With a dramatic flourish, Fragrance Foundation Awards emcee Alec Baldwin held up his wrist, showing a plastic bracelet, as he opened the 43rd annual show at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday evening. But the simple plastic bracelet was not a trinket bought from an Elizabeth Street sidewalk vendor — it was his hospital ID bracelet.
This story first appeared in the June 19, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Baldwin’s wife, Hilaria, had given birth to their second child, Rafael Thomas Baldwin, at New York Hospital, at 1:30 that morning, and the bracelet identified him as the proud father. “When you think about it, a fragrance is probably responsible for that baby,” he cracked.
Celebrities also helped Dior to win two of its four awards — Women’s Media Campaign of the Year with Charlize Theron for J’adore, and Robert Pattinson for Dior Homme Eau for men. J’adore was also inducted into the Fragrance Hall of Fame, and Dior Homme picked up the trophy for Fragrance of the Year, Men’s Prestige.
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Terry Darland, president of Parfums Christian Dior North America, was quick to thank one man for the media awards: Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton. “Thanks, Bernard Arnault, for the media budget,” Darland gently joked. Later, Pamela Baxter, president and ceo of LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics, North America, and president at Christian Dior Couture Inc., noted that consistent media spend and freshened images led to J’adore’s induction into the hall of fame. “Bernard Arnault is helping us do what’s necessary to keep a classic fragrance relevant,” Baxter said.
Tom Ford Beauty won both Men’s Luxury and Women’s Luxury Fragrance of the Year honors, with Mandarino di Amalfi and Velvet Orchid, respectively.
Among other high points, Taylor Swift proved that celebrity fragrances aren’t completely dead by winning the Women’s Popular category for her fragrance Incredible Things, although she was not in attendance to pick up the award. Baldwin feigned displeasure: “I can’t believe Taylor Swift didn’t show up,” he said in mock irritation. “I’m so pissed!”
By Kilian walked away with two awards — Indie Fragrance of the Year and Packaging of the Year, Men’s, both for Intoxicated. Marc Jacobs garnered two awards for Daisy Dream — Packaging of the Year, Women’s, and Consumer Choice, Prestige. Unsurprisingly, Bath & Body Works prevailed in the Consumer’s Choice, Popular category with its A Thousand Wishes scent. International Flavors and Fragrances perfumer Clement Gavarry was honored in the Perfume Extraordinaire category with Perfume Calligraphy Saffron. Banana Republic Modern Man walked away with the Fragrance of the Year, Men’s Popular award; Giorgio Armani Sí garnered the Fragrance of the Year, Women’s Prestige honors. The Bath & Body category winner was Hermès Le Bain; Hermès also picked up an award for Interior Scent Collection of the Year with Le Parfum de la Maison.
Kendall Jenner, the face of Estée Lauder’s upcoming Modern Muse le Rouge fragrance, was the inspiration for more than one joke. “I checked my Instagram account before the show, and I had 17 followers,” John Demsey, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., told Jenner, standing next to him onstage. “You have 48 million followers on all your platforms. I have long way to improve.” He wasn’t the only one dazzled by Jenner: later in the evening, Baldwin took a minute from emceeing duties to hop down to the first row and take a selfie with the model.
However, Demsey had no room for improvement in the award category. He was inducted into the hall of fame with a heartfelt speech acknowledging his Shaker Heights, Ohio, upbringing (mom was in the audience), and his many mentors, including the Lauder family, especially Leonard Lauder, chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.; Fabrizio Freda, president and ceo of the company, and Rose Marie Bravo, a member of Lauder’s board of directors. Bravo gave Demsey his first break in the beauty industry when she recruited him for the Macy’s executive training program.
Demsey thanked so many people he put them into categories, from the Lauder family to the designers and pop-culture figures he’s worked with in his 24 years at Lauder. He confessed that his first boss — not Bravo — told him he wasn’t going to amount to anything. “It’s kind of sweet,” he said with a smile, “because I guess I did amount to something. It’s a testament to following your passion and your dreams and staying incredibly focused.”
Firmenich master perfumer Annie Buzantian delivered a similarly emotional speech as she was also inducted into the organization’s hall of fame. Buzantian’s list of creations over the past four decades includes such enduring fragrances as Estée Lauder Pleasures for women and Tommy by Tommy Hilfiger. She also noted with a shy smile that she started out creating smells for dishwashing liquids and cat litter — until Estée Lauder gave her the encouragement to work in fine fragrances, beginning in 1972. “She gave me the inspiration and the confidence,” said Buzantian.
Buzantian’s two daughters followed her into the fragrance world, she noted proudly. And while appreciative of the honor bestowed on her, she insisted, “The best is yet to come.”