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An Insider’s Guide to the FiFi’s

From what to drink to who’s wearing what, our definitive guide to this year’s FiFi Awards.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 05/20/2011

From what to drink to who’s wearing what (plus a pop quiz to test your knowledge of the art and science of fragrance), our definitive guide to this year’s FiFi Awards.

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Don Loftus’ Top Five Tips on How to Accept a FiFi

Here, Donald J. Loft us, the Procter & Gamble Prestige leader who also happens to be an accomplished writer, reveals his stage-winning strategies for a witty acceptance speech.

1. Get Up There… Fast!: When your award is announced, get up on that stage as fast as possible. It’s already been a long night. You can kiss everyone you know once you are off the stage.

2. Don’t Act Surprised: No one is buying it. You know you expected to win. We all know you expected to win.

3. Keep It Brief: It’s already been a long night. Don’t thank everyone you’ve ever known by name. Group them together. For example: “Thank you everyone I’ve ever known.” That should cover it.

4. Thank Those Who Will Be Voting Next Time: You should be covered with Step 3, but know that if you miss someone, they will probably vote for someone else the next time.

5. Mention Don Loftus: If you could include me in your list of “thank yous,” I will also vote for you next year.

A Makeup Primer

Melissa Silver is the go-to makeup artist for industry execs like Lynne Greene and Gina Drosos. She’s already booked for the big event, but agreed to share her top tips for award-winning makeup.

● Warm up your complexion, while staying harmonious with the rest of your coloring, so that you don’t look washed out under the stage lights or in pictures. Bronzer is key.
● Eyes are always a focus. False lashes are very important. I use individual clusters as they really emphasize the eyes without looking heavy.
● I’m very big on layering—powder shadow over cream shadow, powder or pencil over cream liner, powder blush over cream blush—anything to give extra staying power.
● Contouring and highlighting the cheeks, nose and jaw really does make a difference, particularly in photos.
● Waterproof mascara is an absolute must. (It holds a curl better, too).
● Don’t forget the body—arms, elbows, hands and legs should be moisturized (nothing high shine), and any little marks discreetly covered.

Fashion Flash

Half the fun of the FiFi’s is seeing who’s wearing what. Here, we asked some of the industry’s most stylish execs for a sneak preview.

1. “I decide at the last minute. I spend my life planning and I need a few moments not to overthink, but to enjoy. I gravitate toward pieces that are chic and light. I want to look my best for the designer I am wearing.” —Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

2.“Inspired by our fragrance nominee, J’Adore L’Or, I’ll be wearing a gold sequin motorcycle jacket that I got at a small boutique in Paris, with a long beige silk skirt by Haute Hippie. All my accessories will be head-to-toe Dior. Shoes, bag and jewels.” —Terry Darland, president, Dior Beauty

3. “I’m wearing Isaac Mizrahi couture. Because the theme is an urban garden, I was looking for something that has a floral feel and Isaac had the dress, very beautiful, simple, tea-length, floral.” —Rochelle Bloom, president, The Fragrance Foundation

4. “Since our fragrance Bang is nominated, I’ll be wearing a Marc Jacobs Collection cocktail dress—black, short, and flouncy with a vibrant and colorful flower accessory from the spring collection.” —Lori Singer, vice president, global marketing, Coty Prestige

5. “I like to think that I’m no stranger to daring, yet classical, fashion choices. This look from Giorgio Armani’s spring 2005 collection is one of my favorites, especially with its bold Chinese scripted black-and-white tiers. Like the FiFi’s, it is glamour and unforgettable.” —Carol Hamilton, president, luxury products division, L’Oréal

6. “For me, there is no other option. Black, always black.” —Christine Dagousset, executive vice president, Chanel Fragrance and Beauté

Easy Access

As the fashion director of Lincoln Center whose responsibilities include overseeing the staging of New York Fashion Week, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff knows the ins and outs of the venue for this year’s FiFi’s, particularly when it comes to easy access. Her drop-off place of choice: 62nd Street at Columbus Avenue or in Jaffe Drive, which dips below street level right in front of the LC campus on Columbus Avenue. In terms of parking, the Lincoln Center Garage, located directly under the campus, is most convenient, she says. Of the three entrances, the one on 62nd between Columbus and Amsterdam is closest to the tent in Damrosch Park.

The Bar Star

Each year, Ann Gottlieb helps create specialty cocktails for the FiFi’s, based on the year’s nominees. Her pick for this year: The Guilty (as in Gucci), made with peach nectar, a touch of fresh raspberry and Champagne. Says Gottlieb, “They go down sooooo easily.”

Pop Quiz: The Smell Test

In 1994, the Fragrance Foundation conducted its first certification program for fragrance sales specialists. What started with 10 participants from a handful of retailers has blossomed into a biannual program, in which 800 to 1,000 people complete rigorous coursework covering the history and science of fragrance, as well as selling techniques, and are given a test at the end. The highest scorer is awarded a coveted FiFi. The cost to take the course is about $150, and those who have completed it found the effort well worth it: Their productivity rises exponentially, with brands and retailers reporting double-digit sales increases in the doors where they have certified sales associates. Wonder how you’d fare on the exam? Here, a sampling of questions covering the main topics.

1. What is the earliest recorded aromatic?
A. Frankincense
B. Galbanum
C. Myrrh
D. Spikenard

2. To “fix” a perfume is to:

A. Add essential oils.
B. Add a characteristic aroma.
C. Equalize the rate of evaporation.
D. Substitute a synthetic ingredient for a natural ingredient.

3. Which of the following statements is true about the middle note of a fragrance?
A. It is made of the most volatile ingredients.
B. It makes a blend of fragrance into a harmonious balance.
C. It is made of underlying tones of fragrance and is responsible for its lasting qualities.
D. It is made of the most long-lasting ingredients.

4. Our sense of smell is most acute between the ages of:
A. 1-12.
B. 13-19.
C. 20-40.
D. 41-60.

5. At what age do most girls begin using fragrance?

A. 8
B. 11
C. 13
D. 15

6. During a woman’s teenage years, what is her primary motivation for wearing fragrance?

A. To define territory.
B. To relieve stress.
C. To attract men.
D. To do the appropriate thing.

7. True or false? Fragrance packaging may have an adverse effect on the success of a fragrance in the marketplace.

A. True
B. False

8. When did the synergy of scent and presentation, including the color and texture of the package, plus the color of the liquid itself, become part of the marketing for most fragrances?

A. In the 17th century.
B. In the 18th century.
C. In the 19th century.
D. In the 20th century.

9. What is the most significant reason that glass remained the container of choice for most perfumeries?
A. Because glass can be made into so many interesting shapes/forms.
B. Because glass can exhibit a wide range of design effects.
C. Because glass retains the integrity of the fragrance composition within the bottle.
D. Because glass-making ingredients are inexpensive and easy to obtain.

10. According to one study, wearing a fragrance for emotional reasons is far greater among women in which age group?
A. Teens and 20s
B. 30s
C. 40s
D. 50s and older

answers: 1-C; 2-C; 3-B; 4-C; 5-B; 6-A; 7-A; 8-D; 9-C; 10-A

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