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Elements Showcase 2012: Fragrance Fantasyland

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Thursday Aug 23, 2012

Sometimes a fragrance smells so delicious that you want to lick your wrist (or bite into your sweetheart's neck). Smell is as much associated with taste as it is with memory and this August's edition of Elements Showcase featured a pop-up shop by Alice & Peter, with gourmet mini-cupcakes from Miami caterers Stella's Sweet Shoppe that mirrored the gourmand fragrances and enabled you, at last, to eat your perfume.

If names like Patou, Worth, Cire Trudon, Santa Maria Novella, and Lalique set your heart beating faster, then the biannual Elements Showcase, which takes place in Manhattan in August and January of each year, is every perfume fanatic's fantasyland.

A highly-curated trade show, Elements Showcase has the highly-cultured atmosphere of a high-end art show, albeit one frequented by aficionados of fragrance and design. The brainchild of perfumers Frederick Bouchardy and Ulrich Lang and special events maven Jeffrey Lawson, Elements brings together visionaries from the worlds of fragrance, beauty, and design and blends them with the truly fragrance-obsessed.

The mélange of fans and buyers from boutiques, spas, retailers, and independent stores is complemented by a field of perfume and scent authorities who offer workshops and forums. Each edition of Elements Showcase features interactive art installations, pop-up shops, fragrance workshops, and beauty forums.

For this iteration, Perfumer & Flavorist Magazine sponsored a forum entitled "Trends in Fragrance Ingredients and Niche Formulations" and FIT’s Virginia Bonofiglio moderated a forum titled "Art & Commerce: Can They Live Together?" with panelists including Mandy Aftel of Aftelier and Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume, which resulted in a generalized consensus that perfumers are artists and artists know their worth.

This summer’s edition of Elements made it clear that everything old is newer again. One of the most prevalent fragrance trends is the ongoing reformulation of overlooked classics. The upcoming fall season will bring forth new renditions of beloved fragrances from the houses of Houbigant, Jacomo, and Patou, including limited edition Lalique bottles for the House of Houbigant.

Intertrade showcased a fragrance called Eight & Bob, which is packaged in a hollowed-out book of the sort where guns and flasks might appear in film noir. The story behind that book concerns JFK and his friend Albert Fouquet, the son of a Parisian aristocrat, who wore a bespoke fragrance that captivated JFK enough to request a sample - no, make that eight samples, plus one for brother Bobby Kennedy.

When Fouquet sent the samples to JFK, they were labeled "Eight & Bob" and arrived in a hollowed-out book to elude the Nazis. As for the fragrance, it’s as much a personification of JFK’s seductive prowess as Acqua di Parma is reflective of Cary Grant’s charms - and the fragrance is certain to be a best-seller upon its release in September.

As for those cupcakes, they were a complement to Gerald Ghislain’s new Alice & Peter line. Ghislain, perfumer of the much-loved Histoires de Parfums line, evokes the worlds of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, representing the two sides of our humanity: the character who goes deep into the rabbit hole to explore the world and the other who yearns to forever remain a child.

Ghislain’s new line of gourmand fragrances is called Alice & Peter and packaged to resemble delectable cupcakes of the sort that "Sex and the City" girls would eat atop a penthouse in Las Vegas.

You might imagine yourself to be beyond the global cupcake craze - and yet as soon as you bit into a mini rose chocolate toffee cupcake, it was almost imperative that you smell the matching gourmand fragrance.

And then you had to eat a mint chocolate cupcake - and spritz its sister fragrance. The Alice & Peter line is almost irresistible and you can see it appearing at bachelorette parties and girl weekends all around the world.

Given Ulrich Lang’s passion for both art and fragrance, Elements Showcase is the perfect setting for the release of a new Ulrich Lang New York fragrance. Started in 2003, Lang’s line of fragrances includes Anvers (the French word for "Antwerp"), Anvers 2, Nightscape - and now Lightscape.

For those already smitten by Lang, Lightscape will delight his fans with its atypical combination of galbanum and violet leaves - and for the Lang neophyte, Lightscape is likely to inaugurate a newfound love affair.

Lightscape’s effect is epiphanic (and truth be told, I’ve already lost my sample to my husband, which, oddly enough, is also my gain).

Lest one’s skin feel overlooked by the plethora of niche fragrances that stimulated the nose, Elements Showcase included an elite group of beauty products, such as the avant garde German skincare studio, Legart Forschungsatelier.

Making their second appearance at Elements, the Bavarian company creates limited editions of bespoke, sustainable beauty products that are based on handpicked, raw materials with the purest alpine spring water from the Kitzbuehel Alps.

Packaged in boxes that are an amalgam of objets d’art and origami, their Empire line is designed for an "intrepid pioneer" that is both easygoing and quality-conscious.

With its sleek packaging and stylish profile, Wanderlust Elixir, an age-defying serum, looks as if it belongs in the master bath of men like Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford.

Other exhibitors at Elements Showcase included Hayari Parfums, Bond No.9, Apothia Los Angeles, Yosh, Jouany, Estaban, Agonist, Acqua di Stresa, and Lisa Carrier Designs, chandler to Christina Aguilera, Cher, and other Hollywood film people.

Coffee beans were in abundance for cleansing the olfactory palate - but in truth, Elements Showcase always lingers in the mind for its convivial and elevated approach to the beauty and joy of fragrance.


Elements Showcase at Skylight West?
500 West 36th Street??
New York NY 10018

Elements Showcase

Elements Showcase on Facebook


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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