It’s fragrance awards season a-go-go with The Fragrance Foundation UK Awards last week, but right now we’d like to cast our eyes over the pond to the prestigious Perfumed Plume Awards™ – an annual celebration of fragrance journalism now in its fourth year, and gaining ever more attention all over the world.
Held in New York, the ceremony (and what looked to be a fabulous perfumed party!) was held at The Society of Illustrators, which the founders and organisers, Lyn Leigh and Mary Ellen Lapsansky – both perfume industry veterans – agreed, for them the awards ‘…honour and recognise fragrance stories and the many talented writers and visualists who give the reader an inside view of the cultural, historical, scientific and personal approaches to fragrance design and what it takes to create an evocative scent.’
Winners were each presented with a signature Tiffany pen, but perhaps more than just the honour of recieving the award, The Perfumed Plumes are all about showcasing the incredible diversity of writers using fragrance as a theme – helping spread the scented word far and wide.
We’re always encouraging the sharing of these ‘perfumed stories’, and are delighted to bring you the list of 2019 winners, along with links to their fabulous fragrance writing. Congratulations to ALL the finalistsand winners, we’re going to sit back, pour ourselves a cup of tea, and allow ourselves to fall under your scented spells…
Perfume Stories in Mainstream Media – Print – Magazines, Newspapers:
“Chemical Romance” – New Beauty — by April Long
Commuters waiting for their ride at Los Angeles Mar Vista bus stop are being presented with a mysterious chrome cylinder, the inside glowing blue, and a sign that reads: ‘Try Street Perfume’…
Those brave enough to stick their hands inside get a spritz of a surprising scent created by Alan Nakagawa, in his tenure as Creative Catalyst Artist-in-Residence at the L.A Department of Transportation. But don’t be expecting something along the lines of Chanel No. 5 or Shalimar, for as Nakagawa admits, ‘They weren’t really designed for anybody to wear. They were designed to evoke conversation at a bus stop.’
And quite how that conversation might go is anyone’s guess, as the scents are all ultra-locally inspired,
Working with the agency’s Vision Zero team for a year, Nakagawa’s mission is to reimagine how people perceive the streets around them. Having already made art-filled zines and road-sign haikus, he was also ‘…obsessed with experimenting with something to titillate the nose.’
Anyone travelling to L.A in the next few weeks? Here are three of the weekly-rotating ‘Street Perfume’ scents you could try, if you dare…
Into Town: ‘It’s a plant, indigenous to the area, called California sagebrush. Back in the day when the caballeros were working really hard, and then they had a break, they would rub this plant all over their bodies because, you know, they wouldn’t bathe or anything,’ Nakagawa explains. ‘Then they would ride into town and do whatever partying they were going to do. I like the idea of this early form of perfume that the cowboys used in California that happened to smell good enough it would at least neutralize their stench.’ Economic Development: ‘There are a lot of things going on in Los Angeles, a lot of changes. Some call it gentrification, some call it economic development. I wanted that to be more of a fun smell. So it’s kind of a lavenderish smell at first, kind of musky, and then it quickly changes into a coffee smell with cocoa and vanilla. Everyone who smells it always starts giggling, which is what I wanted to evoke. I wanted to make it playful, even though the discussion happening currently is very toxic.’ Hollywood Springtime: ‘This one is very autobiographical because I’ve always had this thing about the four seasons, having been born and raised in Los Angeles,’ says Nakagawa. ‘I’m only aware of the seasons through the movies or television. I didn’t really see snow until I was an adult, for instance, and I only experienced autumn and orange leaves in post-grad…. I guess maybe I felt cheated when I was a kid. ‘Hollywood Springtime’ is going back to that thing about music. It’s a smell that has no base note, so it’s easy to forget what it smells like. When you smell it it’s like, Oh, this is very nice, it’s very springtime and flowery, it has a sweetness and a wetness to it. But after an hour you probably won’t remember what it smelled like because it doesn’t have substance.’
The bus stop is located at Centinela Avenue and Venice Boulevard, where the perfumes will be available to try throughout August. With a counter logging roughly 500 ‘arm-pokes’ in to the machine thus far, we rather hope something similar will make its way to the UK… and we’d be first in line to try!
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Jet-setters chasing the sun in Miami – and those lucky enough to live there – can now revel in the luxurious surroundings of Acqua di Parma’s newely opened boutique. Designed to evoke the spacious elegance of a stylish Italian home, the 1,000 square foot space boasts a sleekly luxurious interior outfitted with the brand’s signature style – Calacatta marble contrasts with dark Wenge wood to highlight the famous Acqua di Parma yellow of the walls. At the heart of the store, a huge leather-covered pyramid showcases bottles of the brand’s most famous and timeless Colonia fragrances.
Fans of the brand need not confine themselves to trying the Colognes and body products, as the much-ancipated barbershop provides gentlemen with original barber’s chairs in a devoted area that evokes all the traditional charm of a classical Italian barbershop, of course finished with the flawless contemporary touches for which the brand are known. Shaving and skincare products from their Collezione Barbiere have been created to accompany each phase of this ritual performed – you will be glad to hear – by an expert barber for a truly hands-on Acqua di Parma experience.
Located in the prestigious Brickell City Centre – right in the heart of Miami and one of the city’s most desirable zipcodes – it’s sure to become a must-visit for fragrance fanatics and style-seekers. And of course Acqua di Parma offer the perfect cooling scents to spritz if the temperature gets too steamy.
‘We selected Miami as our first city due to its international recognition in art, design and culture which are values that define the essence of Acqua di Parma,’ explained Giovanni Lepori, President North America. ‘With events such as Art Basel and Design Miami we knew this was a city we wanted to be a part of.’
We rather see ourselves wafting about in a silk maxi dress while wearing their Arancia di Capri – an aromatically uplifting blend of orange, mandarin, and lemon essential oils with the sparkle of petit grain infused by cardamon and resting on a base of sweetly smooth musk. In fact, yes, book us the plane tickets now, please!
Acqua di Parma Arancia di Capri from £64 for 75ml
Buy it at Acqua di Parma
The story of Alford & Hoff follows two athlete chums who met at college in America who happened to share a passion for scent and skin care – even though they were mercilessly teased for it in the locker roms – through their incarnation as business entrepreneurs and onto launching their own incredibly successful skin care, luxury fashion and accessories and now fragrance line. Barry Alford told us how their latest scent, No. 3, is ‘every day sexy’, and inspired by a unique (and rather bizarre!) industrial product. Intrigued? We certainly were, and wanted to know his five favourite scents, too. It soon became clear: Alford & Hoff are not your average fragrance house…
As Barry explained, ‘Alford & Hoff is basically a brand that’s about two buddies who were at college together and wanted to start their own gig. We didn’t know what we wanted to do, but we wanted to work together. Eventually we decided on a men’s skincare brand. I know that might seem unlikely, but we were the only two guys in our collegiate football team who were doing all the grooming and getting all the flack. As soon as I saw he had the same fragrances as me – I’m talking Drakkar and Farenheight, here – I knew I was going to be friends with him. I thought, finally, someone else who understands’
Super-savvy, they talked about starting a business together, but ‘…Jefferson [Hoff] went into the financial market on Wall Street. And when we gained success we were both spending more on our products – we just loved them. We still had these dreams of starting a business together, and knew it had to be something we were passionate about. Through my medical contacts I met a plastic surgeon and he helped us brand a male skincare line backed by his expertise and we got into Neiman Marcus on the back of that’
The male grooming market may have moved on in leaps and bounds these days, but Alford & Hoff were way ahead of their time, and that led them into the world of fragrance. ‘I think we were successful because we were two former athletes that were making it okay for guys to take care of themselves. We wanted to venture further and decided to launch a fragrance – which we were always so in to and still were! – and that became our Signature fragrance. It actually started to out perform our skincare line, and when in 2009 the economy crashed we decided to pull back and focus on that. It carried us through. We’ve done a lot of work but now are proud to say in many stores our fragrances are on the shelves next to Tom Ford and John Varvatos, not because of some borrowed glory off the back of another line, but because they’re great fragrances.’
Discussing the fact that for years, men have been under catered-for in fragrance, Barry agreed, saying he felt ‘guys are becoming way more sophisticated, they want more than just a sports splash, a deodorant or something their mom gave them, they want to choose it themselves and they’re hungry for knowledge! And the feedback we get is that more men are after fragrances that not everyone else is wearing. I mean let me give you some statistics. We’re in the top twenty five percent of fragrance brands in stores at the moment based on sales. That’s pretty major for a small, niche company like us!’
Choosing the right ‘nose’ is essential for any fragrance house, but Barry and Jefferson wanted someone they could have a really close working relationship with. ‘Rodrigo Flores-Roux has done all of our fragrances. We knew how good he was, that he’d worked on so many great brands, but didn’t choose him just for his reputation. We really hit it off, and to have that first fragrance be FiFi nominated in the first year just proved how well it worked! No. 2 was lighter and fresher I guess, perhaps more traditional, more towards the sportier end of the market. But this third one is something really different.’
You can say that again. Having sniffed it – a soaring medley of citrus that quickly deepens to something altogether deeper and sexier – we were astonished to hear that ‘…it’s inspired by days selling medical equipment. I know that sounds completely bizarre but please stay with me!’
‘I used to spend a lot of time in the operating room, consulting with surgeons during a procedure. 80% of my business was craniotomies, meaning I’d be working with neurosurgeons, and one product in particular was a cranial bone cement. And this putty, when you mix the sodium solution with the powder, it just makes the most beautiful smell. And everyone in every operating theatre I’ve ever been in says the same thing, for over ten years. “Oh my god I love the smell of this stuff!” I mean they gather ’round to smell it. So that’s what we tried to do with this fragrance – tied to metallics and aldehydes and a blend of vetivers’
‘Rodrigo got this bang on, first go. He delivered a masterpiece I think. I know he was just so inspired to be working from such a bizarre inspiration and it really triggered his creativity. I mean, I know industrial has been done in the niche world, but I don’t think anyone has done craniotomal cement before!’
Having learned of their unique inspirations and varied backgrounds, we could only guess that Barry’s five favourite smells (something we’re always intrigued to ask perfume people about) would be equally ecclectic. And we weren’t far wrong… 1. Gasoline – When my mom would go to pump gas I’d stick my head out the window of the car and love the smell! It does something to my throat, but I compare it to what they call the “drag” in fragrance. You know when you get this dry smell and just can’t stop inhaling? 2. Fresh cut grass – It reminds me of my football days, the peak of the season, being surrounded by people I love and having fun. 3. Halloween costumes straight from the packet – Another bizarre one, I know! But it’s just a fantastic smell, freshly unwrapped from the plastic. 4. Scotch tape – Its so unique and different, I’d recognise it anywhere and I guess those kinds of smells are comforting somehow. I think I have a really heightened sense of smell – I pick up on things others don’t. 5. The monsoon season in Arizona – When its rains in late summer after its been so hot in the desert. It’s unbelievable, and it’s sweet. I really want to use that in a fragrance. It’s gorgeous. I guess I’ll have to get Rodrigo out there to smell it for himself!
Alford & Hoff No. 3 £75 for 100ml eau de toilette
Exclusively at Harrods
Written by Suzy Nightingale
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