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Lionel Richie, VS Angels Celebrate Scents at The Fragrance Foundation Awards

Richie revealed he has a fragrance in the works, and L Brands’ Leslie H. Wexner extolled the camaraderie of the perfume business.

NEW YORK — It was a big night for the usual industry stalwarts — Tom Ford, Dior, Marc Jacobs and Victoria’s Secret — and for at least one newcomer planning an entrance onto the fragrance scene: Lionel Richie.

Richie, a presenter at the 2016 Fragrance Foundation Awards here, is planning to launch his own fragrance at some point in the next year, he told WWD. “If you’re going to have a home line, and of course I’ve got the Lionel Richie Home, the barware, the spaware and all that stuff — and of course, the one I really wanted to bring out was the loft line…how many times have we seen ‘hello is it tea you’re looking for,’ ‘hello is it brie you’re looking for.’ So of course we’ll put all that in the line,” Richie said. “So Theo [Spilka, vice president at Firmenich] said to me, ‘what’s going on with the fragrance?’ So…that’s what we’re doing.”

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He was joined by a handful of celebrities at the event, including a slew of Victoria’s Secret Angels, Meg Ryan, Laverne Cox, Eric Dane, John and Joyce Varvatos, Maye Musk and Argentinian polo player Nacho Figueras, who has taken to writing romance novels. “It’s a trilogy, it’s a little steamy,” Figueras said. “I was trying to get more people into the world of polo and I thought that a romance novel could show people what polo is all about — not just the match and blah blah blah, but also what we do in the barn, the time we spend with the horses.”

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Adriana Lima, Petra Nemcova, Karolina Kurkova and Andreja Pejic were also among attendees.

Alec Baldwin hosted the event at the Alice Tully Hall and shot rapid-fire jokes into the fragrance industry crowd, opening with, “It feels so good to be at the fragrance awards, also known as the, what they have one of those?” and, “Usually when I want to go to a place that has 1,000 smells I just take the subway.”

Fragrance standouts for the evening included Dior Sauvage, which won multiple awards, prompting Terry Darland, president of North America for Christian Dior, to joke after multiple walks to the stage, “I should have worn more comfortable shoes.” Tom Ford Beauty also had a big night — taking home its 11th and 12th awards. Ford has won more Fragrance Foundation Awards than any other brand during the last decade, it has been in business at The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., according to the company. Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles’ won the first-ever Gamechanger Award.

L Brands founder, chairman and chief executive officer Leslie H. Wexner was honored as an inductee into The Fragrance Foundation Hall of Fame – introduced by Ed Razek, chief marketing officer and president of marketing services at L Brands, and Victoria’s Secret model Stella Maxwell.

“I’m Stella’s arm candy this evening,” Razek said. “I’ve worked with Les longer than either of us are willing to admit…he doesn’t have what many of you would call a fragrance nose, but he sure knows how to move a ton of fragrance.”

Before Wexner ascended the steps to the stage, the packed audience was already on its feet for the first standing ovation of the evening. Wexner said when he was thinking about entering the fragrance business, he reached out to the leaders — Leonard Lauder, Lindsay Owen-Jones of L’Oréal and Yoshiharu Fukuhara of Shiseido. Although he had no knowledge of the technical aspects of the business (“I don’t know a tipper from a flipper”), those key players “were all very generous with their time and with their advice,” he said. “What I would like to share with you — you are in an industry that has enormous hospitality, generosity and I think there is a collegiality that I never ever experienced in the fashion industry,” he asserted, drawing a sustained applause. “I think in fashion, this number of people might come out for my lynching.”

Tuesday’s date of June 7 was a serendipitous one for Sophia Grojsman, the recipient of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement, Perfumer award. Responsible for fragrances, including  Calvin Klein Eternity and Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Grojsman “believes in the power of the magnificent seven. Seven in numerology is a symbol — the number of completeness and perfection, both physical and spiritual,” said Nicholas Mirzayantz, group president of fragrances at International Flavors & Fragrances, in his introductory speech before presenting Grojsman with her trophy. Grojsman’s fragrances are typically composed of only seven ingredients, said Mirzayantz, “each part being absolutely essential to the sum.”

Grojsman’s scent collection has a reputation for the pared-down formulas she pioneered. Thanking the Fragrance Foundation for her award, she implied that the rest of the industry could stand to follow suit to connect with today’s consumers. “We have to think about perfumes — how to make them simpler and natural.”