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With Veronique Gabai-Pinsky as the honoree, Pratt Institute raised $350,000 at its annual dinner for the Marc Rosen packaging design scholarship fund.

Proceeds from the event, held on April 30 at the University Club, swelled the scholarship fund to more than $2 million, according to Rosen.

Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president of the Aramis and Designer Fragrances division of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.,  accepted the Art of Packaging Award with a touch of reverence. “Design is not just an inspiring component of my work,” observed Gabai-Pinsky. “It is a very important part of my life and a constant source of awe. And yes, a primary reason for my spending,” she added with a smile… “I simply cannot resist great design.”

Gabai-Pinsky reiterated a point she often makes, that the long-term success of a fragrance is usually linked to the juice, but “the first purchase, the one that starts the relationship between a brand and its followers, is linked to creative expression and design. This is why packaging design is so important. A bottle is the consummate expression of a brand’s identity, its equity and the story it wants to tell. It can be inspired by nature, by culture, by the arts…it can trigger memories or propel you into the world of tomorrow. It must become the symbolic expression of the fragrance you have come to love.”

Gabai-Pinsky then turned to the four scholarship-winning students seated nearby and gave them a few words of advice. Since the world does not need another lipstick or fragrance, she advised them that “your talent must be used to create a want and desire. Make sure your designs are nothing short of irresistible.” Moreover, she urged the students not to be intimidated by stingy budgets, problematic clients and their own complacency. “Stay hungry…stay curious…push boundaries…collaborate with creative minds in other fields” and “never compromise on quality.” She asserted, “Channel the demands of your crazy clients, and inspire the boring ones.” Her final tip: “Your passion will be your life-long source of energy.”

Among the long list of those she thanked was Rosen, the founder of his package design program, “for your contribution to our industry.” In turn, he thanked her for “the beautiful and eloquent words.” Rosen noted that this was the 24th annual scholarship dinner.

Gabai-Pinsky was wearing a Catherine Malandrino dress, and the designer was in the audience. “Veronique was my first customer, 14 years ago,” Malandrino said, recalling the day in 1998 when she was getting ready to open her SoHo shop. Gabai-Pinsky was knocking on the door at noon, before the shop was due to open. In addition to Gabai-Pinsky becoming “one of my biggest customers,” they also became friends. “We were two French women in America, and we bonded,” the designer said. “We go on vacation together. It’s real.”

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