By and  on April 23, 2010

Cosmoprof organizers engineered their four-day trade show into a scene, animating and pumping energy into the venerable format. However, the spotlight was stolen by the erupting volcano in Iceland, which upended travel plans. Conversation seemed more centered on planes, trains and automobiles than industry chatter.

“Twenty-five percent of appointments were lost due to the volcano,” said Byron D.Donics, chief executive officer of HTI collection, who despite the travel chaos said he’d had the best show to date. Daniela Ciocan, marketing director for the U.S arm of Sogecos, the fair’s organizer, explained many of the hair events were reorganized using local hairdressers after U.K. stylists were unable to make the trip. John Paul DeJoria who was scheduled to make an appearance at the hair pavilion to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his John Paul Mitchell Systems brand was unable to fly in.

As of Sunday the attendance figures were running even compared with 2009, according to managing director of Sogecos Aureliana De Sanctis, despite the travel disruptions and Milan’s competing design week. The fair closed Monday with a 4.8 percent increase in attendance to 146,331 visitors. Italian attendees were up 6 percent, accounting for 77 percent of the total. However, the erupting volcano forced the cancellation of around 1,700 prescheduled appointments, and 400 exhibitors were unable to make the fair. Online ticket sales were up 73 percent since 2008. All 12,000 tickets to the fair’s hair pavilion sold out.

Often touted as the largest beauty fair in Europe, this year’s show covered 185,000 square meters of space and included 2,254 exhibitors, a slight 0.26 percent increase over 2009.

In a sharp contrast to the somewhat sparsely trafficked perfumery pavilion, the fair grounds came throbbing to life on midnight Saturday as Diesel with the help of its fragrance licensee L’Oréal threw a huge party in the hair pavilion. Upward of 3,000 partygoers came streaming through the gates, beckoned by three leading international DJs. The hall was illuminated by screens showcasing the new Be Stupid advertising campaign for the apparel brand.

Despite the disappearance of a number of international brands from the fair, Robert Sirot, director of L’Oréal Italy, underlined the importance of supporting local initiatives. Stefano Rosso, son of Diesel founder Renzo Rosso who oversees the brand’s external licences, said the fragrance business is the natural way to open the brand to additional consumers. Rosso reminisced about opening the brand’s Union Square store in New York years ago when he and his brother Andrea Rosso worked so late, that he laid down and went to sleep in the store’s display window, waking up the following morning to startle a group of people waiting for the bus. Meanwhile, the brand’s fragrance business continues to evolve. Dino Pace, Diesel’s Italy manger, revealed a new female fragrance is set to launch in September.

For the first time this year, a program of panel discussions centered on topics as diverse as engaging the consumer to promote sell-through, and the efficacy of natural products. Patrizio Stella, who head Bulgari Italy’s fragrance and cosmetics division, discussed brand distribution in a talk between leading ceo’s. He explained the need to differentiate and to take risks, terming it, “a fundamental part of the equation.” On another panel, Saturday, Guido Cornettona, international category director of Coty Prestige Italy analyzed fragrance sell-through patterns in perfumeries. He noted 22 percent of customers leave the perfumery with a purchase. Of that group, only 9 percent made their purchase on impulse. “There’s a gap, something is missing on the point of sale,” he said, suggesting retailers need help. He offered a few solutions including a computer program developed for Coty and retailers that assists consumers to narrow down the number of choices to five fragrances that match their mood and priorities.

Robert Cromeans, global artistic director for John Paul Mitchell Systems, was in a celebratory mood as he put on a platform show in front of a hyped-up crowd drawn to the company’s anniversary celebrations. The firm is updating its original shampoo with the Hawaiian Awapuhi ingredient that Mitchell used in early products and is due to be launched globally in Las Vegas in July.Cromeans also talked about Mitchell’s diversified approach to the market, which even includes pet products. One of the brighter prospects is hair coloring. Cromeans said the company does $40 million to $50 million in this category but has ambitions to reach the $200 million mark. Behind the glitzy Mitchell booth, was the Aveda space featuring a model dressed in a ballgown produced from real greenery and showcasing videos running on monitors as part of the dress.

Ferragamo also chose the fair to launch its new women’s fragrance, Attimo, set to rollout in September with a lavish dinner for 400 guests in a medieval palace in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore.

Attempting to revamp the staid atmosphere in the prestige perfumery hall, the Italian version of Vanity Fair magazine managed to tempt a number of missing brands to return to the fair’s folds by allowing them to create their own treatment rooms and offer demonstrations off a circular courtyard. Another popular new feature of the hall was the Discover Beauty section featuring 15 relatively unknown brands.

While an obvious effort had been made to rejuvenate the fair with new initiatives in some pavilions, particularly the space devoted to green products, hall 36, the traditional bastion of prestige market perfumery, seemed to lose foot traffic due to a scarcity of major international brands. One manufacturer referred to the hall as, “a dinosaur.” Paolo Bevegni, international director for Collistar was more constructive. “It’s just that they’ve forgot to animate the selective part of it.”

As to next year, fair organizer De Sanctis indicated she planned to make changes in hall 36, “We need to launch products here.” Her broader vision is to develop areas where people can talk, admitting, “Italian people don’t like simply listening.”

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