Fragrance Foundation bestows its coveted FiFis

The titans of the beauty and fashion world and a celebrity or two converged on Lincoln Center in New York recently for the 21st annual Fragrance Awards -- the FiFis.

It was a mass demonstration of fashion sense (and fashionable scents) by the image-conscious perfume industry, the very people who manufacture and sell dreams in a bottle. The men wore standard black tie, but the women were dressed in enough extravagant designer rags to fill the pages of a year's worth of Harper's Bazaars. And not a body went undoused, it seemed.


One could not Escape the scents that lingered like an Obsession and clung for an Eternity.

The $700-a-ticket ceremony drew 1,500 people from around the world, including Paloma Picasso, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Mariel Hemingway, CNN's style reporter Elsa Klensch, Carolyne Roehm, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and Nicole Miller. The event at Avery Fisher Hall, complete with an after-dinner dance under a huge outdoor tent, was as glitzy as the Tonys, only without that annoying orchestra music to drown out acceptance speeches that went beyond 30 seconds. Thankfully, most of the winners of the FiFis said only a few words.


The awards are presented by the Fragrance Foundation, a New York-based trade organization. The FiFis, so named because it sounds French, are awarded to the best new scent introduced the previous year, the best advertising campaign and the best packaging in both men's and women's categories.

The big winners of the evening were designers Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren. Ms. Karan won the best women's print campaign for her feel-good ads that feature a young model nuzzling the neck of Ms. Karan's sculptor husband, Stephan Weiss. (Mr. Weiss designed the perfume bottle.) Her signature scent also won the coveted award for best new women's fragrance in the exclusive category, defeating Dune and Jil Sander Woman.

Ms. Karan, dressed in a black-and-white bohemian outfit from her recent collection, heaped platitudes, as she always does, upon her husband.

"I want to thank Stephan, who was absolute inspiration. And God only knows how good his neck really smells," she said on her first trip to the podium.

Her second trip yielded this: "I want to thank my husband, who has been with me since the beginning of time. It was my husband who believed in doing this . . . he is the most wonderful husband in the world."

Give us a break.

Mr. Lauren, a no-show, picked up several awards for the men's version of his wildly successful Safari perfume. The men's cologne won for the best print advertising campaign, which featured Mr. Lauren as a cowboy, and the best television campaign -- in which, again as a cowboy, Mr. Lauren rode a wild steed into the surf as the voice-over intoned: "Living without boundaries. Safari for Men by Ralph Lauren."