Unlike other fragrance suppliers, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. never had a master perfumer — until now. And he is Carlos Benaim.
During his more than 45-year career at IFF, he has created a string of landmark fragrances, including the original Polo green by Ralph Lauren, Euphoria and Eternity for Men by Calvin Klein, Herrera for Men by Carolina Herrera, White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, Very Irresistible Givenchy by Givenchy, Prada Amber by Prada, Armani Code for Women by Giorgio Armani and both Flowerbomb and Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf.
“Carlos’ creativity and mastery has been recognized in the industry for many years,” said Nicolas Mirzayantz, group president of fragrances at IFF. “In addition to his extraordinary success in the marketplace and his strong relationships with customers at all levels, Carlos has also coached, mentored and inspired generations of IFF perfumers. Carlos is truly a master perfumer in every way.”
Perhaps the greatest tribute came Monday evening, when Mirzayantz hosted a dinner in Manhattan for about 25 fragrance division employees, most of them fellow perfumers, to pay tribute to Benaim. He had expected to be roasted, but it turned out to be very friendly fire, indeed. Mirzayantz related a story that Pablo Picasso once told about a conversation he had with his mother, who said to him: ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the pope.’
“Instead he was a painter and he became Picasso,” Mirzayantz observed. “The same applies to Carlos. Instead he chose to be a perfumer and became Carlos Benaim.”
The IFF executive went on to praise Benaim for being the first to embrace innovation — even before it was a buzzword — for being quick to mentor the young. Nor did he dodge hopeless assignments. Mirzayantz recalled how once, when was young, he went after an account that everyone in authority told him was a suicide mission. Benaim joined him, doggedly fighting for a year, until they finally prevailed and won.
For much of its history, IFF has had chief perfumers, beginning with Ernest Shiftan, who founded the department, followed by the legendary Bernard Chant. But there have never been master perfumers among the rank and file. The company now defines them as “perfumers who have consistently challenged themselves and the company to take the art of perfumery to the next level; they are paradigm shifters who have developed trendsetting fragrances; and they are individuals who also have demonstrated leadership within the company.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast