FiFi Fragrance Awards Return to Lincoln Center With Live Voting, New Space for Junior Execs

By Anna Sekula May 27, 2011, 1:07 PM EDT

Photo: Jika González for BizBash

Fragrance Foundation's FiFi Awards
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In the last eight years, the Fragrance Foundation has made a number of big moves for its annual awards event, changing the venue, seating arrangement, and format of the evening. And after relocating from Avery Fisher Hall to the Hammerstein Ballroom, from there to the World Financial Center's Winter Garden, and on to the 69th Regiment Armory, the perfume and beauty industry affair returned to Lincoln Center on Wednesday, setting up its 800-person gathering at the Tent at Lincoln Center.

This year, longtime producer Dalzell Productions worked with the beauty organization to add to the lounge-style framework by incorporating two new elements—a special area for junior executives to view a simulcast of the proceedings and a live audience vote for the Fragrance Superstar of the Year award. And to celebrate its location and the warm weather, the crew fashioned a summer garden party look for the indoor event.

One factor that wasn't planned was a technical glitch. A venue electrical failure occurred early in the program, causing the event to lose power and interrupt the ceremony. As at the upfront for TBS/TNT last week, presenters made light of the situation as the producers, stage management team, and Bentley Meeker technicians worked to resolve the issue quickly by establishing a connection to alternate power sources. Despite this issue, the program was livelier than ever, with more famous faces—including former White House social secretary Desirée Rogers, Private Practice's Kate Walsh, chef Cat Cora, and reality show star Kelly Killoren Bensimon—onstage than in years past.

The switch to a new and bigger venue enabled Dalzell to tweak the layout. A wider stage was flanked by two large HD video screens angled in a way that allowed guests to view the ceremony from their seats, chairs, couches, and stools broken up into lounge spaces and arranged in a fan shape toward the stage. Additionally, the crew built two large bars, placing each at either end of the site and using the spots to integrate design elements within the overall theme. The location in Damrosch Park was also large enough to hold a second tent adjacent to the main structure, an open-air shelter where 150 younger and more junior members of beauty companies could watch video of the event as it took place.

Introducing the live vote provided a new way for the foundation to engage its guests and an opportunity for the industry crowd to do what they love best—network. Staffers manning each lounge handed out Meridia's audience-response systems through which execs could choose between 10 fragrances. And so it wasn't a blind vote, the organizers used cigarette girls to walk around with bottles of each nominated scent during the cocktail reception. This interactive component also mirrored another new honor, the Consumers' Choice award, in which the public was invited to choose their favorite fragrance online between Monday, April 25, through Thursday, May 12.

Toward the end of the evening, the organization posthumously inducted Elizabeth Taylor into the FiFi Hall of Fame, an award accepted on her behalf by cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden, and announced the Fragrance Celebrity of the Year award would be renamed as a tribute to the famous actress.

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