By  on April 20, 2010

DUSSELDORF — Renamed, redefined and refined, Global Art of Perfumes, held here March 26 to 28, tried to set a new standard for the fragrance trade show — or, as organizer Frank Schnitzler would prefer to call it, scent convention.

While the name was new, the event grew out of last year’s Sniffapalooza Fragrance Fair, Germany’s first niche event, which drew more than 1,000 visitors.

The fragrance fair moved from a small, central venue to the scenic Weimar Republic-era Rheinterrasse Hall on the Rhine. It featured big brands like Chanel, Dior, Kenzo, Guerlain and Coty, which all had large, well-appointed stands — some the size of in-store boutiques — in a spacious ornate ballroom. Still, niche brands had their own place in the sun — a window-filled riverside room complete with tranquil seating area. About 100 niche perfumes were unveiled to the German market at Global Art of Perfumes, including a new Arturetto Landi fragrance called al03, due to be launched in fall. There was a combination of workshops and talks on offer, featuring trend researcher Li Edelkoort.

While final figures have yet to be tallied, preliminary data indicate about 500 visitors, including 200 from the public, attended the new iteration of the show. There were more exhibitors, however, 62 at this year’s fair, compared with 40 last year.

Guerlain’s fragrance creation director, Sylvaine Delacourte, gave presentations on her firm’s history to both retailers and consumers at the fair. A Guerlain counter in Düsseldorf is the only place in the country that stocks Guerlain’s exclusive lines. “We’re number one in France,” she claimed, “but that’s not the case in Germany. If you don’t come to people, they don’t come to you.”

Nasife Gauch, founder and general manager of German distributor NPassion, noted she had acquired new customers, including store owners who came from cities several hours away in the very south and east of Germany. NPassion handles niche brands including U.S.-based Ineke and France’s Les Parfums de Rosine. “It’s good for us as exhibitors to meet people, and the visitors have a small but refined selection — they won’t be overwhelmed. It suits the German market,” she said.

German-born, New York-based Ulrich Lang, who presented his latest Ulrich Lang New York men’s fragrance, called Nightscape, agreed. “I think what’s becoming more important in our industry is the actual face time. You need to go the extra distance, you need to do it more and you need to do it more regularly,” he said, adding that the recent closure of Takashimaya’s New York location, which stocked his brand, was another sign that the crisis is not yet over, and that innovation is needed.

Innovation was evident, though, with the introduction of a concept called “Duftkino,” or scent cinema. Created by perfumer and inventor Georg Ortner, the system pipes perfume through a gridded floor in coordination with videos showing fragrance concept campaigns. A sort of sillage synthesizer, it is meant to evoke the trail of fragrance left in the path of a woman wearing her favorite scent. Coty used the device in Düsseldorf for the German launch of the Balenciaga scent, and to present Marc Jacobs’ Daisy and Lola fragrances and Vera Wang’s Princess and Look scents. The machine was the subject of buzz and curiosity throughout Global Art of Perfumes.

The fair was timed to coincide with Beauty International Düsseldorf at the urging of the city, and happened concurrently with Milan’s Esxence niche fragrance fair, whose organizers have said their goal is to eventually host niche fragrance fairs in cities around the world. France’s Lubin and Parfumerie Generale, U.S.-based Keiko Mecheri and Germany-based Linari were among those brands which either raced between the two cities, or split up staff to cover both shows.

Still, overall responses were positive.

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