didn’t wear you.

What do you think his lasting legacy will be?


The magic of his work, you still see today. It came to me when I saw the retrospective in Paris. I got kind of emotional, because it brought me back to this whole time of my career. And it was very clear to me the influence that he still has on the new generation—you can see it in rising designers, the lines of his work.


And the fragrance is also going to remain. It’s unique. It’s individualistic. That’s why it’s still so successful. And the bottle… I mean, everyone keeps it. It’s like an art object. And it had such an impact. Not just the fragrance and the bottle, but even the advertising around it. You never saw that before—Jerry Hall on that mountain! I think the man was a genius.

Dec

SPOTLIGHT: NEXT For AUTISM & AARMY

SPOTLIGHT: NEXT For AUTISM & AARMY
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: NEXT For AUTISM & AARMY

SPOTLIGHT: NEXT For AUTISM & AARMY

NEXT For AUTISM has been a powerful force in providing resources for autistic individuals and their families, as well as in driving forward awareness and acceptance, ever since the non-profit was founded in 2003. With every year, the organization—and its impact—just gets stronger. To mark TFF’s ongoing Give Back support of NEXT For AUTISM—and the partnership’s third annual AARMY Bootcamp Fundraiser, which took place on December 7th—ACCORDS welcomes NEXT For AUTISM co-founder Laura Slatkin, as well supporters from TFF Board of Directors  Mark Knitowski, SVP of Product Innovation for Victoria Secret Beauty, and from  TFF Executive Committee & Board Ron Rolleston, General Manager of Global Fragrance at Revlon, to discuss the strides made in 2021 towards making communities and workplaces more inclusive for those with autism, and what it means for them.

Laura Slatkin:

What have been the main achievements of NEXT For AUTISM in 2021?

We feel like we have cracked the code in terms of how NEXT can make a meaningful impact on what the future can hold for autistic adults. One area in particular has been the need to support the workforce of direct support professionals (DSPs).  For too long, DSPs have been without adequate training, professional development, benefits, and livable wages. To this end, NEXT For AUTISM has partnered with The ARC Westchester to launch “NEXT for DSPs,”  a professional learning model focusing on components of choice, belonging, healthy living, and life-long learning. Amidst a national workforce crisis, NEXT For AUTISM is working every day to move the needle for DSPs and this critical profession that serves our community. 

 This year, we launched NEXT for GOING OUT, an easy-to-use resource providing visual support tools for adults with autism and the professionals supporting them. Picture supports for common activities like shopping and going to the library will be easily accessible for every adult. Using visual supports improves the ability of adults with autism to be independent and have more control of their world. 

We also launched NEXT GEN CONNECT, a peer mentorship program to improve acquisition and retention of employment for autistic adults. We are leveraging the passion and skills of professionals to act as mentors. Neurotypical people can fill the role as mentors, but ideally mentors will have autism too. After we pilot, evaluate and refine our program, we will disseminate it across the myriad of channels available for mentor relationships. These include alumni associations working with soon to be college graduates, young professionals committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, autism networks interested in supporting the emerging workforce—we are open to all interested.

What are some of the biggest challenges for autistic individuals in the workplace?

Adults with autism continue to face barriers to meaningful employment. In actuality, those barriers can be quite simple. As an example, some individuals with autism simply don’t interview well—yet they are highly skilled to outperform on the job, so what should the “interviewing” process look like for an autistic individual? Other times the barriers are more complicated. With a heightened focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and thanks to a grant from the Bhatia Family Foundation awarded to NEXT For AUTISM, we are creating a DEI toolkit for companies that are committed to reporting their disability statistics. NEXT for DEI encourages every business to measure their success in employing professionals with disabilities and promoting this data publicly, as they do with gender and race/ethnicity in their diversity reports.

Your son is at this age, so you are seeing many of these issues and positive experiences up close. How have NEXT resources benefited him?

David now has a sense of belonging and a sense of community. After one year of being in the NEXT program—everyone knows David in the community. The pizza parlor chefs know David likes his pizza not too hot, at the checkout counter in the local grocery store they all know it’s going to take David a little longer to put his groceries on the conveyor belt, and because he is now a known member of the community–they are very patient. At the local store where David gets his candy, he has a friend, Gina, who gives him a warm welcome when he walks in the door. A fulfilling and meaningful social life is key for any adult. Integrating into the community and having a sense of belonging is very important.

How has the pandemic affected those with autism in particular?

It’s been a challenging time. We have all experienced incalculable loss — of life, of opportunity, and of our daily patterns of living. For the community NEXT For AUTISM proudly serves, the stakes have changed. The isolation brought on by COVID-19 restrictions has only magnified the many disparities that autistic adults face at work, at home, and in their communities. We are keenly aware of how disconnected from their larger communities individuals with autism and their families often feel, even in the best of circumstances.

This was the third TFF/NEXT For AUTISM/AARMY event.

How does each year’s event build on this partnership ?

Since 2019, the GIVE BACK partnership has helped raise over $1.5M towards NEXT For AUTISM’s mission and initiatives. We are beyond grateful for The Fragrance Foundation’s commitment and generosity.  The TFF community has been a champion of opportunities and choices for autistic adults for many years, leading the way for acceptance and inclusion. On a personal note, the opportunity for me to bring my professional, personal and philanthropic worlds together has been very special on so many levels! 

Mark Knitowski:

What do you believe is the most important impact that NEXT For AUTISM has had for autistic individuals and their families?

The opportunity to provide confidence to the individuals about their value to themselves and others.  The pride they can take when they find themselves growing, evolving in a place and environment that they can be a part of.  

What has been your personal experience having a young adult son with autism, and how have NEXT programs and awareness-building been helpful?

The hope that as Kyle grows and evolves he can find what he loves to do and excel at it.  These young adults have so much to offer, they are incredibly smart and detailed. It takes patience to understand each individual for who they are and what they need, and NEXT For AUTISM programs do that. 

What is your advice to those who have recently been diagnosed, or have a family member who has been diagnosed?

Reach out. Don’t be worried about what people may think or say, as there will be people who you didn’t even know have been in a similar position, and have gone through it and have great insights. That is what happened with us. When friends and friends of friends found out Kyle was autistic, we were overwhelmed by the support and compassion. For that willingness to help, we are forever grateful. That help which started when Kyle was just about 2 helped him to progress, whereas if we didn’t have that support he may not have gotten as far as.  Get as educated as you can, believe in your missions to find out as much as you can through anyone you know who has been involved with autism.  NEXT For AUTISM is an amazing organization and resource that can guide anyone.

You have been a huge supporter of the TFF/ NEXT For AUTISM AARMY fundraisers, which are such joyful events. How do feel that these events energize the organization and the overall movement? 

The support and compassion for NEXT For AUTISM with the Fragrance Foundation’s commitment to continue to create visibility in a fun and engaging way (a little tiring, I am not in the shape I need to be in) for the autistic community has been humbling. The TFF/NEXT For AUTISM AARMY event especially embodies the spirit of so many in the autistic community, who are always pushing forward, and never giving up.   

Ron Rolleston:

What do you believe is the most important impact that NEXT For AUTISM has had for autistic individuals and their families?

The most challenging thing about autism is what happens to autistic individuals when they become adults. An autistic individual gets educational support and services through childhood until young adulthood but they all eventually age out of those programs. It is difficult for many of them to find meaningful work and integrate into the world. I think the fact this organization helps them in the next stage of their lives is very valuable. The idea that every autistic person can lead a meaningful and productive life means everything to me. It is the goal of every parent with an autistic child.

What is your advice to those who have recently been diagnosed, or have a family member who has been diagnosed?

The advice question is challenging . Every autistic person is unique. They are on a spectrum. It really depends on the individual. When children are first diagnosed, it is essential that they get early intervention in areas such as speech and language. The early intervention is key and then you see how each autistic individual responds to define their therapies.

You have been a huge supporter of the TFF/ NEXT For AUTISM AARMY fundraisers, which are such joyful events. How do feel that these events energize the organization and the overall movement? 

I think these events serve to raise money for individuals who are very much in need . As importantly, if people take the time to learn about autism, I think it benefits society as a whole, as well as the autistic community. I believe that as more people become aware of autism and its challenges, the more society will welcome autistic people into the mainstream and allow them to lead productive lives.

Nov

SPOTLIGHT: CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREES VIRGINIA BONOFIGLIO + STEPHAN KANLIAN

SPOTLIGHT: CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREES VIRGINIA BONOFIGLIO + STEPHAN KANLIAN Stephan Kanlian, Virginia Bonofiglio
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREES VIRGINIA BONOFIGLIO + STEPHAN KANLIAN

SPOTLIGHT: CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS HONOREES VIRGINIA BONOFIGLIO + STEPHAN KANLIAN Stephan Kanlian, Virginia Bonofiglio

This year’s Circle of Champions event was the first in the Fragrance Foundation’s history to honor educators. Reflecting TFF’s firm belief that access to education is key to building a flourishing and diverse fragrance industry fueled with fresh ideas, the two honorees are top-of-class veteran educators with unsurpassed knowledge about what makes the scent business tick. Virginia Bonofiglio, assistant professor and head of FIT’s undergraduate program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing (CFM), and Stephan Kanlian, professor and head of the college’s graduate program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management (CFMM), share their insights on the importance of FIT, its relationship with TFF, and education for all. 

Virginia Bonofiglio:

This was the first time that educators have been honored with the Circle of Champions awards.  What did that mean to you?

I have always believed that education is the path to success. 

The recognition by the Fragrance Foundation of the importance of education for the fragrance industry is a confirmation of the importance of educating the next generation, which is FIT’s mantra. I was deeply honored by this award and thrilled that the Fragrance Foundation and its membership values the work we are doing in preparing students for the role they will play in this fabulous industry. I applaud the Foundation’s forward thinking in making education an important part of their ongoing mission to support fragrance as a business, an art form and a societal touchpoint.

What is unique about the programs at FIT?

 FIT’s Fragrance and Cosmetics programs, CFM and CFMM, are built around academic excellence and industry know-how. There are very few college programs that follow the industry as closely as these two programs do. In order to provide the fragrance industry with innovators and game changers we need to offer students a profound understanding of the industry’s current toolkit while providing a pathway to where the industry should be going in the future. 

What has always been most important for you to teach your students about the fragrance industry?

We live in an opti-centric society. Our main way of relating to the world and things around us is by using our sense of sight. This has become even more prevalent during the time of Covid, where our reliance on screens has escalated and our world has become two dimensional. I always start every fragrance class with a review of all of the sensory experiences we need to have in order to enrich our lives. My focus is to drill down to the importance of the sense of smell and the role of the fragrance industry. I confirm for my students that in addition to covering malodors and providing pleasure, fragrances can define a decade and delineate a culture.  

What unifies the undergraduates coming into the program?

The great unifier for our students is their passion for this industry. While there are other universities that offer similar programs FIT has three distinct advantages: cost, location and a fragrance laboratory on the campus. 

Our students are a unique brand of college student that has made a choice about their field of study at the beginning of their college career. Many of them have taken high school classes on the campus and this solidifies their desire to come to FIT for the Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing program. We find that students who do not get in the first time they apply, will return and apply the following year.

What is so special to you about your relationship with The Fragrance Foundation?

The Fragrance Foundation has been an integral part of the Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing program at FIT since its inception.  Annette Green, President Emeritus of the Fragrance Foundation, was one of the original founders of the CFM program.  It was her vision to create a course of study at FIT that would prepare the next generation of industry leaders. The Fragrance Foundation supported the creation of a Fragrance Studio on the campus of FIT to ensure that the curriculum included a strong commitment to fragrance knowledge.

Linda Levy, current President of the Fragrance Foundation, and her team continue to support the CFM program at FIT, and CFM’s relationship to the Fragrance Foundation remains strong. We share common goals and ideas about the fragrance business. The Fragrance Foundation’s dedication to DEI mirrors FIT’s devotion to the same objective. The Fragrance Foundation FIT Diversity Scholarship demonstrates this mutual commitment. We are both ardent about education and its importance for moving the industry forward.  

We will continue to partner with the Fragrance Foundation to build a like minded community of fragrance enthusiasts including members of industry, students of fragrance, and ardent supporters of the Fragrance Foundation and its mission.

Stephan Kanlian: 

What did being a Circle of Champions honoree mean to you?

It meant everything to me. FIT educators have been very honored over the years to be the “first educator” to represent the beauty industry in many roles, all owing to the investment the industry has chosen to make in not only educating talent for industry, but “educating the educators.”

What attributes do you think are most important for a graduate to succeed in fragrance?  

First: the dual competency of being both analytic and creative, is a foundational benchmark, given the sophistication of consumer science and competitive nature of the business. Second: a global perspective and appreciation of global culture, both for consumer understanding and inspiration. Success in fragrance depends on having the mind of an entrepreneur and the heart of a poet! 

Why and how is a global perspective especially important for your students? 

 The intimacy of fragrance and all beauty products, and their representation of individual expression requires a deep knowledge and nuanced understanding of global culture.  As a former business diplomat, that seemed elemental to me when I became an educator. We normally take the students to six countries in two global regions on their academic field studies.

What do you think are the greatest achievements of the CFMM program? 

 Two things stand out as the lasting legacy of the CFMM Program: the leadership of its graduates as change agents in the re-shaping of industry, and the prescience of the student research in accurately predicting coming shifts in the marketplace and recommending ways to future proof businesses.

What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in the 22 years of heading the program? 

Change is a constant in the consumer space – as fundamental as change in individuals themselves. I like to think of these 22 years as a “generation” and the changes have been generational, indeed: the development of lifestyle marketing, the growth in the sophistication of behavioral and consumer science, the evolution of retail, the blurring of lines of distinction in distribution, the importance of people & planet in measuring profit, the importance of supply chain to innovation, globalization, and the advent of technology have been the hallmarks of this particular epoch of change. 

What do you find most gratifying about teaching? 

I deeply admire the intellect of the fragrance industry, and to be entrusted with educating it’s best and brightest is a great honor. But the gratification of teaching itself, and the joy of watching students discover their leadership voice, is an exceptional privilege. There is no more important role in society to ensure its future than that of “teacher”, whether it is in families, schools, the workplace or volunteer organizations.

 What is so special to you about your relationship with The Fragrance Foundation?  

Without the Fragrance Foundation, these programs at FIT would not exist. It was the support and “push” of industry and President Emeritus Annette Green that established the Bachelor’s program, and her successors have all been believers in education who have partnered with FIT in creating a unique collaboration and the only working fragrance laboratory on a US college campus.  Before Linda Levy led the Foundation, for example, she was an Advisory Board member to the Master’s Program in the early 2000’s while at P&G. That combination of industry insight and academic expertise is the future of education, in my opinion, and what makes the FIT/Fragrance Foundation partnership so visionary and so special in the world of academia. In my heart I am an entrepreneur, and the limitless possibilities of this industry/academic collaboration, and its ability to push the boundaries of normal academic pedagogy, are what feed me as an educator.

Oct

SPOTLIGHT: BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE WITH #FRAGRANCEFORWARDTFF

SPOTLIGHT: BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE WITH #FRAGRANCEFORWARDTFF
Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT: BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE WITH #FRAGRANCEFORWARDTFF

SPOTLIGHT: BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE WITH #FRAGRANCEFORWARDTFF

On October 20th, TFF kicked off its ambitious and focused DEI initiative with Industry Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a free webinar watched by more than 1,500 attendees, including beauty and fragrance executives, individuals from fragrance brands and media, as well as students and consumers across the country. The event brought to life and articulated #FragranceForwardTFF, the industry-wide inclusivity movement that TFF is galvanizing in order to push forward significant and visible change.

The event featured a thoughtful and engaging discussion from panelists Chris Collins, the founder of World of Chris Collins, Corey Smith, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for North America, LVMH, Rob Smith, CEO and Founder of The Phluid Project, and Linda Song, Senior Perfumer at Givaudan. Each of these inspiring individuals shared their personal stories with moderator Helen Shelton, Global Chief Diversity Officer and luxury brand marketing communications expert at Finn Partners, as well as a wealth of insight and actionable advice both for those inside and outside the fragrance industry.

Jerry Vittoria, Chairman of the Fragrance Foundation Board of Directors opened the webinar, naming DEI as the number one priority of TFF, and outlining the broad definition of diversity that the organization considers important to its mission. “Our definition of diversity goes beyond gender,” he said, “to include all contexts in which people may identify themselves as part of a minority group. These include ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, different abilities, age, and a variety of backgrounds.” Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy outlined the #FragranceForwardTFF goal, “to foster a fully inclusive industry that truly represents the population of the USA” and introduced the panelists, all of whom had passionate and nuanced thoughts to share on how the entire industry can ignite and propel positive changes.

They all shared personal stories—Collins discussed his journey from fashion into fragrance, and his acknowledgment from the outset that “Whether you’re Black or you’re a woman or you’re LBGTQ+, you have to work three times as hard for anyone to take you seriously”; Song recollected her “love story” with raw materials that drew her in, and mused on how being Korean in America, and a woman, has shaped and enriched her work; Rob Smith outlined his journey from Macy’s and the corporate world into the Phluid Project, the world’s first gender free store, and the Phluid Scent Elixirs. “Why should anything be strictly male or female?” he asked. “It should be about what makes you feel good and brings out your authentic self”; and Corey Smith, who has spent more than 20 years working in DEI, highlighted the challenges and importance of initiating changes within an industry that cherishes heritage.

The panel touched on everything from the need for visibility and representation in marketing to the critical importance of the three A’s: allyship, advocacy, and activism. Corey Smith drove home the point that all efforts need to be 360—and while pledges are important, what’s even more important is “having diverse products on our shelves, products created by diverse people for diverse people.” They offered advice for anyone, but especially minorities, to break into the fragrance business, from networking to mentoring, to just sticking with it. “Don’t be afraid to fail,” said Collins. “If you’re afraid to fail, that means you’re afraid to take risks. You have to be courageous enough to know that you’re going to get some things wrong. You have to learn from your mistakes. And you can’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Song spoke about the importance of having this conversation at all levels of the industry, and thanked The Fragrance Foundation and Michael Edwards for taking a strong stance about the use of the term “oriental” in the fragrance industry, recognizing that it is outdated and offensive, and announced that Givaudan will now be using the classification Amber-y in its place. Corey Smith talked about how critical cognitive diversity is, and all agreed that greater diversity means greater creativity, output, and success. “There is a value in difference,” he said. “Innovation comes from difference. Productivity, efficiency. All of that comes from a bunch of different people sitting around a table and debating until the best idea rises to the top.”

And as for how we move the needle in the right direction? It will take everyone, individually and together. “Accountability is individual, then it’s team, then it’s organization,” said Corey Smith. “It’s a level of self-awareness, learning, unlearning, respecting difference. All of that contributes to what we call inclusion.” Rob Smith advised taking leaps, having conversations, listening, being aware, and celebrating every individual. “You’re going to have to do things that are untraditional in order to make space for untraditional brands to succeed,” he said. “We’re never done with this journey, so let’s keep pushing and challenging each other.”

Among the questions submitted by viewers in a post-event follow-up was: What would you change if you were Chairman of the Board at a large fragrance house or corporate fragrance brand? “First,” Rob Smith said, “I’d look at the diverse composition of the Leadership team and the Board of Directors. I’d make a commitment toward diverse representation, equitable pay and an inclusive environment. I’d ensure the company had ERG’s and a mentor program for high potential and diverse executives. Finally, I’d hire outside consultants to hold the team accountable.” He also offered advice for finding mentors: “Reach out to people you admire. Find a few mentors who can guide you through your career. And, understand, they may not look like you. Many people are looking for talent and opportunities to create a more inclusive future.”

“When seeking a mentor, don’t give up and try not to take it personally—sometimes reaching out to someone on the wrong day or wrong time is just that,” Song said, in response to the question. “Try again, try a different approach, try a different person, take time to self-reflect, pick yourself back up and keep going!” And regarding what TFF’s DEI initiative means to her personally, she said, “All individuals play a role. I never would have imagined speaking on this topic or that I would ever feel qualified, but it’s a human experience and we all have the right to it.”

Levy closed Industry Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with an announcement of the creation of an industry-wide, Fragrance Foundation DEI Signatory Pledge. TFF’s 100+ members – that include both independent and corporate entities – will commit not only to furthering their respective DEI goals, but also to assisting TFF in building and shaping #FragranceForwardTFF in the months and years ahead. The pledge in full: “I commit to being fragrance forward by holding myself and my company accountable at all levels to drive diversity, equity and inclusion. I commit to breaking boundaries for people of all backgrounds in launching, growing, and sustaining careers in the fragrance industry. I commit to actionable steps to broadening my perspective, changing my workplace, and changing the industry.”

Sep

The Reimagineer: Michael Clinton

The Reimagineer: Michael Clinton
Spotlight

The Reimagineer: Michael Clinton

The Reimagineer: Michael Clinton

September 2021

“I appear to have struck a chord,” says Michael Clinton, whose book ROAR Into the Second Half of Your Life (Before It’s Too Late) is currently—and with considerable zeitgeist-capturing buzz—climbing best-seller lists. ROAR (an acronym that stands for four actionable steps towards a more fulfilling future: Reimagine yourself, Own who you are, Act on what’s next, and Reassess your relationships) was born when Clinton stepped away from his role as president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines, and it’s an inspirational, motivational exhortation to view growing older as an opportunity to forge new opportunities and experiences. Clinton—an accomplished photographer, pilot, philanthropist, marathon runner, and wine maker—is himself a role model in this regard, and while ROAR may be targeted at the post-50 set, it resonates with anyone looking to re-examine their relationship with work and envisioning moving through the chapters of their life with passion and gusto. Here, Clinton shares his advice with ACCORDS on how to take steps – and yes, even fragrant sniffs – towards a happy future.

You interviewed 40 people who made major life pivots for ROAR. Who did you find most personally inspiring?

We called them Reimagineers. One was a woman named Stephanie Young. She was a book editor for her whole career. She had studied English in college. She was 53 when she decided that she wanted to become a doctor. She applied to American medical schools and she faced a lot of ageism, but she then got accepted to a Caribbean medical school. During that process, she went through a divorce. So, after getting scholarships and grants to fund her education, she went off to the Caribbean on her own in her mid-50s. I thought that took an enormous amount of courage. She’s now in her early 60s and she is a doctor. She had a lot of twists and turns along the way, but she just kept going. She kept pushing forward. She had a great quote: “You can’t read about the top 10 most beautiful futures. You have to find it through yourself, keep the vision, even when you stumble along the way.

You also conducted a huge survey, gauging people’s feelings about their life choices. What were some of the most surprising findings?

We had 630 respondents, a cross-section of people from all kinds of walks of life, and we asked them if they could do a major redo of their life, would they? Seventy-six percent of them said they would, which was a surprise to me. Then we gave them the opportunity to write in what defining moment in their life they would redo. The number one response was, “I would redo my marriage or not marry the person that I married,” which was really interesting. The second was, “I wish I had taken school more seriously so that I could have done more, expanded more, had other opportunities.”

But the majority of people still felt optimistic about future possibilities and things they might do. This gets back to the thesis of the book, that if you’re 50 and you’re healthy, you may live to be 90, and when you pivot out of a first career, you begin to realize that you have another 20, 30, maybe more, years to live. It’s not your father’s or your mother’s retirement.

What can hold people back?

Two things. One is self-imposed barriers. They say, “I coulda, shoulda, woulda” or “I made a mistake and I didn’t do X or I didn’t do Y.” The second thing is self-imposed ageism. They say, “I’m too old to do that.” Where did that come from? In the book, instead of using the term age appropriate, I say person appropriate. Women are having babies at 50. You may decide to adopt in your 50s. You may decide to completely change your career in your 50s. To say you’re too old for something is an old-fashioned way of thinking about it.

What are signs people should be aware of that it might be time for change in their lives?

I think we all have this little nagging voice in the back of our heads when we need change. Generally, what happens is it gets louder and louder and you can ignore it and be dissatisfied or you can confront it and identify it and say, “Okay, I know that I’ve got to leave this profession or this company or this relationship.”

One of my favorite stories in the book is Rob Smith. He wanted to work in social justice, but his father told him, “I’m only going to pay for college if you study business.” So, he studied business, and had a long successful career at Macy’s, but then when he was around 50, he had kind of a meltdown and he said, “I need to check out and think about my life.” He went traveling and did an ayahuasca ceremony in Peru, and in a hallucinogenic state, he saw his 16-year-old self and said, “I’m so sorry that I abandoned you.” I thought that was very poetic and also poignant. He came back home and he started the Phluid Project, and moved into the social justice space in his 50s. He’s now thriving and loving it.

What’s your advice for people who feel like they need something new, but don’t know where to start?

What I learned from the interviewees is they identified what it was that they needed to change, then they spent a year-plus going deep into it, really pulling it apart to figure out how they were going to make that change. It wasn’t a spontaneous thing. It was very well thought out. Some of them started creating parallel lives to their existing life by turning a hobby into a passion or starting to freelance. A lot of them went back to school.

You also shared a very nice concept of life-layering to find your passion.

That’s right. If you start building a layer, over time that layer may become your launchpad into a new business, or into becoming an entrepreneur. In the beauty industry, there are lots of examples of people who worked for established beauty companies but then went off and launched their own skincare or fragrance or something else in the beauty world. That’s an example of layering. You learn different aspects of the job you already do. If you’re a marketing person and you’re weak on the financial side, then you can go and take some courses in financial management and start rounding out your business experience.

Do you think fragrance is a tool that can be used to focus, or open up connections that might help someone find their path?

We have to find the triggers that can put us into a state of reflection, introspection—let’s even call it meditation. I think fragrance is a great example of something that inherently brings that out. If you are sitting in your private space and you are reflecting on your life, having an aroma that can help facilitate that is a great tool. Sometimes that’s an applied fragrance. Sometimes that’s a fragrance in a candle.

Fragrances and aromas also invoke lots of memories. My grandmother was a huge influence on me, and when I smell the fragrance she wore, which was Youth Dew, it takes me right back to her wisdom, her advice. It makes me stop and think about her. If you had a powerful mentor or you had a powerful influence in your life and she or he wore something that was comforting to you, it will take you back to thinking about them, and put you in the state of really being able to take a deeper dive into your own life. Maybe it will take you back to a time when you were younger that you had a discussion with someone about what your dreams and aspirations were. You may pick up a thread just from that alone.

Ageism escapes a lot of DEI initiatives. What are your thoughts on how even employers can be more inclusive about age?

A very good point. If you think about it, ageism affects you regardless of your gender, your race, your ethnicity, your religious beliefs. It’s a universal experience that people over 50 have. Part of it is language. Part of it is government and corporate policies that haven’t kept pace with the change that is happening with the dynamic 50-plus cohort. Thirty-four percent of the population is now 50-plus. Every day, 10,000 people turn 65. In 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older.

I think that you’re going to see over the next few years a lot of change in policies, government institutions, and corporate policies, especially because a lot of people who are “retirement” age are going to leave a huge gap in employment needs. So you’ll have a lot of people who are 60-plus who are going to be working in different kinds of hybrid roles. There’s going to be a rethink because there are not enough people to fill what will become the jobs that the boomers will be leaving from their first careers.

In the book, instead of talking about retire, we talk about rewire. Instead of talking about getting older, we say we’re living longer. Instead of talking about self-imposed ageism, we focus on self-imposed growthism. Ultimately, things are going to change because the people are going to force change.

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.

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.

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. 

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!  

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.

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

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! 

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.

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.

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.

May

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

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

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

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

TFF Board Insight: Current & Future State of the Business

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

Marc Blaison, EVP, Cosmo International Fragrances

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

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

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

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

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

Not losing our sense of humor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diane Crecca, SVP, Arcade Beauty

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maria Dempsey, CEO, Nest Fragrances

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

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

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

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

Pierre Desaulles, CEO, Interparfums

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julien Gommichon, President Americas, Diptyque & BYREDO

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Knitowski, VP Product Innovation, Victoria’s Secret

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

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

Julianne Pruett, VP Fine Fragrance Sales, Symrise

How do you envision the future of fragrance? 

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

Jerry Vittoria, President Fine Fragrance Worldwide, Firmenich

How do you envision the future of fragrance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES Photo by Kelly Taub/BFA
Spotlight

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES

ART FROM THE HEART: REBECCA MOSES Photo by Kelly Taub/BFA

When Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy first encountered internationally renowned designer and artist Rebecca Moses, it was a meeting of scent-loving spirits and like minds. On a studio tour, Levy saw illustrations that Moses had done inspired by the island of Capri—particularly by its enchanting Mediterranean scents—and a grand idea was hatched: that Moses would bring her whimsy and exuberant talent to International Fragrance Day 2020 by creating a series of artworks depicting seven different aromatic profiles as highly individual (and fashionable) women. These enchanting images were unveiled at the Italian Trade Commission in February and will continue to bring color and delight to Fragrance Foundation events and communications, even as the year unfolds quite differently from what anyone had planned.

Moses’s response to the pandemic has been, beautifully, expressed through her artwork: She has created a new series of illustrations she calls The Stay Home Girls, each devoted to how a different woman is coping with the crisis, or finding bright moments where she can. Posted daily on Instagram, the works have galvanized a support system, opening up a network for women all over the world to share their stories and bond together in commiseration and in hope. Here, Moses talks about the power of art, her journey with fragrance, and the importance of putting good energy into the world—now, and always.  

What sparked the idea for the Stay Home Girls?

When the pandemic hit, most of my projects came to an end — they were canceled or put on a back burner, and I didn’t know what the future was. So, I had to create a project. I felt extraordinarily helpless not doing anything. I wanted to help people. I started creating these women, just sort of around the stories I was hearing. Some friends were reflecting on why they still bothered to put makeup on in the morning, others decided they would foster a dog, another said they started playing cards. After a certain point I had done about 30 creative ones that weren’t far from the truth, but they weren’t specific people. Then one night I was on the phone with a girlfriend of mine who is a brilliant lawyer and works for the state, and she told me about being home every day doing these Zoom conferences with five cats around her, and I just thought—this is a real story, I need to make these real stories. I started reaching out to a few people, and then it was like wildfire. I started getting letters and letters. Some of them are really heart-breaking. I go on video every couple of days to talk to the girls and tell them how remarkable they are, and they’ve kind of become a support group for each other. It just keeps growing. Now I paint all day long. I try to do four paintings a day. It’s a marathon. I’ve done 65 so far, and I just want to keep doing it.

Why do you think the Stay Home Girls have resonated so much?

It doesn’t really matter what we do, what our social status is, what our income is, what our ethnicity is, where we live, this is a global pandemic. It affects everyone. We’re all at a common crossroads. And I think that women want to relate to other women and hear what’s going on in their lives. Sometimes thinking about someone else’s problems makes your problems not look so serious. It can give you comfort. And even if it’s through social media – it gives you immediate comfort.

What has it meant to you personally?

If it can make a difference in one person’s life, then I’ve fulfilled my mission. It makes women feel proud to be illustrated, they love to be shared, there’s a common denominator that’s in all of us, and we all need hope. It’s been probably one of the most awesome things I’ve ever done. It gives me oxygen every day. It gives me hope. I think our lives will never be the same after this, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be better.

Let’s talk about how you shifted away from being a fashion designer. When did you begin to focus more on art?

After living in New York and getting the crazy idea of starting my own business, I fell in love, and I moved to Italy in 1992. I became the creative director of Gruppo Genny, which was a big deal for me, being young and American. But later, after I lost my husband, I decided to move back to New York, because it was so painful living there without him. When I got to New York, I started to do a lot more in the arts and with illustration, working with Italian Vogue and Marie Claire. All of a sudden, my life changed. Sometimes you don’t know what your road will be, but you just go with it.

How would you describe your illustration style?

I like to animate women. I like to make them larger than life. I like them to have personality and an attitude. It’s not about beauty in traditional terms. I did a big exhibition in 2016 called Imperfectly Perfect. The whole concept was that beauty today is so different from beauty of 10 years ago, and definitely from the beauty ideas that I was raised with. You can be so unconventional in your look, and in the way you express yourself. We all have things about us that are unique, some call it an oddity, some call it an imperfection. But to me those are the strengths that define us. Whether it’s the way we talk with our hands, whether it’s a certain look in the eye, whether it’s our approach to things. That’s what I like to communicate in the women that I create. It’s about telling a story through one woman, and I think being able to do that is so important. If I had to advise young creators, I’d tell them what they really need to do is master the art of storytelling.

You accomplished that so beautifully in your work for the Fragrance Foundation for Fragrance Day. 

Yes, it was a really natural project for me. The idea was to tell a story about something so important in the fragrance industry — the concept of what notes are. How do we illuminate what they are, how do we celebrate them, how do we show an emotion in each one?

What was your starting point for each one?

When Linda gave me this fabulous project, I thought, ‘oh, this is so much fun!’, I began to think about how there are profiles to people who choose certain notes. It’s all about how you express yourself. The first one I did was Floral [Click here to see all the Fragrance Day Artwork]. I wanted to make her the most regal woman in town, like she really did just come out of Versailles. I imagined music carrying her along in her beautiful rose skirt, and her crown of tuberose. Then, when I thought about Sweet notes, I saw cotton candy and vanilla and caramel, and I thought about someone who liked to have a good laugh. Someone who could wear a coconut bra, and really embrace a joke. Woody is very sophisticated. She’s savvy and she takes herself pretty seriously. To me, patchouli and amber are very seductive notes, so I saw her as someone a bit mysterious. Spicy has a zip to her — she’s not intimidated by anything. She has no trouble being feisty, and kind of kooky. Citrus has a cleanness and a brightness about her, a zest, and I did twins for fruit because I wanted them to be comical and vivacious. Lastly, for Fresh, I wanted somebody who was really celebrating life. Someone who could just be effortless. When you smell something fresh it takes away the tension. Think about the smell of basil and the sea and green notes. Isn’t there something that just makes you want to breathe in and sigh?

How did you approach the animations?

It was just about taking the girls and setting them to music and bringing them to life. It was so much fun! To see Fresh with the turtles swimming around her ankles, and Citrus with her lemons dancing. We wanted to add a little bit of something that would give you even more insight to who this lady is. But I think what’s unique about what we’re doing is that we’re bringing together fashion, beauty, style, fragrance, music, and color — all of these different forms of expression — to celebrate a note.

What do you want people to get from your work?

I like to make people smile. The feel-good factor is very important to me. I think that we all have a responsibility to put good energy into the world. We all have a responsibility to be kind to each other. And if I can use the gifts that I have to lift people out of their troubles, then I’ve done my job.

How does it feel to be such a big part of the Fragrance Foundation’s mission to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance?

I think that Linda is very visionary. She realizes that in order to move the fragrance industry forward, we need to tell stories and bring more art forms into the fragrance world. It’s a huge thing to help people understand that there’s a true art form here, and to celebrate and share information and educate the consumer. I feel so honored to be a part of it.

Feb

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER
Spotlight

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER

IT’S PERSONAL: UP CLOSE WITH LEONARD A. LAUDER

What makes a legend? In Leonard A. Lauder’s case, it’s been generosity, curiosity, and of course, genius business acumen. Working alongside his self-made woman of a mother, the indomitable Estée Lauder, and ultimately taking the reins of the biggest beauty corporation on the planet as CEO from 1982 to 1999, Leonard Lauder has always innately understood that good business begins with good relationships. Since joining Estée Lauder in 1958, he has expanded the definition of a family business to include all of those who work for, and with, the brand—supporting the success of others, and forging lifelong friendships with colleagues, beauty advisors, and fragrance suppliers along the way.

Here, the legendary executive, philanthropist, and art collector sits down with Accords to reflect on his journey at the helm of the cosmetics giant. In the first of a three-part conversation, he looks back on his mother’s game-changing, history-making impact on the fragrance industry as we know it. 

What is your first scent memory?

Well, Youth Dew was launched in 1953. It was my mother’s favorite and it attracted a huge following. And what I do remember is that in 1953, I was still at the University of Pennsylvania. I was a junior and I had just gotten a car. It was a brand-new Plymouth, powder blue, and I had a little ceremony where I christened the mud guard with a bottle of Youth Dew, but then wiped it off because I was afraid it would take off the paint. Youth Dew has been with me over these many years. Now, as it turns out, my wife Judy wears it all the time—and when I smell it on her, I smell love.

What did you learn by watching your mother’s approach to beauty when you were growing up?

That you have to love helping people feel beautiful. You have to love people. And you have to never give up.  She was persistent, and she kept on selling, selling, selling. She truly felt fragrance. She could see it.

What did Estée teach you about the fragrance business?

Again, never give up. I remember, when I first joined the company, I shared a tiny office with her, and I heard her on the phone with a man from van Ameringen, which was the predecessor to IFF. She wanted to have a Youth Dew spray, and the salesman said to her, “Estée, I’m not going to sell you this, because it’s too strong and women don’t like to smell strong.” She said, “I’ll buy it somewhere else,” and hung up. 15 minutes later, guess what? The phone rang. “Okay, we’ll sell it to you.”  It’s about believing in what you believe in, and sticking to your guns.

What do you think Estée understood about women and what they want from fragrance that others did not?

Well, like I said, she loved to make women feel beautiful. Leo Lerman, who was the editor of US Vanity Fair after it launched, was a fellow student of my mother at Newtown High School, and he remembered that she used to love making up her friends and combing their hair. You have to love beauty, and you have to love women, and she did. Which is one of the reasons why Estée Lauder has always been a company that believes in women, as customers and as employees.

There’s so much about Youth Dew that’s legendary—from its introduction as a bath oil to the moment Estée dropped it on the department store floor to draw attention to it to the character of the scent itself. What, in your opinion, was most key in Youth Dew becoming a sensation?

A few things. First of all, it smelled great and it lasted forever. And number two, the techniques of selling it were great. We sampled it and sampled it and sampled it. And when we were tired of doing that, we sampled it some more. I had just started at the company and I was in a little tiny office and I received a cosmetics buyer from Neiman Marcus. He said, “You know, every time we sample your Youth Dew bath oil, people buy it.” So I took all the money we had, which was very little, and bought something like 50,000 samples. We gave it out, and the rest is history. If the product is good, sample it.

There’s a great story about my mother. She got into a taxi to go to the Plaza Hotel for lunch and in those days, taxis didn’t have a screen between the driver and the passengers. So, the man behind the wheel said, “Mmm, you smell wonderful. I think you’re wearing Estée Lauder. All my fashionable passengers wear that.” And as my mother got out of the taxi, she said, “You know, I’m Estée Lauder.” He said, “Yeah, and I’m Cary Grant.”

What perspectives did your father bring to the fragrance side of the business?

He was always the one who helped maintain the quality, and he and my mother were partners. Basically, she was the chief creative officer and he was the chief operating officer. That’s how it worked. He was the calming influence, and he was great at that.

What were Evelyn’s insights on fragrance and why were they so important?

Evelyn had the same skills as my mother did. She dreamt fragrance and she could see fragrance. And when my mother was getting older, she called Evelyn up and said, ” Evy, I’m working on my new fragrance. Can you help me finish it?” And Evelyn went in and spent a lot of time on it, and that became Beautiful.  

When you say that they could see it, what do you mean?

I can’t explain it. My mother said, “I can see fragrance” and Evelyn said the same thing. I took them at their word.

Didn’t your mother also invent the idea of the fragrance wardrobe?

Well, as time went on, we had children. I don’t mean actual children, I mean more fragrances. We had Estée and Aliage and White Linen and so on until we had 10 or 12 fragrances. We used to do a huge business at Christmas time with a package of mini versions of all of them, called Small Wonders. But the idea for our fragrance wardrobe came from Mrs. Estée Lauder, my mother. She said, “You have to wear something different at night than what you wear during the day.” Simple, right? She was the first person to say that.

Dec

THE TREND PREDICTOR: WENDY LIEBMANN

THE TREND PREDICTOR: WENDY LIEBMANN
Spotlight

THE TREND PREDICTOR: WENDY LIEBMANN

THE TREND PREDICTOR: WENDY LIEBMANN

Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail

Wendy Liebmann knows what you’re going to buy before you do. She also knows why, and where you’re going to shop for it. The Australian-born founder of WSL Strategic Retail has been conducting research and reading the tea leaves about consumer habits for more than two decades, helping companies across beauty, fragrance, food, and fashion build retail strategies by staying connected to the desires and priorities of the customers navigating the shop floor. “We observe shoppers everywhere from the subway to some mountain in Peru,” she says. “We look at things and ask, ‘What is happening? Why is it happening? How can we ground that in data? What’s the insight? What does it mean about the future?’” The answers are often surprising, and always invaluable. Here, Liebmann talks to ACCORDS about the state of retail today, and shares her thoughts on how the fragrance industry can capture more consumers as we head into 2020. 

How does WSL work to create shopper-led retail experiences?

We help our clients, who are both manufacturers and retailers, stay focused on what shoppers are doing and thinking and how that will impact their purchasing behavior. We know how people want to consume a product, but when it comes to how they want to buy and where they want to buy, that’s something that companies can get stuck in their own heads about. We help them anticipate where shoppers are headed. Our focus has always been on understanding the economic, political, social, and technological factors that are impacting how people are living their lives, and how that impacts how they choose to spend money on goods and services, and ultimately on specific categories and products.

We do a lot of our own primary research, under the banner of How America Shops. The first study we did was almost 30 years ago, and it was really based on our curiosity about changes in where people were shopping. They were shopping high and low, mass and prestige, and it was weird in those days. Why did somebody who shopped at Saks also shop at Walmart? Now, because we’ve been tracking consumer behavior for so long, we can help our clients see how things have shifted, and then help them determine where the shopper is headed, so they can build a relevant retail experience, whether that’s physical or digital.

What are some of the larger trends that you’ve seen coming before anyone else?

One of the most impactful is the shift we saw coming back in 2015 or 2016 from acquiring things to what we call buying happiness. It was the moment we saw how the notion of the American Dream, which had been grounded in acquisition—I want my own home, I want my own car—move into this very emotionally-driven set of values, and that evolved somewhat out of the recession. That’s when people started to talk about things like well-being and less stress and financial stability in ways that were highly emotive. It’s really changed everything, and driven the whole trend towards health and wellness.

Now, the big trend that we have been tracking with our clients has been all about time. That has become a foundational shift in everything you deliver, whether it’s products like fragrance, or how you’re presented at retail—people are making choices that are saying, “If it’s not easy for me, I’m not interested.” The idea of “taking stress out of my life” has evolved into “I value my time.” That’s one of the big threads that we see today.

What else are you seeing now that you think points to the future?

What we’re looking at here is this major reset in the shopper’s mindset. Last year, we talked about shoppers trying to wrest control in a world of chaos, and what’s emerged in our recent work is that the shopper is now saying, “I have to take control.” They’re incredibly purposeful about everything they do. It’s grounded in this fundamental trust that people are now thinking through. If you talk about perfect beauty, they turn it on their head and talk about how it’s fine to be imperfect. People are challenging the old truths. They’re thinking about their purpose in life, not their possessions in life. That’s changing the way that brands and retailers need to think about how they do business, because there’s now a very different sense of how we need to engage shoppers.

How would you describe what’s happening in fragrance retail specifically?

The fragrance industry is doing what everybody else in the beauty industry is doing, which is not understanding the magnitude of the change. The good news is that they’ve been fairly level for some time. But to me, the companies, both brand and retailers, need to understand that fragrance has to have a different emotional tenor now. It isn’t only about a designer or celebrity or a gorgeously designed package, it’s about the emotional value of the moments that fragrance creates in our lives and in our memories and in our health and well-being. It’s a massive opportunity that a lot of companies are not responding to.

We talk to younger consumers all the time about their shopping, and they think of fragrance in different ways. They think about fragrance in terms of candles or the lavender spray they put on their pillow. It’s become much more holistic than just a bottle of perfume. I think the good news for the industry at large is business is stable. The bad news for the industry at large is business is stable. Meaning that the value of fragrance as a tool for well-being has not really been captured or taken advantage of yet.

How do you think they should seize that opportunity?

I think stepping back and saying, “How can we talk about fragrance in a different way?” We did some work years ago with a retailer who was trying to create a different focus for their fragrance experience, and we brought all the executives into a strategy session and asked them to talk about a moment in their life where fragrance had an emotional impact. It was such a valuable tool because all of these fragrance executives were able to remember the essence of what a smell does to you. We had people talk about everything from their mother’s kitchen and special meals to the smell of their newborn baby to their wedding day. It was extraordinary. I think these are the levels of engagement that consumers are looking for again. And I think that’s part of the tremendous opportunity here. Look around at who’s doing interesting things—for example, you walk into a hotel like the Westin and it has a fragrance. It’s not just like, “Isn’t this clean?” but rather, “Oh, we must be at the Westin.” That is what consumers of fragrance are looking for today, an emotional resonance and memory that only a wonderful smell can create.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about how people shop for perfume?

On the one hand, the industry at large thinks about fragrance as a browsing experience where somebody wants to come in and immerse themselves. What we’ve come to know is most of that mythology was driven in a time when people had more time, and the retail experience was more relevant for them to come in and wander through. Today, life has become so frenetic that people buy fragrance the same way we see them buy everything. They are in a hurry, and they are so overwhelmed by the choice. Walking into a department store is like walking down the beauty aisle or into the grocery store—it becomes so challenging to pick one or to immerse yourself in one, that people now go on autopilot. Fragrance, which should be an emotional purchase, has become a category, like lots of other categories, where people go, “Can I get it fast?” “Is it easy to understand?” “Am I just replenishing?” “Do I care to spend my valuable time immersing myself in something new? “Celebrity A has talked about it, I’ll just buy it.” We need to break that rhythm. We’ve seen it in categories like specialty food, where the goods are presented through sight and smell and curation. 

What are some examples of the way those other categories have broken the rhythm?

I’m struck by the new Comme des Garçons store in Paris, which I’ve been reading about. The way that store has very selectively chosen the brands that it will carry, which is not only Comme des Garçons but other fragrance brands. Each of the brands are presented in ways that are limited, and each with their own very selective space. I think that allows the voice and message and the story to be clearer to the consumer. Less is more, which is always a challenge in this market because we’re so used to “more is more.” The storytelling needs to be much more differentiated. I think the storytelling now is left outside the physical space and left to social media and Instagrammable messaging. The experience in the store is just to literally pile it on, and I think that’s a big miss.

If you walk into an Eataly, the messaging of what it stands for—that it’s about Italian lifestyle and food—is immediate. It’s also clearly organized by either food type or experience. So you’ve got the fishmonger, and then the prepackaged fish and the place to eat the fish. And, “Okay, now how about some wine while you’re buying your fish?” They’ve created these microcosms of specialty that enable people to immerse themselves in a cultural message, an experience from the highest level down to the very utilitarian question of “What’s for dinner tonight?”

I think that’s why the smaller, independent specialty retailers who are doing fragrance are continuing to grow, because there are people who want that immersive experience that they’re not getting it in a larger retail space like a department store. Sephora turned fragrance on its head two decades ago by saying, “We’re going to make it much more democratic. We’re going to let you shop by alphabetized fragrance.” When they did that, it was novel, and it was approachable. You could test scent without people leaning over you all the time and trying to force something on you. But we haven’t seen that kind of innovation in a long time.

What can digital fragrance retailers be doing beyond sampling?

I think digital has the ability to create emotional visual experiences, and it’s missing out. We can create a virtual reality, like walking through the lavender fields of Provence, but what the industry has done is it has used the online platform more for just replenishment. Or, there’s the fragrance, there’s the model, there’s the bottle, there’s the price, ship it home.  Some fragrance brands have beautiful imagery, but they’re not using the technology to create a mood board that takes me into the visual experience and enables me to understand what the sensory experience is. Those things can be so powerful. It’s like hearing a perfumer talk about how they’ve created something, and you can smell it without actually smelling it.

So the brands that are putting perfumers front and center are doing it right?

That’s the other piece, right? The power of storytelling about the fragrance. I never think it’s about a green note or whatever note. I just like what I like. But that whole proposition about hearing a perfumer talk about a scent, it’s like hearing a great artist talk. Even if it’s just about how they created the fragrance that’s in my laundry detergent. It’s incredibly palpable.

Nov

THE CULTIVATOR: CAROL HAMILTON

THE CULTIVATOR: CAROL HAMILTON
Spotlight

THE CULTIVATOR: CAROL HAMILTON

THE CULTIVATOR: CAROL HAMILTON

Carol Hamilton, Group President of Acquisitions, L’Oréal

On October 30th, the Fragrance Foundation named beauty business icon Carol Hamilton the 20th annual Circle of Champions honoree. Hamilton’s accomplishments and contributions to the fragrance industry cannot be underestimated: She has transformed L’Oréal Paris as a company, not only by making it more successful and more charitable since she joined in 1984, but also by touching the lives of people she has worked with as a mentor and guide. She’s a crusader for women’s rights, a formidable philanthropist, a creative force to be reckoned with—and an extraordinary gardener. Here, she reflects on 35 years at the top of her game.

What does it mean to you to be welcomed into the Circle of Champions?

I’ve been trying to think about exactly how I would define a champion, but I think it’s someone who has made a difference in the world and who has championed ideas and people and causes. I think it means I’ve really pushed for things, and achieved something. I love it.

What have been some of the greatest moments in your career?

The greatest moments always involve people. To hire someone and mentor them, and then see them get promoted up the ranks and achieve their dreams—that’s one of the things that has made me most proud. I would say the other is being able to blend my love of business with finding related purposes that give back to the world. For example, the first philanthropic cause for L’Oréal was to join with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in 1995. That was before we bought Kiehl’s. I joined the Ovarian Cancer Research Board and started doing events, not only to raise money for the fund but also to create advocates of our employees and to have events that made survivors feel more beautiful and loved during their fight. I also got very involved with doctors to understand where the money that L’Oréal raised was being spent, which was tremendously rewarding for me personally and for the company. Over a fourteen-year alliance with them, we became the number one fundraiser on behalf of ovarian cancer research.

Then you went on to expand L’Oreal’s philanthropic work even more.

When I moved to the Luxury Division in 2008 in the depths of the recession, I thought if we just keep looking at the sales numbers, we’re going get really depressed. We needed to use the time more constructively. I asked each of the brands to select a philanthropic cause that was very closely connected to what they stood for. The Giorgio Armani brand, whose number one fragrance was Acqua Di Gio, decided to work with UNICEF and created a program called Acqua for Life, which is now ten years old. We’ve raised 10 million dollars to bring clean water to the most needed countries in the world. With Lancome, we partnered with St. Jude, because the fact that the brand was one that was transmitted from mother to daughter resonated with the importance of family relationships to the way St. Jude treats childhood cancer. I believe if you can couple the power of a brand and the passion of its employees with a cause, you not only give back but you make a much more purposeful brand, and that’s what consumers are looking for.

How did you get started with gender equality work?

I’ve always been a big champion for women, but in about 2013 it dawned on me that maybe I should understand gender equality more from a fact-based point of view and really study it, rather than just be the victim of a subtle, sometimes-unconscious bias. I found a course at Harvard called Women in Power. It’s a week-long adult course, and it really made me understand that there are true physiological and biological reasons why men and women are different in terms of the way they approach negotiation, networking, everything. It made it much easier for me to tackle conversations that before I had avoided. And last year I became the chair of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard, so I’m responsible for leading the agenda for the next 20 years.

What advice do you give to young women who are just getting started in the industry?

It’s kind of trite because so many people say it, but follow your passion. Also be very serious about learning, and never allow yourself to be typecast because you look or act a certain way or you’re a certain gender. You will be good at what you want to be good at and what you choose to focus on. It’s really about being very strong and committed and not letting one-off situations derail you.

How did you find the transition into the Luxury Division after having worked with mass brands for so long?

I loved it. Now, it was most at the most difficult time. There wasn’t one number on any sales sheet that was positive, not one. And everything was different: especially the relationship with the retailer. I always say the most important word when work in mass is yes. The most important word in luxury is no. It took me a while to get comfortable with that.

You’re now Group President of Acquisitions. What does that entail?

My scope is to find American brands that can be globalized. It’s a job that has made my schedule much more external than my previous schedule used to be. I’m constantly out talking to founders, going to summits, going to forums and really just trying to spend as much time as I can either understanding the market and brands. And then of course, internally, I’m working with each of the divisions to understand what brands really fill the gaps in their strategy. It’s a very broad, all-encompassing role that is very exciting for me at this stage in my life and career.

What is your personal connection to fragrance?

It’s funny, I didn’t wear fragrance growing up, and my mother didn’t wear fragrance either. And because I grew up in my career in mass, where fragrances are not an important category, I did not have to study them or become an expert in them. I was much more of an expert in what I call the color categories, makeup and hair color. And then my second categories were skin care and hair care. So, when I joined Luxury, all of the sudden I had this portfolio of fragrances and I must admit that I was a bit nervous. It seemed very foreign to me. But Leslie Marino who was running our fragrances at the time came to my office and said, “What’s your favorite fragrance? I want to group our fragrances around and give you the ones that you will want to wear.” I had to admit in a very low voice, “I don’t wear fragrance. You’re going to have to help me.” I decided to choose one fragrance as my signature scent to really help me focus and understand the category. I chose Flowerbomb because I loved the fact that it was all about female empowerment. It wasn’t about the man or the girl trying to get the guy and vice versa. It was just this iconic visual of a powerful woman that was so beautiful. And I loved the designers, Victor and Rolf, who I found very interesting in kind of an exotic way. I also realized that I had a connection to fragrance in my garden.

I’ve heard you have a very special garden. How did you make that connection?

I do. We have a house in Litchfield, Connecticut that was designed and built by Marcel Breuer, the Bauhaus architect, in the early 70s. Breuer really celebrated nature and built his homes so that you could experience that. I spend all of my free time, from April to October, tending to my garden. It’s what I love the most. It’s the colors and the shapes, but also the scents. And I realized that I do love fragrance, I just wasn’t wearing fragrance. I started to use my garden as inspiration for my fragrance journey, and I realized that in retrospect that’s why I chose Flowerbomb.

Do you find gardening to be calming?

It totally stimulates me, especially my creative side. But it totally relaxes me at the same time. The only problem with it is that my wine consumption goes up extraordinarily high in the summer because I can’t garden without a glass of wine.

Is Flowerbomb still your favorite fragrance?

I still love it. I also love Giorgio Armani Si, and I really love Atelier Cologne. Especially Orange Sanguine, which is their number one.. I like Beach Walk of Margiela, because I grew up in California on the ocean.

What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in the fragrance business?

I think the recognition that there is a place for clean, lighter fragrances. Especially with the American market growing, there is a difference between the very beautiful, historical French approach to fragrance and the way Americans are looking at really just having it as a lifestyle statement.

What do you foresee happening in the future?

I think that it’s going to continue to become very much a part of our lifestyle. Fragrances are going to become a bigger part of the wellbeing movement, in terms of being something that can alter our moods in a positive way. I think fragrance will be thought of more in terms of emotions than sexuality.

Oct

THE ARTIST: MATHILDE LAURENT

THE ARTIST: MATHILDE LAURENT
Spotlight

THE ARTIST: MATHILDE LAURENT

THE ARTIST: MATHILDE LAURENT

Mathilde Laurent is a true trailblazer—not only is her work consistently stunningly original, but as house perfumer for Cartier since 2005, she has also been a beacon of inspiration for aspiring female perfumers. A born and bred Parisian, Laurent is an advocate for—and living embodiment of—creative freedom: She has established her lab and office within the walls of the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, and is always looking for ways to communicate the true artistic potential of fragrance with the rest of the world. One of her most dazzling achievements to date was dreaming up a perfumed cloud, which she created in collaboration with climate engineers Transsolar, and first exhibited in Paris in 2017. On October 30th, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will unveil Laurent’s latest USO—Unidentified Scented Object—enabling museum-goers to once again immerse themselves in a floating cloud of scent. 

What inspired the perfumed clouds? 

It started with my perfume L’Envol, which was launched in 2016. The inspiration for that perfume was mead, ambrosia, the drink of gods. It immediately launched me in the clouds, because the gods are meant to live in the sky above the clouds, and when you drink mead you are said to be near them. Also the historic function of perfume was to link humans on earth and the gods in the sky. So when doing my research around L’Envol, I was always thinking of elevating one’s mind and spirit towards the sky. That’s how he original concept came about.

And then how did you make it happen?

I always try to help people who are smelling my perfumes understand them, not only from an olfactive standpoint but from an intellectual standpoint. So we were searching for something that would show the idea of L’Envol and give people an experience. This is how we started to talk about a perfumed cloud that smelled of L’Envol. We did some research and we heard about the work of Transsolar, so we contacted them, and that was the start of the adventure.

The cloud in Abu Dhabi will be at the Louvre. Do. You consider it a work of art?

When the cloud was presented in the Contemporary Art Fair in Paris, it took on an artistic dimension that I love because even if I don’t consider myself as a contemporary artist, I want to show that perfume is not just a product, a consumer good. I want to show that perfume is poetry, perfume is art, perfume is sensation, perfume is speaking of who we are and how we live. This is why I’m so glad to put it in Abu Dhabi. I think it also has such a great thing to say about where perfume is going nowadays. 

And where do you think that is?

I have always thought that perfumery shouldn’t be only industrial. I have always felt like there is a lack of consideration of the artistic aspect of perfumery. And there is also a lack of contemporary olfactory artists and we must help that exist, because that would make everyone so much happier. If there is more variety, more ways to wear and use and understand perfume, we will all be happy.

Your working space is within an art gallery. Why is it important to you to be near art?

It’s more than important, in fact. Being in Fondation Cartier gives me a relationship to art, and also an opportunity to meet artists, philosophers, and writers  – people who are very diverse and at the highest level of expertise. It’s a very lively, very sparkling environment. It gives me so many joys and so many ideas and so many friends.

You’ve talked about the idea of this kind of olfactory shock. How do you go about kind of having an element of surprise in your creations?

I think that I always pay a tribute to Mr. Edmond Roudnitska. He’s the first one who said, “A good perfume is the one that gives you a shock.” I want to follow that path and to make it feel alive. I think that it’s like love at first sight. Love at first sight is not something quiet. It’s something that makes your heart beat very fast and strong and it’s something which is violent but sweet, in fact. And I think perfume is the same. If you meet a perfume and it doesn’t make an impression, it will not become the perfume of your life. Very often, the perfume of your life is the one that you are just amazed or just sometimes disturbed by. You are just surprised, you are not used to the smell. This is why I have the strong belief that perfume can bring something to your life—it can create passion, desire, satisfaction. 

You’ve connected fragrance and food, drink, jewelry, and more. What are some of the ways that you think about these interconnections?

I think it’s just my brain, which is always putting things in the same box and agitating the box. In my everyday job at Cartier, we very often speak of the house, speak of the gems, speak of the history of jewelry, history of perfumery. But in fact I think it’s because my brain is rather kinesthetic. It’s a kind of game for me when I hear someone speaking of his job, or his passion. I inadvertently know what matches with perfumery and what doesn’t. I consider myself as someone who is playing with odors and smells and also nature and psychology.

What do you consider the most elusive, uncapturable scent?

The vibration of life, the vibration of truth, the vibration of living reality, living nature, living flowers, living trees. That’s really my quest in my work. It is to always try to do flowers as fresh as I can so that you nearly feel them living. 

What is your favorite smell in the world?

It’s a conceptual one. It’s the smell of peace. I think it would be wonderful if I could smell it everywhere.

Do you dream in scents?

I love that question. But I don’t have the memory of a scented dream, I must confess.

You are such an inspiring presence as a woman in fragrance. What kind of advice do you share with other women? 

First of all, it’s really important to me to create perfumes which are not an olfactory caricature of femininity – nor a caricature of masculinity. I try to offer flowers for men and woods for women. And to work in notes that are unusual on the market. So that people can choose what they want to wear and not what they are told to wear, I try to offer perfume with a very large and very open-minded vision of femininity.

And I think, nowadays, there are more female perfumers than male perfumers. Or at least it’s even. When I was in school, a long time ago, already there were five times more women than men. And at the moment there are girls paying attention and thinking they can reach the job of perfume designer, but I think it is very funny to see how there are more male perfumers in the media even though they are less numerous now. It is true that until Christine Nagel joined Hermes I was alone as a female in-house perfumer. Now we are two. But in the fragrance companies, there are lots of women. 

How do you want your creations to make people feel when they’re wearing them?

I want them to feel very free. Even free to wear perfume or not. I have just as much consideration for a person who doesn’t wear perfume as for a person who wears my perfume. What I want is to give people freedom to wear any perfume; you don’t have to wear a male perfume because you are male, wear male or female or any other sex because it’s very important to consider that nowadays that we have several sexes, several ways of considering yourself.  What I really want is for people to wear perfume because it gives them a real pleasure, not because it makes them feel clean. It’s really important to go back to thinking of fragrance as something like a jewel, and wearing it like an ornament. 

Sep

GRAND DESIGN: JASON WU

GRAND DESIGN: JASON WU
Spotlight

GRAND DESIGN: JASON WU

GRAND DESIGN: JASON WU

One might think Jason Wu especially charmed, if it weren’t clear how hard he works. The Taiwanese-born designer famously dresses the likes of Michelle Obama—for whom he whipped up the memorably stunning gowns she wore at both of her husband’s Presidential inaugurations—but he actually got his start creating doll clothes for a toy company. His signature aesthetic—ladylike, sophisticated, ultra-chic—also defines the two fragrances that he has so far unveiled for his fashion house, the eponymous Jason Wu and its follow-up Velvet Rouge. ACCORDS stopped by his bustling New York studio just before Fashion Week to talk to the down-to-earth, perfume-loving designer about inspiration, new experiences and old friendships, and how to sniff out a great party.  

Your debut perfume tapped into memories of your childhood in Taiwan. What was the process of creating that fragrance like?

I’ve always really enjoyed scent in every way, so it was a longtime dream of mine to create a fragrance. I grew up in Taiwan, where we had a really big garden, which was quite unusual because it’s mostly just apartment buildings. But my father had a lifelong interest in flowers and plants, and that was a big influence on me. 

I wanted the fragrance to be about the magic of my childhood. Smell is maybe more powerful than anything else when it comes to conjuring up memories, and I really just started in a very organic way. I sat down with Frank Voelkl, the perfumer, and we went through a bunch of different ingredients. He didn’t tell me what they were, I just wanted to have a pure reaction. And then at one point a smell stopped me in my tracks. It was the jasmine. I hadn’t smelled it in a while, because it’s not really a flower you see in the city, but I immediately remembered why I like it so much. There was a lot of jasmine in the neighborhood I grew up in, and my cousin and I used to go and pick the flowers. That became the centerpiece for the Jason Wu fragrance, which also has pink peppercorn, grapefruit, and lily-of-the-valley. I wanted create something that was light, feminine, and that really represents me and also the brand.

Is it challenging to embody the spirit of your fashion in scent?

I’ve done so many different products throughout my career, from the bathroom faucet I designed in partnership with Brizo to the sofas I recently did with Interior Define.  I always set out to design the life around her, and scent and beauty are very much part of her routine. I want to know where she lives, I want to know what kind of food she likes to eat, I want to know what she smells like, all of those things. It all comes together because it’s a whole lifestyle. 

Do you think of fragrance as an accessory to the clothing in the same way as a piece of jewelry?

Yeah, I think so. Some people have signature pieces of jewelry they wear all the time, and some people are going to have a scent they wear all the time. It’s something that is very subliminal but actually extremely effective. You remember those things, good or bad. Like, ex-boyfriend—bad. There are some things you just can’t smell again. But then there are others… like my mom used to use this lotion, and when I was little I used to jump in the bed with her, so I always remember that smell as a happy one. Things like that can be very deeply ingrained. 

What was the thinking behind Velvet Rouge?

I wanted to create a naughtier sister. The first Jason Wu fragrance was really clear, really transparent and light. And Velvet Rouge is mysterious and a little bit more sensual. Something a bit more of the night. I say most people have two sides, and these are two sides of my olfactory taste that I wanted to express. Velvet Rouge is about rose, cedarwood and incense. 

I grew up around woods. My parents had a lot of old furniture, and sandalwood and cedar are very important in Chinese culture. It’s also in a lot of temples throughout Asia. That became the accessory to the rose because I wanted to counterbalance the richness with something that cuts the sweetness of the floral smell. But what’s interesting is that when I was growing up I didn’t like the smell of incense, sandalwood, or cedar. And now, in my thirties, I love it. 

Do you think it’s partly because it reminds you of that time?

I don’t know, maybe. But sometimes your taste just evolves. I think there’s something inherently sophisticated about woods that I think people grow up to appreciate more. It’s like vegetables.

Why was rose a significant choice?

I love rose. When I was designing my fall 2019 collection, the whole collection was inspired by the rose. It’s just such a classic, and there’s something very special about this rose extract—it’s so exquisite. 

Do you have plans for the next scent?

We have a lot more plans. I’m really excited. More sisters are coming! I’m just having a lot of fun. We’re always in development and I have a bunch of samples right now that I’m playing with. Something that is really nice about this is that in two years we have launched two fragrances, which is really quite untraditional for designer brand fragrances, which usually take two, three, four years to do. I think the reason for that is that it’s something that comes from me, very directly. it doesn’t go through a consumer survey, it doesn’t get tested by focus groups. It’s really about what I like.

What are you most inspired by?

I’m always inspired by the women around me, the people I dress. I’ve been very lucky to dress amazing women from First Lady Michelle Obama to the Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle, to one of my closest friends, Diane Kruger, to Kate Bosworth—all are women that have continued to inspire me with their own sense of style and what they do. I think ultimately being a man designing women’s wear it’s really important to surround yourself with women.

What else fuels your creativity in your life?

I would say travel, and it doesn’t even have to be international. Like I’m starting my fall concept already and I was here and I didn’t really have any ideas, so I took a taxi downtown to The Strand and I bought a bunch of new books. That was great. I spent like two hours there, getting inspired. So it’s every kind of travel, every kind of scene. As long as I’m just always being exposed to new things, that’s all that matters.

What are some of your favorite places to go, when it is farther afield?

I love Greece. I would love to create a fragrance based on my memories there, because you can’t really go wrong anywhere there, it’s just so beautiful. funny enough I was actually there in May and there was a whole wall of jasmine, so I had to take a picture with it. It’s interesting, those things follow you everywhere, but that’s the Greece edition of jasmine.

Being based in New York, I try to go to warm places. But another place I love to go is Japan. Japan is one of the most beautiful, rich in culture, but also just a culture that really appreciates beauty. It’s in every detail.

What have your experiences been in the fragrance world versus the fashion world?

It’s very different. It’s interesting having been to the Fragrance Foundation Awards for the second time this year—it’s actually quite a different crowd. You think fashion and beauty are so entrenched together, but it is its own machine. Having the chance to meet so many different perfumers, fragrance houses, and also people in the beauty-business side of things has been really interesting for me. It’s been a great learning experience and I hope to continue to learn and meet new people. 

What have been some of your other favorite scents throughout your life?

One of the first scents that I ever encountered was Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel. I have flannel drapes all over my home and my studio, because it came in a little gray flannel pouch which I thought was really cool. That was one of my earliest influences. And then, of course, I grew up with CK1. It was the scent of my teens. 

In terms of ingredients, I love flowers. It’s apparent in my work, it’s apparent in the way we do our shows—it’s always been a very important part. I love the smell of a freshly cut stem. It’s that green, that crisp green. There’s another flower called the osmanthus, an Asian flower I grew up with. I’m looking forward to doing something with that. And I love lime, because it’s very citrusy and bright. I like to cook, so I use lime a lot. 

How would you describe the smell of the best party you have ever been to?

The smell of the best party is always champagne. Always, because that’s maybe the only thing you remember.

Speaking of parties, what did you enjoy most about the Fragrance Foundation Awards this year?

I loved it. Jane Krakowski, I absolutely adore—she’s amazing, funny, talented, engaging, and the best host ever. And of course having the opportunity to meet Linda has been really special. I love the Fragrance Awards because, as I mentioned, it’s a world that I’ve not been a part of for most of my fashion career. Getting to meet so many new people who are pioneers and influencers in the beauty industry is really great. That’s one part of it, and then the other part is that this year I got to present an award, and that was really special, because sharing the stage with Tom Ford, and all the famous perfumers, was very humbling. It was also special to see my friend Laura Slatkin get an award. I did a collaboration, in Spring 2012, with Nest Candles—one of my first scent experiences—and I was fortunate enough to meet Laura then.

How do you like to scent your home?

I have little pieces of palo santo that I light. I have it here in my studio too, it’s always burning somewhere.

Now that you like woods…

Yeah, now that I’m an old lady, yes, I like my woods very much. It’s really all you need. It’s really clean and really fresh.

Do you wear a scent yourself?

I do, right now I’m wearing Super Cedar by Byredo.

More wood!

I know! I like it. But I’m dying to make a fragrance that’s unisex, so I can wear my own. And, that might just be coming… 

Aug

THE EAU ENCYCLOPEDIA: MICHAEL EDWARDS

THE EAU ENCYCLOPEDIA: MICHAEL EDWARDS
Spotlight

THE EAU ENCYCLOPEDIA: MICHAEL EDWARDS

THE EAU ENCYCLOPEDIA: MICHAEL EDWARDS

Michael Edwards, author of the lauded 1996 book Perfume Legends, is something of a perfume legend himself. He’s been called “the perfume expert’s expert”—and yet the impact of his work has reached even those with a mere passing interest in scent. Not only is he the creator of the iconic fragrance wheel, he’s also the mastermind behind Fragrances of the World, an exhaustively comprehensive guide to every imaginable sniff that’s sold, now in its 33rd edition—while his digital database lists more than 30,000 fragrances, which can be cross-referenced by brand, perfumer, ingredients, or bottle designer.

For many, however, it’s Edwards’ scholarly—but wholly engaging—writing about the history of perfumery that’s been his most powerful contribution to the way that we understand and talk about scent. Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances, which chronicled the creation of 45 epoch-defining eaus, has become a coveted cult classic, especially as copies have grown scarce. Happily, he’ll be publishing an updated and expanded edition, Perfume Legends II, in September (with more tricks up his sleeve to follow). Here, the irrepressible raconteur shares the story behind his journey into the world of wonderful smells.

What inspired you to create your first guide to fragrance classification guide?

In the mid-70s, I worked for Halston. Halston was a great brand at that time, and it was just as the fragrance market was starting to take off. Charlie was the pivotal change: Fragrance reflects the times, and suddenly women were making their own money and buying their own fragrances. Before that, perfume had been a gift—but by the end of the 70s women accounted for more fragrance sales than men. I was in Paris at that stage, and I had watched the evolution of New World wines, and the way that they had been classified in order to explain them to customers. It wasn’t a new idea, but I thought it might be interesting to apply that idea to perfumes in order to help the customer figure out what she might like.

After I left Halston in the early 80s, I started up as a retail specialist. And our problem in retail is simple: People think that they can only smell three or four perfumes before their nose gets tired. So it’s important to choose the right ones for them to smell. I thought maybe fragrance families could be the key, because if you ask people for the names of their favorite three perfumes, almost invariably at least two will fall into the same family. We don’t know why this is, we just know it’s true. That’s why, in 1984, I started my first guide. It was tiny, and really just a manual for the training I did, to be used in store. I’d ask you to tell me the perfumes you like, I’d look them up in the back, and I would give you suggestions. Remember, there were only 29 new fragrances in 1984; so it was easier than today. In 1991, Nordstrom asked me to expand the guide, and it grew from there.

What led to the publication of the Perfume Legends in 1996?

I’d always been fascinated with the stories of how perfumes came about. There were so many myths, some of which didn’t ring true. And in the early 1990s, perfumers were invisible. There were books by artists, musicians, sculptors, but nothing by perfumers. And when I came up with the idea to tell their stories, I had the luck to interest two masters. One was Guy Robert, who was at that time President of the French Society of Perfumers. He became a very close friend, my mentor, and for the last 10 years of his life, the technical consultant for my Fragrances of the World guidebook. The other was Edmond Roudnitska, the great perfumer, who did relatively few fragrances but a number of them were masterpieces that changed the architecture of perfumery—Diorella, Diorissimo, Eau Sauvage. The problem was that when I started on the book, he was already a very elderly man in his 80’s. He had a reputation of being a very grumpy old man, so I didn’t expect anything when I wrote to him. To my surprise, he agreed to receive me. I thought I’d be lucky to get 10, 15 minutes. But in the first of our interviews, he spent almost three hours.

Those two opened doors for me, and in the end, I spoke with just under 160 people, from great perfumers to bottle designers to the heads of houses. I ended up including 45 fragrances in the book, starting with Jicky in 1889 and going right way through to Angel in 1992. The book came out quietly and then over time it turned into a cult.

What do you think made it resonate with people?

Many people write about perfumes, but they write from their viewpoint. I didn’t. I was trying to find history, so I wrote it through the eyes of the creators. I’ve always had the belief that if we don’t understand how things started, then how can we interpret where we’re going today? The nicest compliments I ever get are when younger perfumers come up and say, “I want to shake your hand. Your book made me want to be a perfumer.”

Why did you decide to update the book now?

I’ve been asked again and again to do an update. I got sidetracked by the sheer explosion of fragrances. Last year we tracked nearly 3,000 new perfumes. But I finally carved out the side time to do the interviews. The book is quite extensively changed. For Chanel No 5, I’ve rewritten an entire chapter, because over the past 22 years there’s been a lot of new research.

You’ve also added eight new scents. What fragrances made the cut?

I’ve included Fracas, Germaine Cellier’s fantastic tuberose. Feminité du Bois, with that unbelievable woody note. Flower by Kenzo, created by the genius Alberto Morillas. J’Adore, Coco Mademoiselle, Timbuktu, Guerlain’s 1979 Nahema. And then lastly, Portrait of a lady, Dominique Ropion’s masterpiece for Frederic Malle.

Were there others that you very much wanted to include?

Lancome’s La Vie est Belle. But I believe that you have to give a legend time. There are three criteria to make a legend: number one is an accord so innovative that other people copy it. Number two, an impact, so profound it creates a trend. And number three an appeal that is likely to endure. So I felt it was a bit too soon for that one.

There’s also been talk of an American Perfume Legends project. Where are you with that?

I’ve been talking about it for so long. But I’m well on the way. I’ve identified 42 legends, starting with Elizabeth Arden’s Bluegrass from 1934. It was the first international success, and I don’t think I can write about American perfumes without writing about the people who made it happen—Arden, Estée Lauder, Charles Revson, Calvin Klein. You’ll see Youth Dew, White Shoulders, Charlie, of course, as well as men’s fragrances, for the first time. I’ve completed the drafts for 31 of them, and I’ve got about another 18 months to work on it before I’m finished. After that, I should retire… don’t you think?

Jul

THE EDUCATOR: FRANCIS HEMBERT

THE EDUCATOR: FRANCIS HEMBERT
Spotlight

THE EDUCATOR: FRANCIS HEMBERT

THE EDUCATOR: FRANCIS HEMBERT

Fragrance education is critical for everyone—not only for the consumer, but for those inside the industry as well. That’s where Cinquieme Sens (French for “the fifth sense,” or sense of smell), comes in. The venerable school was founded in 1976 by Monique Schlienger, a former perfumer at Robertet and a teacher at ISIPCA in Versailles. Monique saw a need for a curriculum that would enrich the knowledge of all fragrance professionals, whether they are selling, marketing, or creating scent. More than 40 years later, guided by Francis Hembert, a former Firmenich senior executive who is now partner and president of the US affiliate in charge of international business development, Cinquieme Sens continues to lead the charge in teaching perfume pros how to contextualize and speak eloquently about the artistry and power of scent. In the US, Cinquieme Sens classes are offered in partnership with the Fragrance Foundation to its members and non-members, and its global reach is expansive, with programs in Mexico, South America, Singapore, Dubai, Mumbai, Seoul, Melbourne, and soon, Shanghai. “We want to be the educational partner of the key perfumery players in every region,” says Hembert. “And the need is stronger than ever in our increasingly complex fragrance world.” After all, the more we know, the better we can engage with each other and with consumers.

What are the specific Cinquieme Sens courses offered through the Fragrance Foundation in New York?
Since 2017, Cinquieme Sens has joined The Fragrance Foundation as their official partner for in-person perfumery training in targeting a wide range of professionals: Brand Development, Brand Marketing, Sales and Technical teams for Brands, Fragrance Houses, and Retailers. We have partnered with industry experts Kathryn Balcerski and Tami Katz of Serendipitee NYC, who are both former senior executives from fragrance creation companies, to deliver these programs to TFF members and non-members. They know fragrance from the inside out: everything about fragrance development and sales, but also about the products, the ingredients, where raw materials are harvested, and what types of extractions are used. We offer: The Techniques and Language of Perfumery; the Fragrance Development Program, and the Fragrance Sales Program. We also develop tailor-made programs for customers, depending on their objectives and needs, taking into account their budget and time constraints.

What are the key elements of each Cinquieme Sens class?
In the Techniques and Language of Perfumery Program, we introduce perfumery culture starting with history, then focus on olfactive knowledge of the key ingredients (naturals, molecules) and facets as well as their emotional impact in the fragrance creation. We also explain the sense of smell and its connection to memory and emotion, and how to leverage that to speak about perfumes. In the Fragrance Development Program, the focus is on the challenges a development team has to face (in fragrance houses and in perfumery makers) from the conceptualization of a fragrance to its finalization, and the important steps to evaluate fragrances. In the Fragrance Sales program, the main objective is to give the keys to switch from an analytical language (olfactive description) to an emotional language, as emotions drive the connection with consumers and lead to more effective sales.

Those are hard things to teach! Do Kathryn and Tami have a unique approach?
All classes are interactive. There are visual and olfactory elements to the courses. The tools include a workbook and ‘Olfactoriums’, which are miniature versions of a perfumer’s palette. Each Olfactorium is comprised of 48 vials of different scents which include raw materials, accords and perfumes specific to each training session.

What do you think is most important for the students to take away at the end?
Language is key in perfumery… The challenge is to identify what you are smelling and communicate it using the language skills we teach. It can be difficult to find that confidence, because fragrance description is so subjective—but like I said, the way to make a scent come alive is through emotion.

In addition to Retail Sales Associates, professionals working as account managers, or in marketing or development teams, or even in technical departments have to understand how fragrance is made. But they also need to learn how to speak about fragrance, to convey what they smell, or want to smell, and make that understandable for perfumers, for colleagues, and for consumers.

What has been the most rewarding feedback you’ve received from students?
When they come back and say that their Cinquieme Sens training has helped build their expertise and effectiveness in their careers!

For more information or to book these courses, please contact Mary Pelzer at the Fragrance Foundation at mary@fragrance.org.

Jun

Hall of Fame: Tom Ford

Hall of Fame: Tom Ford Portrait Courtesy of Tom Ford Beauty
Spotlight

Hall of Fame: Tom Ford

Hall of Fame: Tom Ford Portrait Courtesy of Tom Ford Beauty

If ever a man needed no introduction, it would be Tom Ford. The Texas-born, New Mexico-raised fashion titan has transformed what the world wears and what it smells like. His recent appointment as chairman of the CFDA cements his status as national icon and tastemaker par excellence, while the impeccable pedigree of his Tom Ford Beauty and Private Blend scents—which have received several Fragrance Foundation awards worldwide—have made this year’s Fragrance Foundation Hall of Fame an honor both well-deserved and timely. “Everyone in the fragrance community is looking forward to seeing Tom Ford accept this award” says Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy. “When a designer creates a brand and stays true to its DNA, it really shows.”


Ford’s love of fragrance began in childhood, and his first scent memory is of the heady rush of his grandmother’s signature perfume: Estée Lauder Youth Dew. He approaches fragrance cinematically, working with perfumers to create olfactive panoramas— masterfully using the endless nuances of scent to create mood, to amplify seduction, to invite the mind to travel and to dream. “You can live a moment in life with one scent, and you can live the same moment in life with a different scent, and you can have a completely different reaction,” he says. “Scent is one of the things that alters mood, and it’s incredibly important to alter your mood.”


The designer created Tom Ford Beauty in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies Executive Group President, John Demsey and launched in 2006 with the now-iconic Black Orchid—a scent originally positioned for women but adopted by men. This was followed by the introduction of Ford’s premium Private Blend range in 2007 with a selection of 12 scents, many of which remain best-sellers today: Tuscan Leather, Oud Wood, Neroli Portofino and Tobacco Vanille. Similar to the way that Ford had revolutionized fashion when he became creative director of Gucci in 1994 by bringing back sensuality and modernizing notions of decadence, the unveiling of Private Blend was groundbreaking: It shifted the dialogue around what a designer fragrance could be, and raised the bar on could be accomplished within the realm of luxury niche perfume. Tom Ford Private Blend represents creativity without constraints—the palette of exquisite ingredients and the storytelling behind each scent makes them compelling not for connoisseurs, but also inspires the fragrance-curious to explore, to begin to learn the language.


“The 1990s were all about minimalism,” Ford says. “All the architecture was pared down, everything was empty, and clothing was that way, too. Fragrances became watery and bottles were transparent. Now there’s a rediscovery of things that are more complex. I’m much more baroque in my tastes.”


Tom Ford worked closely with now retired senior vice president Karyn Khoury for over a decade and has partnered with many masters of their craft, including Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Calice Becker, Shyamala and Antoine Maisondieu, Sonia Constant, Nathalie Cetto and David Apel. “I feel fortunate that the perfumers that I have worked with are among the best in the business,” Ford says. “They are the best at what they do, and I feel honored to work with them. I take every opportunity to learn what I can from them in terms of quality of ingredients or in terms of inspiration to make people dream.”


Ford has always remained adamant that his fragrances defy preconceived notions of gender, playfully flouting and rejecting the definition of his-or-hers—whether his scent collections are inspired by the rarest oud, musk, or roses, they are meant to subvert stereotypes. “I love how classically feminine ingredients, like florals, can be blended to have a masculine appeal,” he says. “For example, Neroli Portofino balances floral notes with citrus notes and amber undertones to give it more depth and texture. The Private Blend customer doesn’t necessarily care if it is labeled as masculine or feminine. They want something that is precious and unique.”


Ford rocked the industry yet again in 2017 with the launch of Fucking Fabulous, a trailblazing—and slightly shocking—lush hit of bitter almond, orris, leather, tonka bean and clary sage that sold out in a single day and is to this day the top Private Blend launch.


“I think fragrance might be more important than clothes,” Ford has said. “Because, like music or food, scent is a very direct sensory stimulant. It provokes the senses, it brings up emotion and memory and feeling.”

May

RELEVANT RETAIL: KATE OLDHAM

RELEVANT RETAIL: KATE OLDHAM
Spotlight

RELEVANT RETAIL: KATE OLDHAM

RELEVANT RETAIL: KATE OLDHAM

In the more than 20 years that she has spent at Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Oldham, the senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty, jewelry, and home, has proven to be a groundbreaker, a brand-builder, and a visionary. Since she began working with fragrances in 2002 she has revolutionized the category, and established Saks as a major player by being one of the first to recognize and celebrate the niche fragrance phenomenon. Throughout it all she’s kept her eye on the changing desires of the customer and has come up with endlessly creative ways to meet them—including the revelatory new beauty floor at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship, which opened to much acclaim last spring. Here, the Fragrance Foundation 2018 Circle of Champions honoree shares some of her peerless, and ever-enthusiastic, retail insight.

How does Saks keep retail relevant?
We challenge ourselves to look at what we’re doing every day and see how we can do things differently with the customer in mind. Our ultimate goal is not to change for change’s sake, but to change for the customer’s sake. I think to stay relevant in retail is to engage with the customer in the way they want to be engaged with, which could be moving from communicating by phone to communicating by email to communicating by text if that’s what they prefer. It’s about making a meaningful connection and never ignoring what the consumer is looking for. As consumers ourselves, we know that we’re looking for advice. We’re looking for people to think about what we need to make our lives complete. Even now, after years and years of working in the beauty industry, when I go into stores and get a makeover, I always ask what I need. Women want to know what they are missing because they’re not the experts. And I think that’s how Saks stays relevant: by being able to tell a customer what’s going to keep them up to date and also what’s going to make them feel good.

How do you do that in fragrance, specifically?
A lot of different ways. One is that we train our associates to be experts on their brand and in the beauty space and to be able to give educated information to the customer. So if a customer is looking for new fragrance and they say, “I don’t want to smell like everybody else,” they’ll show them smaller niche brands, or show them things that might be polarizing to some people. We also have fragrance founders come in and give talks on where their inspiration came from. That gives consumers a deep connection with the brand, which I think is really different than the way that customers used to shop. Now they want to know who designed something, and what their beliefs are. Are they somebody who thinks about the world in a bigger way? I think those are the stories that the customers relate to, and of course influencers matter. They talk about why something makes a connection for them. And all this connectivity is vitally important in retail today.

The beauty floor at Saks Fifth Avenue was revolutionary. How has it resonated with customers and within the industry?
Most people embrace it fully. Before, you were sitting in the middle of a very busy, highly trafficked floor getting your makeup done. And we said, “we can do better for our customer.”  Moving upstairs was a bold move. But we felt like we could truly give people a reason to come up. For fragrances in particular we had niche brands that weren’t everywhere, and we were one of the first to really give a dedicated space to fragrances, and then to customize the fragrance area so that they were grouped together by their personality rather than by the advertising persona they created. So when we moved upstairs, we wanted to make sure that we continued to be leaders in that. The customers can now sort of meander through all the fragrances, and then discover them in new ways with a specialist who can really take them on a journey. We also put the fragrances by the window where the light comes in. It makes everything sparkle.

How has the world of fragrance changed, from the standpoint of scents and brands? How has the presentation to the customer changed?
The industry used to be a top down approach, whereas we’re doing a bottom up approach: We get to know the customer, and we stay connected to them and let them know when they need something new. But we did this slowly. We brought in Bond No. 9 in 2002 and we clienteled to the customer, so  they would buy one fragrance and then we would send them three more fragrance suggestions, so we would build the customer’s fragrance wardrobe up. We also brought in one brand at a time, and getting them fully developed before we brought another brand into the store.

You’re perceived as a nurturer of brands. What does that entail?
You don’t open the door and turn on the light and have a booming business. It’s one store, one customer, one brand at a time. If I believe in the brand, I’m in it for the long haul. And as a team we really believe that if we get brands that we believe in and we know who the customers are and we look for ways to develop that customer and that fragrance, then it will continue to grow over the years into a really prosperous and vibrant business. We don’t just think it’s going to happen in five minutes. But the world has changed and so has the speed in which the expectations are set. Before, a brand would come it, whether it was a treatment brand, a color brand or a fragrance brand, and you would expect it to take maybe two or three years to grow a really solid foundation. Now, because of the influencer world and the social media world, the expectation is that you should come in and grow double digits every year. So we’ve started to roll out brands faster and in more doors, and that’s been successful. I still don’t believe in bringing in hundreds of brands a year, I prefer being patient. But I also always want to be on the forefront of the curve.

What do you think makes a fragrance brand successful?
The authenticity of the brand. It’s that they have thought about who they are, where they want to be in the fragrance world, what they want to represent and why. And really sticking to it. I can name hundreds of them. Ex Nihilo, Bond, Creed, Kilian, Jo Malone, all of those brands know who they are. And they want to bring something to the customer that hasn’t been seen before. I love that. I think this is why fragrance is so interesting right now because people are not creating a story around a fragrance, they’re creating a fragrance, and that becomes the story.

As someone who loves to travel, do you also love to check out other department stores when you’re off the clock?
When my son was little, he used to say to me, “Oh please mom, don’t make me go into another store when we’re on vacation,” but I can’t stop myself. It’s exciting to see what other stores do, and I’m always inspired by their thinking. London department stores are different from department stores in Paris or in Tokyo or in Italy. I’d be a fool not to look at every single thing when I travel. It’s really fun.

Do you collect fragrances yourself at home?
I have a lot of fragrances, as you can imagine, but I don’t collect them per say. I have a lot and I love them all. It’s an interesting thing, I love the bottles so I always have several on my dresser. I don’t always wear them—but I love the way they look.

What does your involvement with the Fragrance Foundation mean to you?
I am so proud to be part of the Board of Directors at the Fragrance Foundation. I get to see the passion Linda and the board really have and how they are always thinking of ways to improve the fragrance business, both for retailers and brands.  



Apr

THE PIONEER: ANN GOTTLIEB

THE PIONEER: ANN GOTTLIEB
Spotlight

THE PIONEER: ANN GOTTLIEB

THE PIONEER: ANN GOTTLIEB

Industry icon Ann Gottlieb, the Fragrance Foundation’s 2018 Hall of Fame honoree, has forged a career as a true pioneer in the perfume industry—not only because she invented her own unique business as a fragrance developer, but because she was one of the first women to blaze such an impactful path. Now she’s committed to paying it forward and helping guide more women to leadership positions in the world of scent. Last month, Gottlieb moderated the Fragrance Foundation’s Women in Fragrance Panel, where she was joined by Emily Bond, head of the North America Fine Fragrance Division at Givaudan, Veronique Ferval, Global VP of Fine Fragrance Creation at Symrise, Ana Paula Mendonca, VP Regional General Manager for North America Consumer Fragrance at IFF, and Dara Quinlan, VP of Fine Fragrance Development at Firmenich, for lively discussion about the unique challenges they all faced on their ascent, and ways they can open the door for future generations. Here, the woman who started in an entry level job at Estée Lauder and went on to launch such mega-hits as Calvin Klein Obsession and Dior J’Adore shares some of her own stories as well as her vision for what lies ahead.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in fragrance?

Fragrance is a specific business model, in that there’s not a lot of departing and joining the business from outside industries. There’s also not a lot of movement at the top levels, so there aren’t many leadership roles coming up. That’s a frustration for everyone, but especially for women. We have to get more women into senior positions. Once it starts, it will grow.

You asked the women on the panel when they knew they had achieved a position of true leadership. What was that moment for you?

One of the reasons this all came about was because of the speech that I made at the Fragrance Foundation awards, when I talked about how long it took me to be able to own my success. When I went to work at Lauder, there was one other working woman there who had children. I was really a maverick—I didn’t know what I was doing, or what the rules were. And I just didn’t grow up in an environment where I believed that I was responsible for my successes, even with all of the wins that my fragrances had. Receiving the award really impacted my view of my relationship with the industry. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t feel that I was worthy, it’s that I always I measured myself against the men who handled business. And in acknowledging the award, I realized that the function I serve is just as important in terms of the success of our industry.

What came up in the panel conversation that surprised you?

Something I applaud and know is right is the importance of doing something that’s out of your comfort zone. You take something on that makes you miserable at first, but once you master it, it becomes a true success. When you see what you can do, it trains you to do more. Everybody agreed how important that was. And each one of the panelists had an experience of that happening in her career.

What was your big leap?

Starting my business and having to be on my own. I had done fine in corporate life, and was comfortable with not being the head of a company. Though I was on an upward trajectory, I never thought that I could do it on my own. But deciding to try it became the biggest moment in my career.

You also talked about how scary it felt to step away from your career and return to it after maternity leave. Do you think everyone has a similar experience?

Yes. Everybody’s scared about that because they don’t know if they’ll have their jobs when they get back. Because I was such a pioneer, I was scared to take time off. I was scared to tell my boss that I had a doctor appointment to take my child for a check-up. I wanted to be seen as somebody for whom having children did not impact my ability to do my job.

I’m hoping now that talking about it can help women who are going through this understand that they are not alone. I would love for them to know that this is something we are very aware of and that we, as women who are in leadership positions, are really going to focus on: what we can do to help the women rising through the ranks deal with work-life balance.

What are some of the things you think can be done?

There’s always safety in numbers, so I think that people knowing that there are so many people who have the same issues is helpful in itself. Also, there have to be a lot of tips that women can offer that might help somebody else. I have no idea what kinds of suggestions will come out, but I believe that every woman has her own set of recommendations. No matter what, it has to be positive because it goes from nothing to something. It’s all about keeping the conversation going.

—April Long

Mar

The 2018 Game Changer: Frédéric Malle

The 2018 Game Changer: Frédéric Malle
Spotlight

The 2018 Game Changer: Frédéric Malle

The 2018 Game Changer: Frédéric Malle

It’s no exaggeration to say that The 2018 Fragrance Foundation Game Changer award winner Frédéric Malle has changed the way the world smells. Not only has his house, Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, affected the character of perfumes in general—which, with the birth of the niche category, have become more luxurious and complex since he introduced the concept of high-quality perfumer-led scents 20 years ago—his unique, individualized retail strategy has also revolutionized the way that consumers approach and appreciate fragrance. Here, he ponders the power of dedication and reveals what he’s most looking forward to.

What do you find most challenging in your work?
“It can take about a year, sometimes more, to get a perfume together, and it’s a constant back and forth between judging in a very instinctive way and then going back to a perfumer and talking rationally. It’s an exhausting combination of having to stay almost innocent, and also being very technical. And that grueling one-year effort is ultimately to please people who will judge your work in less than 30 seconds. It takes so much methodical work to create a perfume aimed at touching people’s hearts and instincts instantly. But there is another contrast in scale in perfumery, which is the intimacy of two people working in a lab and the amount of people that a finished perfume can touch. People have stopped me and said, ‘My life is different since I started to wear Portrait of a Lady or Carnal Flower.’ That’s wonderful.”

Why do think it’s so important to take this time for creation?
“Technique is very important—working progressively and rationally and checking each ingredient. The first step is to create a general sketch like a clay model of a sculpture, and then you refine that model slowly but surely. That way, you know each ingredient is in the right proportion. And if you have to do it again, because everything is relative in the formula, you do it again until you have the perfect shape. It’s a mixture of technique and patience. You can’t cut corners. That’s the way I’ve worked since I started perfumery 30 years ago. Every material is reviewed one after the other, until we find the exact balance. The quest is always to turn it into something as perfect as possible without making it boring or too perfect. You can talk to any artist in any field and they will say the same. Not everybody does this long process, but I think what gives depth to a perfume is this quality, even though when you are doing it it’s very tedious. People have a very romantic vision where they think these things are made on a whim or in a simple moment of inspiration. Great perfumes seem obvious, but in fact to appear that obvious you have to suffer through formulas that are very imperfect for a while.”

What do you think gives a great perfume its power?
“When you have a great work of art around you, it feeds you. It elevates you and there an energy that comes out of that piece on your wall—and perfume gives you that, too. It empowers you and also people who cross your path. When you see a painting by Picasso, you might think, ‘oh what a simple brush stroke,’ but in fact there are thousands of hours of drawing behind it, so there is power in the brushstroke, and confidence which speaks very loudly, and makes the painting very powerful. Even though you don’t know about them, those thousands of hours are speaking to you. And I think it’s the same with perfume. Great perfumes, like Portrait of a Lady or Musc Ravageur took thousands of hours that aren’t obvious in a little drop of liquid. But that drop of liquid has encapsulated all that energy that we put in it, and is released into the public, and that’s why these perfumes are so touching. That’s what we try to do, and every perfume is designed to become hopefully classic tomorrow, a little monument of its kind.”

What impact do you think Editions de Parfums has had on the industry?
“When I started out 20 years ago, we had arrived at a point where image was everything and perfume was put to the side. The idea was to put perfume back in the center and put perfumers forward, which is what the Fragrance Foundation is doing now. It’s a funny thing because it was a novel idea then and it was seen as a bit of a revolution, that people were talking about the real authors of perfumes. But for me then it was such justice and such a good story, that I always questioned why no one had done it before. I have this constant quest to tell the truth. And I think the business will in general win if we manage to do that. It’s so important to portray the perfumers and express the fact that they have different styles—like Picasso has a different style than Matisse. It’s talking about ingredients, it’s talking about the way we work, and explaining to people how we smell, and the benefit that scent can give you. We’re trying to do that every day in a humble way.”

What are you excited about for the future?
“There are so many incredible young perfumers. It’s a little bit like in music, where you see young kids playing astonishingly well. A few years ago, I was concerned that the perfumers that I started my business with, who were really the icons of this business, were slowly reaching retirement age. And I didn’t know was next because the following generation had just been given bestsellers and told, ‘give me one like this but more fruity.’ They didn’t really come up with something that started on a white sheet of paper. They worked too fast, and didn’t learn technique. But now there is a very strong generation coming up behind them. You have kids in their twenties who are super, super good. They were ten or sometimes younger when we opened our house, so they grew up smelling things that we made or smelling classics and then they started to work with talented perfumers capable of passing the culture on to them. So the exciting thing I’m doing now is working with this new generation who are having their chance. I think the future is going to be very good.”

—APRIL LONG

Close Bitnami banner
Bitnami