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WWD Beauty Forum: Judith Gross Touts a Natural Course

The global marketing director for Naturals at International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. spoke about quality, sustainability and truthfulness.

Judith Gross, global marketing director for Naturals at International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., spoke about quality, sustainability and truthfulness and how they are invaluable assets to success in the natural fragrance industry.

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

Gross oversees marketing for Laboratoire Monique Rémy (LMR), a company based in Grasse, France (and purchased by IFF in 2000), that specializes in the cultivation of natural and raw materials for fragrance and flavors.

“It started with a woman with a vision,” said Gross about LMR founder Monique Rémy. “[Rémy] is a true iconoclast.”

Gross explained that at the heart of the LMR business model is respect and transparency.

“[There is] a true love for the natural product,” said Gross. “No marketing tools can invent it. Passion is a beautiful story to tell.”

Gross says it’s LMR’s emphasis on respecting the ingredients, the surrounding community and the art of perfumery that gives LMR an industry edge. LMR routinely works alongside local farmers, who sustainably harvest plant varieties with the best olfactive traits and highest yield. Rémy, who works directly with farmers on improving harvesting techniques, said LMR’s farmers take special care when gathering natural ingredients, paying close attention to the best times of day to harvest and even ensuring insect populations are balanced. The results, according to Gross, who also helped develop IFF’s Harvest Series collection, are high-quality natural fragrance ingredients, unparalleled in the industry.

“You just have to smell [an LMR fragrance] — you can tell the difference,” said Hermès perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena in a video shown during the presentation.

“[My products] are alive, I believe in them,” said Rémy, herself, in the video.

Gross went on to describe the delicate harvesting process, from the thoughtful gathering of plants to their transformation into a finished product.

“ ‘A rose is a rose’ doesn’t apply in perfumery,” said Gross. “You can’t build a Ferrari with a Fiat engine.”

LMR’s most recent fragrance collaboration, DKNY’s PureDKNY A Drop of Verbena, launching in September, is a delicate citrus green floral scent, which includes verbena-basil sourced sustainably from Togo.

Trudi Loren, vice president of corporate fragrance development worldwide for the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., who was also featured in the video, said, “[There is] sincerity in the voice [that one] cannot fake.”