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April 5th, 2019 at 583 Park Avenue in New York City

By: April Long

The first of many delights at today’s Fragrance Foundation Finalists’ Luncheon: Hostess Padma Lakshmi, who took the stage with grace and humor, casting her eyes over the industry luminaries crowding the ballroom of 583 Park Avenue and quipping, “You’re so well behaved! This is different from the food crowd. We’d be on our third gin and tonic by now.”

As Fragrance Foundation President Linda G. Levy noted in her opening remarks, the accomplished author, actress, model, executive producer, host of Bravo’s Top Chef, and UN Goodwill ambassador “represents what we at the Fragrance Foundation stand for: creativity, passion, artistry, and exceeding expectations.” Lakshmi opened the luncheon by drawing an analogy between cooking and scent, saying, “both involve taking beautiful ingredients and combining them in a very particular way, but it’s also more than that. What we’re both trying to do in our work is to evoke emotion, to inspire joy or nostalgia or sensuality in the person who wears the fragrance or consumes the food.”

The afternoon was a celebration of the fragrance world’s recipes for success, with the announcement of the 2019 finalists for the Fragrance Foundation Awards in categories including Fragrance of the Year, Packaging, Home Collection of the Year, Perfume Extraordinaire, Fragrance Hall of Fame, Media Campaign of the Year, Social Media Campaign of the year, and Consumer Choice. Additionally, for the first time ever at the Finalists’ Luncheon, the winners were announced in seven categories. Dior Sauvage won Breakout Star, Byredo Eleventh Hour took the gong for Indie Fragrance of the Year, Diptyque’s Legend of the North collection was awarded Home Holiday/Seasonal Fragrance Product of the Year,” Byredo’s Black Saffron range won Bath and Body Line of the year, Hollister Togetherness nabbed Fragrance of the year, Popular Men’s, Oprah Magazine won for Editorial Excellence in print, and Allure for Editorial Excellence online.

The biggest surprise—and perhaps most thunderous applause—came with Levy’s announcement that Nest Fragrances founder Linda Slatkin will be honored with the Gamechanger Award at the June 5th Fragrance Foundation Awards, joining Tom Ford as the Hall of Fame honoree, and IFF Master Perfumer Dominique Ropion, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement, Perfumer Award. “I had to control myself and not say how fabulous she is in three million ways because I’m waiting to do that with other people on June 5th,” Levy said, after naming Slatkin as the honoree.

Other major highlights included Victoria’s Secret model Martha Hunt’s acceptance of the Face of the Year Award (“Fragrance all about inspiration, and evoking a feeling,” she said, “and I’m so proud to be a part of that legacy”), and Levy’s overview of the impressive impact of National Fragrance Day, which reached an audience of more than 200 million social media followers on March 21st. This parlayed into one of the day’s biggest awards: 2019 Instagrammer of the Year, which Levy handed to beauty industry entrepreneur Mona Kattan, hailing her as “a strategic businesswoman whose inspiring beauty content and down-to-earth and fun-loving character have made her a globally recognized Instagrammer with more than 1.8 million followers.”

The event wrapped up with Levy’s nod to Padma—“We now welcome you as an official member of the fragrance community”—and a reminder of the Fragrance Foundation’s mission: to inspire the world to discover the passion and artistry of fragrance. A part of this is to celebrate the creatives themselves—“I’m very proud that we now highlight, name, and thank the perfumer for every nomination,” she said—as well as to engage consumers, which the Fragrance Foundation is doing with the Consumer Choice Awards, which are now live online. Winners will be revealed at the June 5 awards at Lincoln Center, hosted by the always entertaining Jane Krakowski.

Photos By: BFA / Griffin Lipson