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BERLIN — It’s spring and scent is in the air at the numerous perfume trade shows around Europe. And now Germany has a fragrance fair to call its own — Sniffapalooza Fragrance Fair. The three-day event, which debuted in Düsseldorf in late March, arose from an unusual alliance among German industry groups and U.S. consumer fragrance aficionado club, Sniffapalooza.
After attending one of the group’s events last year in New York, Annekathrin Koch of public relations firm Pentacom, which has repped Serge Lutens, Garnier and Clé de Peau Beauté in Germany, began thinking about a new way to showcase small brands.
Together with Frank Schnitzler, a longtime consultant in Germany’s beauty industry, and Bernd Kruschka of COSPAR, an association of German perfumeries, Koch quickly hatched plans for the fair.
More than 40 niche brands from Europe and the U.S., such as Keiko Mecheri, Aqaba, Lorenzo Villoresi, Montale and Parfumerie Générale, were on exhibit, with one Japanese and one Moroccan line making the trek.
Also on offer were workshops from sponsor Symrise, Shiseido’s Serge Lutens, Lancôme and Chanel, though the big brands were not featured in the exhibition part of the fair. Visitors and speakers included Swiss perfumers Andy Tauer and Vero Kern; British Paris-based James Heeley; director general at Maesa SA François Duquesne, and New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr.
Unlike most established fairs, the event included a public day for consumers, which was icing on the gâteau for French brand Teo Cabanel. With only a few doors in Germany, Teo Cabanel head Caroline Ilacqua said her line came to the fair to push toward expansion, but was hoping to also build buzz with customers and bloggers.
Miriam Mirani brought her brand Aqaba from New York, looking to rebuild ties with German distributors and revive her presence in what she sees as an “extremely promising market with a lot greater potential right now than other markets. I think Europe is where the focus needs to be until the United States comes out of the recession — period.”
German-born, New York-based Ulrich Lang, presenting his line Anvers, agreed. “America is very depressed right now, so for me it’s an opportunity to look for business outside the U.S. And also, what is the state of niche — I want to see what’s going on. What my colleagues are doing, what the organizers are doing.”
The local take was a little different. From Hamburg, Jürgen Meyknecht brought his religious-kitsch-inspired line Vive Maria, which has two scents and three candles. He described the fair’s atmosphere as a non-competitive meeting of friends, better for morale than monetary gain, “It’s not the fair where you actually would get the nice business deals from. Business you need to do somewhere else.”
Most brand representatives said it was vital they still attend fairs in other cities. Organizer Schnitzler, seemed to indicate his event was of most value to German perfumeries. “There is an incredible fair in Florence, one in Paris….Visiting them costs money and time. It’s easier for people to come here from Munich, Stuttgart or Hamburg — but they want to be able to really see something good, so that they can save the visits to other fairs.”
Over the three days, attendance numbers rose to about 1,000. The organizers have decided to repeat the fair again next year, though it may not retain the Sniffapalooza name.