The natural next step for Audrey Gruss’ charity, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, was a fragrance to pay homage to her late mother.
“My mother loved white fragrances,” said Gruss, who is the founder and chairman of the organization, on why she created the scent with white florals. “She surrounded herself with them and she always loved them, but she struggled with depression. It wasn’t her fault and it wasn’t a weakness but a medical illness.”
Founded in 2006 in memory of her mother named Hope, the nonprofit raises funds for neuroscience research for the cause, treatment and prevention of depression. Her fragrance, also named Hope, will raise additional funds with 100 percent of net profits going directly to the charity.
“Not only is it a fragrance that stands on its own as a beautiful fragrance, but it has a humanitarian message,” she said. “Most people don’t know that depression is the number-one reason in the world for disability, according to the World Health Organization, and it really affects everybody in one way or another. We are so happy that we have this whole new way of bringing the message out.”
The fragrance, which will launch exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue, includes notes of lily of the valley, jasmine, gardenia and tuberose. The light floral scent is meant to uplift the senses and instill hope in the wearer, according to Gruss.
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Prior to founding her organization, Gruss worked in the beauty industry for 24 years, most notably as the director of advertising and creative services worldwide at Elizabeth Arden and as president of Terme di Saturnia skin care. She used her experience and connections from her previous roles to help create the fragrance.
For the bottle and packaging, Gruss worked with Marc Rosen, president and chief executive officer of Marc Rosen Associates, who created a slender bottle with gold detailing to evoke a sense of luxury. Gruss also worked with Honorine Blanc, master perfumer at Firmenich, to blend the scent.
“I wanted to create a fragrance around lily of the valley when I learned it was Hope’s favorite flower,” Blanc said. “It is also one of my favorite flowers since it’s so fragile and so strong at the same time.”
The Hope Fragrance will retail for $115 for a 1.7-o.z. bottle. The scent is also available in a 0.5-o.z. purse spray for $45, a hand and body cream for $40 and a candle for $50. The four-piece collection will be available on Sept. 1 exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue at four locations, including Fifth Avenue, Palm Beach, Bal Harbor and Palm Beach Gardens. Gruss has plans to expand the brand to offer a men’s cologne at a later date.
“[The fragrance] hits close to home for me,” Gruss said on the emotional connection she has with the scent. “I think it’s very rare in life when you can make a difference, so I’m looking forward to doing personal appearances [for the fragrance] and telling my story.”