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April 2018

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“So, what exactly are you writing about?”a friend asked me directly. “With so many great perfumes coming up in a year, what’s all that niche buzz?” And more: “If my sales lady at the XY store knows all about the newest perfumes, why would I need you?” and “Niche? That sounds so snobbish to me!” I love questions, there’s no wrong question. This conversation greatly helped me with QandA’s for my blog: here are some of the A’s:

The word niche is becoming very present: niche perfume brands have grown in number and in the past few years, their constant growth lessening the market share of mainstream brands, has risen rapidly: 60% since 2005. Which, of course, means that mainstream brands made less money. When you think about billions of the Euro’s worth of a pie, oh yes! – niche is cutting seriously in it.

When did all this niche jazz start? Actually, you may say that niche perfumes existed long before mass production: kings and queens had their olfactory signatures, their own specially designed formulas. Nowadays, you don’t have to be royalty to have your very own special perfume. I think that niche is a counter action to mass, the result of the growing population of olfactory connoisseurs after the economic shock of 2008. and focus on individuality. As with, for example, wine, chocolate or coffee, consumers are now increasingly keen to learn about composition and provenance, fair trade included.

Definition(s)

The Fragrance Foundation (TFF, NY) once categorized fragrances as “niche” or “mainstream” based on the number of doors they were supported in (that is, the number of retail outlets stocking a specific scent or brand). This would generally mean that the majority of scents you find in large retail franchises and department stores are classed as mainstream or “designer” scents, such as those launched by fashion houses.

The Fragrance Foundation now categorizes Niche Fragrances as Indie Fragrances, the smaller, successful, entrepreneurial brands not supported by a large company. The Foundation defines an Indie brand as “one that has been on the market for at least two years and is distributed in 1 to 25 doors.”

Niche perfumes provide an interesting and special kind of scent that is difficult to find, using higher concentrations of perfume extracts. Yes, they usually come with a high(er) price but nevertheless, perfume lovers find great value in every drop. You also might say that the purpose of niche perfumes is to tell a story and evoke memories through scents.

Basic niche brands principles: 

– They have own perfumer in charge of the fragrances of the house, just like it used to be.

– A selective approach to the distribution of products: no mainstream retail stores.

– No advertising, apart from chosen magazine articles and interviews with prominent media. Independent bloggers are welcome. For them, a good reputation is the best way to promote their perfumes.

One step further…

Niche, indie or artisan? I don’t want to confuse you, but here comes more terminology:

Niche: everything that is not a designer. Niche originally implied something different than what you find at department stores, but the term has become less meaningful as the niche market has exploded.

Indie: niche, but are smaller, independently owned brands.

Artisan: A subset of indie that refers to brands that produce artisan-made products – artisan means handmade, in-house. The best artisan products are original and creative, and they contain a piece of the creator, a touch of the artist’s hand. Creators matter.

Why Niche? 

Niche people often argue that boutique perfumes offer the consumer the opportunity to reward oneself with a scent that is both uncommon and individual. Many might reason that niche equates to quality; in that greater attention to detail has been given to the construction of the perfume, and that components are of the highest caliber. Many prefer to pay more for the privilege of not smelling like someone’s ex-husband or mother-in-law… Also, they want to know the person behind their perfume, the artist of scents, the composer. Last but not least: the point is to express yourself.

Why Designer? 

The designer brands also have an edge. What they lack in terms of exclusivity, they make up for in price and mass appeal – the consumer buying into the lifestyle that these designer brands represent. More and more designer brands are creating their own niche brands. In some of their high-end boutiques, you can also use the services of a personal fragrance adviser.

What’s In It For You?

As consumers, we win. Not only do we have full access to our designer scents in any and every mall, but niche perfumes, thanks to the internet, are now becoming more accessible.

Salespeople are getting more and more perfume-educated. To sell. Designer brands provide them with precise how-to instructions, which is great. But what advisers like me do is something different. Personal. Holistic.

I believe that your fragrance is an expression of who you are, your personality, your feelings, passions, emotions and how you present yourself to the world.

The Plum Girl
Photo: © Kornwa Dreamstime

Gold and scented pixie dust!

Just a week ago we were impatiently heading towards the Esxence fair in Milan, in anticipation of all it has to offer…ah! Sweet and fragrant memories!

I would like to share with you my impression and personal experience of visiting the 10th Esxence – The Scent of Excellence Fair in Milan 2018- for the first time.

The Plum Girl blog started just around a year and a half ago, so this was a kind of debut for me. First impressions about the fair itself? Here it goes, I give you a survival guide for Esxence:

Intro

A fair? I would rather call it an exclusive exhibition of the finest niche perfumes. The 10th edition of Esxence – The Scent of Excellence in Milan made sure that you feel like you are entering a sacred place when walking inside The Mall building. The Mall is located on Lina Bo Bardi square. She was an Italian born, Brasilian modernist architect, famed also for her furniture and jewelry design.

The contrast of a bright sunlit April day and the entrance hall dressed in black, featuring Esxence 10 years sign (gold!) accentuated the perfect Insta photo hot spot:

This black and gold combination, together with spaghetti curtains did its job. Like in all temples, you must walk through a niche or grotto before you enter the shrine itself.

Plot

I went down the hole. Ops! there goes my meticulously drafted plan of the first-day visit- poof! in air. Scented air. A lot of scents filling the air. I lost it, right then and there. A slight panic attack. I had just stepped out of my car after seven hours of driving, parked and plunged straight into heaven!

My thoughts: ok. I can do this. Just start slowly, from the left side and take it from there…you’ve got time before scheduled meetings…yap.

Feeling like Alice in Wonderland. Crazy Ice Age squirrel in a barrel of nuts!

Such an abundance! Any niche perfumes geek’s dream come true…

This is a world where most of the business cards are scented, “juice” doesn’t refer to a diet drink, sniffing is not an illegal activity and spriz…well, it’s not Aperol Spritz. Not here.

The first day was meant to give me an insight and full coverage of terrain, on the second and third day I executed previously planned visits and meetings and Sunday was just a quick recap. I did make a mistake: being too overwhelmed, I mostly forgot to take photos. Which is fine, really, because I focused on meeting people, sniffing, sampling, networking and having very interesting conversations. Next time I’ll fail better…

Special thanks to Meganmeganinsaintmaxime and JakubPersefume! They are ever so kind, helpful and sharing. As Megan said when I thanked her: “Someone helped me on my first visit to Esxence. I am helping you. You will help someone as well. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Bonus

You have a chance of meeting and talking to some of the most renowned people behind the perfumes you love! Art Directors, Noses, Creative Directors or Perfumers.

It gets even better when you don’t connect names and faces (I am a lousy perfumer/Nose groupie), this happened to me twice in Milan. Yep, I am learning from my mistakes. Even so, that turned out to be really cool because I was really relaxed while having a conversation with those two VIP’s (half an hour later, when I connected the dots, I was like: okeeey. Aha.)

This wonderful man I did recognize at once. I am a big fan of Aedes de Venustas and their new perfume is one that I fell in love with immediately!

Ralf Schwieger::: Perfumer (he doesn’t really like to be called a Nose…) and Musc Encense! for Aedes de Venustas. The list of perfumes he signs is quite impressive. I enjoyed our little chit-chat ❤️

Luca Maffei – sparkling personality, patience in presenting and renowned creativity, at Olibere Parfumes press launch:

If you are following my FB account, you can find more photos (the ones I managed to take – prepare yourself for the next Esxence) 🙂

Knot

The first day I wore heels for an hour. Spare flats were a relief. On the second day, flats were fully in action. Third and fourth day? Business Casual with -sneakers (I seldom wear sneakers if not practicing adequate sports activities…). Be gentle to your feet: you have 200+ stands to cover, starting at 10 AM until 5 PM …and all the fun doesn’t stop there.

Suggestions?

Smile, sincerely. You are in heaven, after all.

Wait patiently for your turn at stands to talk to brand representatives. Schedule your meetings.

Network proactively.

We are all here because of perfumes, right? Enjoy them!

Use wardrobe services. I dislike walking around with a bunch of bags in my hands. It’s not practical and I don’t think it’s polite to drag heaps of promo materials from one stand to another.

Reversal

Note to Organiser: Chapeau! You did a wonderful job!

Thank you, Agnese from the Press Office for having patience with me: hug!

Note to Exhibitors:

Feedback: (as one of my friends, a public speaking coach, likes to say: feedback is feedback. There’s no feedback to feedback. The purpose of feedback is to improve things!)

First, allow me to say that in my corporate days I did create, organize and manage quite a few stands on international fairs and trade shows. On the other side of the stand, as an Exhibitor, so I pretty much know what I am talking about.

I met truly amazing, wonderful and helpful people who treated my Press accreditation with respect and did a great job in representing brands. Thank you!

On the other hand, a few brand representatives’ behaviors can only be described as simply rude, uninterested, arrogant and haughty.

As a coach, I see possibilities for your improvement, guys. Do prepare yourself for fairs and trade shows.Train/coach your brand representatives or hosts/hostesses. It pays back. Yes, things get busy, yes, it is tiresome to take care of a stand all day long, day in, day out and talk to hundreds of people asking thousand of questions, but – hey! This is brand building at it’s most direct form. Besides being press people, we are – customers as well, right?

First impressions are made in 7 seconds and last for a very, very long time. Do mind that bloggers and press people exchange their impressions and that a repeated faux pas might really affect your brand reputation. Do you boast about your brand’s core values? Live them. It’s called authenticity.

Recognition

Esxence makes this world a better place.

It is truly an amazing, international display of fine perfumery at it’s best! Such a whirlwind of amazing fragrances. I highly recommended it! If I might help you next time I’m there – just let me know!

I am thankful for meeting so many simply wonderful people! That is the greatest benefit. Secondly, I did take home some new perfumes to review, for you! Some more should arrive by post, so this will provide material for more reviews for you to read!

Just follow #theadventuresofacuriousnose!

P.S. On one of the stands, their brand representative told me that I am a Meryl Streep look-alike. Maybe I am, but apart from looks I also share this statement:

“I no longer have the patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship, I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience”. -Meryl Streep

See, I didn’t write about perfumes at all 🙂

Will do, will do, soon…

See you next year in Milan!

The Plum Girl

Photos: ThePlumGirl, Olibere Parfums (Luca Maffei)

 

(I used storytelling drama structure principle, based on Aristotle’s “Poetics”)

While I was in Milan with my team, attending Esxence – The Scent of Excellence, The FF Awards Finalists’ Luncheon was held on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Here are the results! Yassss, Cuir de Russie by Le Jardin Retrouve review was indeed among the TOP 5 Finalists for the award Editorial Excellence – Online!
I was like:

The top five finalists for The Fragrance Foundation Awards and winners in Editorial Excellence, Social Media Campaign, and 360-Degree Media Campaign were unveiled!

Editorial Excellence in Fragrance Coverage awards was presented for three categories including Article, Online, and Feature. ELLE Magazine won both the Article and Feature categories with “Dream Catchers” and “This Is Your Brain on Vetiver,” respectively, both written by April Long. The Cut won the Online category for “It Took 150 Tries for Dior to Make Their Next Hit Perfume for Millennials” written by Kathleen Hou.

ONLINE
Winner
THECUT.COM – It Took 150 Tries for Dior to Make Their Next Hit Perfume for
Millennials


Finalists (In alphabetical order)

ÇAFLEUREBON.COM – Perfume, Poetry, and Rock: The Scented Intersection of
Transformation
ELLE.COM – Notes From Underground: Can a Fragrance Help Us Embrace Mortality
FRAGRANTICA.COM – Gold As a Parfumistic Concept
THECUT.COM – It Took 150 Tries for Dior to Make Their Next Hit Perfume for
Millennials
THEPLUMGIRL.COM – Cuir de Russie, by Elena Cvjetkovic

Parfums Christian Dior’s campaign for Miss Dior Eau De Parfum won the award for the Best Social Media Campaign, while Gucci Bloom by Coty was voted as best 360- Degree Marketing Campaign.

Ann Gottlieb, celebrated perfume strategist and founder of Ann Gottlieb Associates, was announced as the 2018 Hall of Fame Honoree. Ms. Gottlieb is widely recognized in the fragrance industry for her masterful ability to translate brands and personalities into fragrances that are both captivating and enduring. Ms. Gottlieb, whose work spans across every fragrance and market category, helped create iconic fragrances such as Daisy Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior J’Adore, Calving Klein Eternity and countless others.

“I adore fragrance,” said Ms. Gottlieb. “I love this industry and the people in it. So I
am thrilled to be honored by my peers for my life’s work, which has brought me so much joy and fulfillment.”


Olivier Cresp
, Master Perfumer at Firmenich, was announced as the recipient of the Lifetime Perfumer Achievement Perfumer award. Both Ms. Gottlieb and Mr.Cresp will be honored by the fragrance industry at The Fragrance Foundation Awards.

“The Foundation’s mission is to inspire the world to discover the artistry and passion of fragrance,” said The Fragrance Foundation president Linda G. Levy. “Every single winner, finalist and honoree announced today has played a central
role in helping to achieve this mission, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize their contributions.”

Victoria’s Secret Angel and IMG model, Romee Strijd was awarded The Fragrance Foundation’s Face of the Year, presented by Greg Unis, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Beauty.

The winners for Fragrance of the Year and all other categories will be celebrated at The Fragrance Foundation Awards hosted by award-winning actress, Jane Krakowski, on Tuesday, June 12th at Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall.


THE FRAGRANCE FOUNDATION AWARDS 2018 WINNERS

FACE OF THE YEAR
Romee Strijd

SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR
Winner

MISS DIOR EAU DE PARFUM – Parfums Christian Dior

Finalists (In alphabetical order)
GUCCI BLOOM – Coty, Inc.
KATY PERRY’S INDI – Coty, Inc.
MISS DIOR EAU DE PARFUM – Parfums Christian Dior
TOM FORD FABULOUS – Tom Ford Beauty
Y, YSL – YSL Beauté


360-DEGREE MARKETING CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR

Winner
GUCCI BLOOM – Coty, Inc.

Finalists (In alphabetical order)
CAROLINA HERRERA GOOD GIRL – PUIG
GUCCI BLOOM – Coty, Inc.
EMPORIO ARMANI – Giorgio Armani
MISS DIOR EAU DE PARFUM – Parfums Christian Dior
VICTORIA’S SECRET LOVE – Victoria’s Secret

EDITORIAL EXCELLENCE IN FRAGRANCE COVERAGE
FEATURE

Winner
ELLE MAGAZINE – This Is Your Brain On Vetiver

Finalists (In alphabetical order)
ALLURE – The New Fragrance Frontier
ELLE MAGAZINE – This Is Your Brain On Vetiver
MARIE CLAIRE – Into The Wild
MARIE CLAIRE – Popping Bottles
MARIE CLAIRE – Something’s In The Air

ARTICLE
Winner
ELLE MAGAZINE – Dream Catchers

Finalists (In alphabetical order)
ALLURE – Going Rogue
ELLE MAGAZINE – Dream Catchers
ELLE MAGAZINE – Scent-Sational
MARIE CLAIRE – In Her Own Words: Haley Bennett
MARIE CLAIRE – In Her Own Words: Jennifer Aniston

TOP FIVE FINALISTS
(All finalists listed in alphabetical order)


FRAGRANCE OF THE YEAR
WOMEN’S LUXURY

BYREDO VELVET HAZE – Byredo
GABRIELLE CHANEL – CHANEL
TIFFANY & CO. EAU DE PARFUM – Coty, Inc.
TOM FORD FABULOUS – Tom Ford Beauty
TWILLY D’HERMÈS – Hermès Parfums
MEN’S LUXURY
ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA PURA EAU DE COLOGNE – LVMH
GOLD KNIGHT – By Kilian
L’ENVOL DE CARTIER – Cartier
VIKTOR & ROLF MAGIC SAGE SPELL – Viktor & Rolf
TOM FORD OUD MINÉRALE – Tom Ford Beauty
WOMEN’S PRESTIGE
BLACK TULIP – NEST Fragrances
CAROLINA HERRERA GOOD GIRL – PUIG
GUCCI BLOOM – Coty, Inc.
JUICY COUTURE VIVA LA JUICY GLACÉ – Revlon
NARCISO RODRIGUEZ PARFUMS-FOR HER FLEUR MUSC – Shiseido Fragrances
WOMAN BY RALPH LAUREN – Ralph Lauren Fragrances
MEN’S PRESTIGE
COACH FOR MEN – Interparfums
HUGO BOSS, BOSS BOTTLED TONIC – Coty, Inc.
JOHN VARVATOS ARTISAN PURE – Revlon
PRADA LUNA ROSSA CARBON – PUIG
Y BY YSL – YSL Beauté
POPULAR
ELIZABETH ARDEN WHITE TEA – Revlon
GLOSSIER YOU – Glossier Inc.
ORIGINAL PENGUIN ICONIC BLEND – Falic Fashion Group
SHAWN MENDES SIGNATURE – Revlon
VICTORIA’S SECRET LOVE – Victoria’s Secret
PERFUME EXTRAORDINAIRE OF THE YEAR
FIRMENICH
GIVAUDAN
INTERNATIONAL FLAVORS & FRAGRANCES
MANE
ROBERTET
BREAKOUT STAR
DIOR SAUVAGE – Parfums Christian. Dior
MAISON MARGIELA REPLICA BEACH WALK – Maison Margiela Fragrances
MIU MIU EAU DE. PARFUM – Coty, Inc.
PEONY & BLUSH SUEDE – Jo Malone London
TORY BURCH EAU DE PARFUM – The Estée Lauder Companies

INDIE FRAGRANCE OF THE YEAR
ARTIST – Phuong Dang
MAISON TRUDON PARFUM IN BRUMA
MAISON TRUDON PARFUM IN II (DEUX)
MAISON TRUDON PARFUM IN MORTEL
POTENTIA AMBER GOD – House of Potentia


PACKAGING OF THE YEAR

WOMEN’S
CAROLINA HERRERA GOOD GIRL – PUIG
JASON WU EAU DE PARFUM – Parlux, LTD
TIFFANY & CO. EAU DE PARFUM – Coty, Inc.
VICTORIA’S SECRET LOVE – Victoria’s Secret
WOMAN BY RALPH LAUREN – Ralph Lauren Fragrances
WOMAN IN GOLD – By Kilian
MEN’S
COACH FOR MEN – Interparfums
GOLD KNIGHT – By Kilian
GUCCI GUILTY ABSOLUTE POUR HOMME – Coty, Inc.
JOHN VARVATOS ARTISAN PURE – Revlon
Y BY YSL – YSL Beauté
MEDIA CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR
WOMEN’S
CAROLINA HERRERA GOOD GIRL – PUIG
GABRIELLE CHANEL – CHANEL
GUCCI BLOOM – Coty, Inc.
MISS DIOR EAU DE PARFUM – Parfums Christian Dior
TWILLY D’HERMÈS – Hermès Parfums
VICTORIA’S SECRET LOVE – Victoria’s Secret
MEN’S
ARMANI CODE COLONIA – Giorgio Armani
ETERNITY CALVIN KLEIN – Coty, Inc.
PERRY ELLIS FOR MEN – Falic Fashion Group

HOME COLLECTION OF THE YEAR
COMMODITY HOME and BODY – Commodity
DIPTYQUE 34 BOULEVARD SAINT GERMAIN – diptyque Paris
MAISON MARGIELA REPLICA CANDLES – Maison Margiela Fragrances
SUGAR COOKIE COLLECTION – NEST Fragrances
TOCCA VOYAGE HOME FRAGRANCE COLLECTION – Tocca
BATH & BODY LINE OF THE YEAR
AROMATHERAPY COLLECTION FROM BATH & BODY WORKS – Bath & Body Works
DIPTYQUE DO SON FRAGRANCE GESTURES – diptyque Paris
JO MALONE LONDON EXFOLIATING SHOWER GEL – Jo Malone London
MAISON MARGIELA REPLICA BEACH WALK BATH LINE – Maison Margiela
Fragrances
VICTORIA’S SECRET ANGEL GLAM COLLECTION – Victoria’s Secret
HOME HOLIDAY/SEASONAL SECENT OF THE YEAR
LES CONSTELLATIONS – diptyque Paris
GREEN ALMOND & REDCURRANT CANDLE – Jo Malone London
HOLIDAY LIQUIDLESS DIFFUSERS – NEST Fragrances
HOLIDAY PAJAMAS – philosophy – Coty, Inc.
CONSUMER CHOICE AWARDS
WOMEN’S

AT THE BEACH – Bath & Body Works
CAROLINA HERRERA GOOD GIRL – PUIG
KATY PERRY’S INDI – Coty, Inc.
KKW CRYSTAL GARDENIA – KKW FRAGRANCES
LA VIE EST BELLE L’ECLAT – Lancôme
VICTORIA’S SECRET LOVE – Victoria’s Secret
MEN’S
COACH FOR MEN – Interparfums
HUGO BOSS, BOSS BOTTLED TONIC – Coty, Inc.
PRADA LUNA ROSSA CARBON – PUIG
FRAGRANCE VLOG OF THE YEAR
5 REASONS TO WEAR FRAGRANCES – Jeremy Fragrance
10 FRAGRANCES YOU NEED IN YOUR COLLECTION WHEN STARTING OUT | MEN’S
DESIGNER FRAGRANCES – Sebastian Jara
HOW TO BE MORE ATTRACTIVE | 4 LIFE HACKS THAT WORK! – Edward Zo
TOP 12 FORMAL OCCASION FRAGRANCES WITH REDOLESSENCE – Carlos J Powell
and Steven Gavrielatos
FRAGRANCE HALL OF FAME
CUCUMBER MELON- Bath & Body Works
CURVE FOR MEN – Revlon
PHILOSOPHY AMAZING GRACE – philosophy – Coty, Inc.
TRÉSOR – Lancôme

The Plum Girl
Source: TFF Press Release, 6th April 2018., TFF Photo by Casey Kelbaugh