Written By Katie Becker, ELLE Beauty and Health Director
In a year when we could truly use a big uplifting celebration, more than a thousand of us from the fragrance industry tuned in Thursday afternoon to see our favorite annual event. The 2020 Fragrance Foundation Awards kicked off their first all-digital ceremony with the personal connection we all need these days as we met President Linda G. Levy right in her own home in Manhattan, reminding us why we came together: art, creativity, personal passion, and community. In fact, we got to see personal messages from all the stars—celebrities and perfumers alike—shot in their own intimate circumstances. This year’s host Maye Musk guided us through the awards from her own couch like you were just sitting across the room from her, and you couldn’t help but notice the backgrounds of presenters like Cher, who introduced the Media Campaign of the Year Men’s from a grand garden doorway; Lionel Richie, whose iconic guitar shone just behind him in his at-home studio; or Ignacio Figueras and Delfina Blaquier who presented Candle and Home Collection of the Year atop their beautiful horses. And while introducing Fragrance of the Year Breakout Star, Rob Smith and Mila Jam connected one-on-one to speak about the social justice movement and supporting the Black trans community.
The real stars of the day, however, were the winners. The 25 standouts included perfumer Celine Barel of IFF who was awarded Perfumer Extraordinaire of the Year for Zoologist Squid, a blue juice with notes of the briny sea. The burnable resin Costa Brazil Resina De Breu won the new Innovative Fragrance of the Year award and founder Francisco Costa also shared his new campaign Amazon Forever to raise a million dollars to bring medical supplies to people in the Amazon region. On the 20th anniversary of Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, its classic scent Musc Ravageur won for Fragrance of the Year Hall of Fame—two decades after its creation. Kim Kardashian even made an appearance when she accepted the award for Kylie Jenner by KKW Fragrance which she co-created with her younger sister Kylie.
And in an unprecedented year, The Fragrance Foundation met the occasion not only with a quite a show (albeit on the small screen rather than the usual Lincoln Center), but with a whole a new category called Universal, recognizing our culture’s social evolution away from strictly men’s and women’s fragrances and into a world of fragrance that is not defined by gender. The three winners this year included BYREDO Sundazed for Fragrance of the Year Universal Luxury, Gucci Mémoire d’une Odeur Eau de Parfum for Fragrance of the Year Universal Prestige, and Gucci The Alchemist’s Garden The Eyes of the Tiger for Packaging of the Year Universal.
The 2020 Fragrance Foundation Awards was one for the books in so many ways; more personal, poignant, and timely than ever.