Sniffing Around at the Fragrance Awards

June 11, 2002, 12:00 AM EDT

The Fragrance Foundation's FiFi Awards Avery Fisher Hall, Damrosch Park Tuesday, 06.04.02, 5:45 PM onward
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They were billed as the Oscars of the fragrance industry, and indeed, the Fragrance Foundation's 30th anniversary FiFi awards ceremony had many of the elements of its more famous counterpart: plenty of red carpet, celebrity presenters wearing designer gowns, emotional thank you speeches, surprise winners and cheesy, scripted banter. (Who writes this stuff, anyway?)

After a champagne reception in Avery Fisher Hall's grand promenade, more than 1,250 guests filed into the theater for the awards presentation. Co-host Tommy Tune started by singing “There's No Business Like Nose Business,” which elicited cheers from the audience.

Thanks to celebrity wrangler Lori Levine of Flying Television Productions, there were plenty of stars on hand to give out such awards as “Best National Advertising Campaign of the Year-Men,” “Most Original Fragrance Feature by a Magazine” and “U.S. Women's Fragrance Star of the Year-Private Label.” In keeping with the night's offbeat “Sounds of Scent” theme, Levine told us, “We focused our attention on music-related celebrities.”

So Kiss frontman Gene Simmons was on hand, blowing kisses to select female audience members, along with Lil' Kim. (Both had less-than-altruistic reasons for attending: Levine said they're interested in launching their own fragrances, which begs the question: Who wants to smell like an aging rock star?) Deborah Gibson—no stranger to the fragrance world—presented, and another Deborah, Deborah Harry, walked on stage with Max Weinberg. Jamie Lynn Sigler, Candace Bushnell and Elaine Stritch were there, too. (Strich provided comic relief by poking fun at her own Tony-winning speech tirade, and remarked that perhaps the presenters at awards shows should be timed—“The music could be cued just as you're about to announce, 'And the winner is.,'” she joked.)

The winners, in fact, were varied. Michael Kors' men's fragrance was a big winner, as was Marc Jacobs' advertising campaign featuring Sofia Coppola. Coco Mademoiselle took home an award, along with Flower by Kenzo.

After the ceremony, guests proceeded under a tented walkway to the tent covering Damrosch Park (known as Restaurant Associates' Tent at Lincoln Center), where the decor played off both the “Sound of Scent” theme and the fact that a 30th anniversary is traditionally represented by pearls. So the sea of tables had pearlized pink and turquoise tablecloths. The floral centerpieces, made by Fiori, included belladonna, delphinium, hybrid delphinium, peonies and allium, and had different themes: rock 'n' roll, R&B, hip-hop and jazz, and incorporated sheet music and photos of musical legends among the blooms.

Guests got glasses of champagne as they entered the dinner tent and noshed on passed hors d'oeuvres like mini crab cakes and shot glasses of gazpacho while they mingled. Then it was time to settle down for a buffet dinner that included veggie lasagna, sugar-crusted beef tenderloin,.phparagus spears, sushi and various salads.

--Erika Rasmusson


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