Hope Fragrances is adding another scent to its repertoire of philanthropy-minded offerings, inspired by founder Audrey Gruss’ mother.
The perfume, Hope Night Parfum, launched at Bergdorf Goodman last month for $300. Hope Fragrances donates all of its sales to Gruss’ charity, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, which she founded in 2006.
Both the products’ and charity’s names come from Gruss’ mother, Hope, who suffered from a lifelong battle with depression. To Gruss, fragrance seemed the obvious way to marry her mother’s interests with philanthropy.
“I realized that my mother had something she had taught me from childhood about fragrance, and beauty, and the feeling of beauty that fragrance creates around us. I thought, while these doctors are taking years to come up with results, why not go back to something that my mother loved, and create one in her name?” Gruss said.
Hope Night Parfum showcases white flowers, which were favorites of Gruss’ mother. “My mother always had a garden of lily-of-the-valley. When she and my father lived in Florida, she discovered night-blooming jasmine. She was also one of the first people to introduce me to tuberose, and she loved gardenia,” she said. Other notes in the fragrance include amber, patchouli and plum.
The perfume’s bottle, crafted by designer Marc Rosen, references the fragrance’s uplifting quality. “I knew Audrey’s parents and remembered them, so it was emotional for me as well. Audrey agreed that perfume was the ultimate luxury. Today, women are looking for luxuries,” Rosen said. “We wanted to create a beautiful, collectible bottle, and the whole spiral sense of it is aspirational.” The crystal flacons are numbered and double as collectibles.
The launch comes at a critical time for the fragrance category, which has faced declines in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Gruss, however, remains optimistic about her charitable efforts. “Our launch at Bergdorf last February was affected by the coronavirus, but our goal for this season is to donate $100,000 to Depression research. After the vaccine, our goal is to give upward of $200,000,” Gruss said.
The proceeds’ benefits are myriad. One of its main objectives, Gruss said, was finding alternate treatments for mental illness, given what she sees as a white space in the pharmaceutical realm. “There are still no new medications since the advent of Prozac in 1985. All of the new categories have been variations of Prozac. The problem was, 35 percent of the people who needed medication did not respond to that class of medication. We are funding five of the most advanced new treatment proposals,” Gruss said. “They are the closest we can get to new treatments, which may help 35 percent of the people who don’t respond. They’re just not getting the help they need, and these are the people we have to help desperately.”
Gruss was also steadfast in her mission. “The fragrance business is a multibillion-dollar business. I thought, if we could capture something my mother loved, I knew it could create a beautiful, positive feeling,” she said.
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