LA-Favored Scents Take Fifi Awards Precedence
by vishaka robinson
CK One, Calvin Klein ($50). Sephora, Westfield Century City, LA, 310-843-0123. White Diamonds, Elizabeth Taylor ($68). Macy's, Beverly Center, LA, 310-854-6655. L'eau D'Issey, Issey Miyake ($96), Angel, Thierry Mugler ($78). Sephora, Westfield Century City, LA, 310-843-0123. No. 5, Chanel ($85). 400 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-278-5500. Eternity, Calvin Klein ($55), Giorgio Beverly Hills, Giorgio Beverly Hills ($72), Cool Water, Davidoff ($67.50). Macy's, Beverly Center, LA, 310-854-6655. Beautiful, Estée Lauder ($56). Nordstrom, The Grove, LA, 323-930-2230.
This year will see the launch of more than 1,400 new fragrances—a tidal wave of tempting newcomers from couture houses, celebrities, fashion designers, and independent perfumers. The question of which will become future classics—or even still exist a decade from now—is an uncertain alchemy. The average shelf life of a new scent is surprisingly short, with many being discontinued before the five-year mark. To even be considered for entry into The Fragrance Foundation’s FiFi Fragrance Hall of Fame, a fragrance has to have been around for 15 years or more.
“Winning a FiFi Fragrance Hall of Fame Award is akin to getting a lifetime achievement Oscar,” says Kate Greene, VP of marketing for fragrance industry leader Givaudan, of the esteemed group that includes such greats as Eternity, L’eau d’Issey, Beautiful, Cool Water, and CK One. “The Hall of Fame is really there to celebrate the fragrances that have shaped the landscape and stood the test of time,” adds The Fragrance Foundation’s vice president, Mary Ellen Lapsansky. “They need to represent the whole package: the bottle, the ad campaign, the juice itself. Everything needs to come together.”
Take the scent inspired by Rodeo Drive landmark Giorgio Beverly Hills. Although the store is now shuttered, its legacy lives on in the namesake fragrance whose unmistakable bouquet of jasmine, cedarwood, and orange flower is pure shoulder pads and sunshine in one spritz. As well as having the ability to encapsulate entire decades and moments in time, “these scents are often the ones [that] broke new ground and took risks,” says Lapsansky.
When Thierry Mugler launched Angel stateside in 1993, his potent combination of chocolate and patchouli divided opinion. Shocked Bloomingdale’s shoppers reportedly raced to the bathroom to wash it off, and industry experts proclaimed its blue-glass bottle unfeminine. Now 20 years old, it’s the sixth-most-popular fragrance in the US and credited with inspiring a new generation of perfume mavens: LA faces Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian both wore Angel before they launched their own fragrances.
But when it comes to celebrity scents, the forerunner to them all has to be Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds, which the star debuted in 1991 while living in Bel Air. Despite the constant flow of celebrity launches it remains the world’s best seller, notching up more than $1 billion in sales to date.
Thanks to White Diamonds, melding famous faces with fragrance is now de rigueur. When Chanel No. 5 first came to the US in 1924, it announced itself with no celebrity endorsement, just a single discreet ad in The New York Times. Eighty-eight years later, a bottle of Chanel No. 5 sells every 30 seconds, in part thanks to actresses Nicole Kidman and Audrey Tautou lending the legendary fragrance a constant influx of fresh Hollywood glamour.
And what of the iconic scents of tomorrow? If it were up to us, it would probably be The One by Dolce & Gabbana or Gucci Guilty. “LA consumers really buy into the sexy, raw, glam-infused scents,” says Jessica Hanson, director of fragrances at Sephora. “It’s the Guccis and the D&Gs that have become the new West Coast classics.”
So which scent will become 2012’s award winner? All will be revealed May 21 when The Fragrance Foundation holds its 40th awards ceremony at Lincoln Center, hosted by Glee’s Jane Lynch. The FiFi Fragrance Hall of Fame shortlist remains a closely guarded secret, so in true awards-show style, we’ll just have to wait and see.
photography by david lewis taylor
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.