FiFi Indie Nominations - What a Joke

Beranium Chotato

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2011
I just read the press release announcing the 2013 FiFi Indie Award Nominees, and I am floored. First of all, how is there no Slumberhouse on this list? Even though Pear+Olive topped countless Best of 2012 lists (Cafleurebon had it second only to Musc Tonkin and EauMG gave it the top honor), it is not even in the running. And no offense to some of the nice perfumers who are represented below, but I've worn many of those fragrances, and they do not come close to the originality, artistry, beauty, and even engineering behind Pear+Olive. And where is Vero Profumo's Mito? Isabelle Doyen's daring Turtle Vetiver Front? Any of Christopher Brosius' great 2012 releases? These were all scents whose novelty and craftsmanship would have made them tops in any category--indie or otherwise. How does a list like this happen? How are such great pieces of art overlooked? Is the Fragrance Foundation really so out of touch that they snub the entire blogosphere when they compile these nominees?

I cannot take this seriously. What a joke.

Full Press Release: https://www.fragrance.org/press-release.php?id=123

Nominees:

Amber Oud by Kilian By Kilian, Inc.
Boutonnière No. 7 - ARQUISTE Parfumeur ARQUISTE Parfumeur
Bowmakers by D.S. & Durga D.S. & Durga
Broderie by Hayari - Paris Hayari - Paris
"Calling All Angels" April Aromatics April Aromatics
CUIRELLE - Ramon Monegal Barcelona Ramon Monegal Perfumes Barcelona
Eau de Flog, Opus Oils Opus Oils
EAU MONUMENTALE by THIRDMAN Third Man Inc.
Edward Bess "Eau La La" Edward Bess
Glam Monster Donato Style LLC
INEKE HOTHOUSE FLOWER INEKE LLC
Intimacy eau de parfum JoAnne Bassett
LADY DAY by Maria Candida GENTILE Maria Candida GENTILE
LE CHERCHE MIDI NO. 30 EAU D’HIVER LE CHERCHE MIDI
"Le Smoking" for Denver Art Museum DSH Perfumes
Lightscape Ulrich Lang New York Ulrich Lang New York
Meadow & Fir - Phoenix Botanicals Phoenix Botanicals
Moss Gown - Providence Perfume Co. Providence Perfume Co.
Purusa Root by Sebastian Signs Sebastian Signs Fragrances Company (LLC)
Qajar Rose - Lalun Naturals, Inc. Parfums Lalun, Lalun Naturals, Inc.
RAW SPIRIT "Firetree" Fragrance Oil World Senses Pty Ltd.
Rima XI - Carner Barcelona Carner Barcelona
Rodin , L. Rodin, LLC Rodin Olio Lusso
SPEAKEASY by P. Frapin & Cie P. Frapin & Cie
Strawberry Passion by Skye Botanicals Skye Botanicals
TERRASSE A ST-GERMAIN, JUL ET MAD JUL ET MAD
TRAYEE, NEELA VERMEIRE CREATION NEELA VERMEIRE CREATIONS
Treazon by Ayala Moriel Parfums Ayala Moriel Parfums
WILD ROSES BY AFTELIER PERFUMES AFTELIER PERFUMES
WOODY by smell bent smell bent

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And don't get me wrong: there are some very good perfumes on that list (also a few not-so-good ones). But if I were someone up for this prize, frankly, I would be embarrassed to know that the real showstoppers of the year weren't even in the competition. It would be like winning something on a technicality and not for merit.

Sorry, I am just in total shock and disbelief that Pear+Olive is not on that list. This is a scent that not only has depth and intricacy, but honestly, if you had told me it was engineered by Jean-Claude Ellena himself for all its diaphanous tenacity (an oxymoron to be sure, but isn't that the true hallmark of a master?), I would have believed it. It gave me a whole new hope for American perfumery. How does this happen?!
 
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Birdboy48

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 10, 2011
I suspect it has to do with who sets forth the nominations, and who those people happen to mingle with.

Maybe , as a perfume maker, if you don't have a booth at the frag shows, you never make the connections you need in order to be noticed by "the right people".

It's also possible that Slumberhouse is not an IFRA member, and that his ( and some other indies) things don't conform the the EU regs, and thus can't be sold there.
 
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Beranium Chotato

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2011
I suspect it has to do with who sets forth the nominations, and who those people happen to mingle with.

Maybe , as a perfume maker, if you don't have a booth at the frag shows, you never make the connections you need in order to be noticed by "the right people".

I'm sure that does figure into it--in particular maybe whether the perfumer is willing to play the game. But I spent some time at fragrance shows this year, and even though there was no booth, everyone was talking about Pear+Olive and Mito. There really was no escaping the buzz surrounding some of those releases, and the end-of-year wrap-ups all reflected it.

Even though this is a total rant, it comes from the optimist in me (or idealist perhaps) who thinks that an award should be given on merit and not based on....I don't even know what this is. It would be pretty funny if the nominees overlapped substantially with people active in the Fragrance Foundation. Which I suppose is fine, but let's not pretend this an industry award.
 

Beranium Chotato

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2011
Politics bro.

Yes, I'm sure you're right. I think it will be the FF that loses in the end though because, short of producing this list, the only thing they could do to look worse would be to plaster a 50' foot banner outside their office that says WE'RE IRRELEVANT.

No, actually, this list is worse.

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It is definitely time for the bloggers to band together and create their own award. Something with integrity and credibility. You've got my attention, bloggers. Do it!
 

Birdboy48

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 10, 2011
Bloggers could do the nominating, one of the decanting services could put together sample sets, and "actual consumers" could do the voting.
 

Birdboy48

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 10, 2011
Yep, it would seem that the nominating process is where the issue is.

And perhaps the thing about some indie frags not being EU compliant.

Too much "outsiderisum" might be seen as disqualifying certain houses.
 

Beranium Chotato

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2011
The following conversation with a person from the world of fragrance journalism whom I respect. I removed his name since this was had in a private Facebook group.

Name Removed OK, time out - here's the big secret - first of all, The Fragrance Foundation considers ANYONE who submits their fragrance for consideration to be a "Nominee." And it is up to the fragrance company to submit their own fragrances for consideration. If you don't submit, then you cannot be considered. Then, from the list of "nominees," there are 5 fragrances chosen, and these are called "Finalists." And it is the "Finalists" who are the true nominees, in the sense of the word. But the Fragrance Foundation's classification of nominee and finalist is not heavily defined. So - don't be appalled. Because if your favorite 2012 release isn't on the list, it's because the company couldn't be bothered to submit it. And don't get too congratulatory yet if someone tells you they are a nominee - it's not that hard. It just means they filled out their paperwork and wrote out a check before the deadline.
28 minutes ago · Like · 1

Brian Chambers You mean submit with a $400 check and a one day deadline?
27 minutes ago · Like

Name Removed They had more than a day. I know companies that were working on it for months.
26 minutes ago · Like

Brian Chambers If you are going to recognize artistry in fragrance, you have to consider perfumers as artists. They are not necessarily people who will nominate themselves. If you expect big check and self-nominations, you should make the award for most ambitious perfumer with deep pockets.
26 minutes ago · Like

Name Removed But yes, submitting the check, and submitting samples/bottles for distribution amongst the judges is the key."
26 minutes ago · Like

Brian Chambers Slumberhouse received an entry form on 12/12 for a due date of 12/14.
26 minutes ago · Like

Name Removed You're assuming the Fragrance Foundation functions like a big, well-oiled machine. In fact, they've scaled down to the point where it's amazing that they're still in existence.
25 minutes ago · Like

Brian Chambers I doubt Vero Kern or Christopher Brosius would ever nominate themselves either. This type of nomination process is self-selecting.
24 minutes ago · Like

Brian Chambers It doesn't matter how big or small they are. That is a terrible nomination process. It short-changes the artists who are not self-submitters and it discredits the ones who are because they don't get to compete against the fragrances that everyone knows should be on that list.
23 minutes ago · Like

Name Removed Yes, but it's no different than many awards. If you as a television actor want to win an Emmy, you first have to select an episode of yours to submit to be considered.
22 minutes ago · Like

Brian Chambers $400 per fragrance is a ridiculous entry fee, too. I understand the importance of entry fees as my partner is a writer. I don't think even the Pulitzer has a $400 fee. That's absurd. Comparing television actors (whose episodes are submitted by studios) to artisanal perfumers who in some cases may not be good business people btw is not valid.
20 minutes ago · Like

Brian Chambers I'm not saying the FF is bad or not well-intentioned. I actually believe that they are trying to do something good. But this is a wreck. That list should not be so completely, utterly, massively disconnected from the criticism in the blogosphere.
17 minutes ago · Like

Brian Chambers That gap is too big.
17 minutes ago · Like
 

firehorse

Basenotes Junkie
Oct 21, 2010
Oh c'mon, it breaks the heart of My Little Pony to see how obvious Strawberry Passion deserves to be in held in a much higher regard above the likes of Vero Kern and Slumberhouse. It's obvious to anyone who has a nose, that Strawberry Passion is way more creative than Vero Kern's Mito. It takes the cajones of a 4000 pound giant chipmonk to be so bold as to even consider naming a fragrance Strawberry Passion, now that's avant guarde! And have you tried the Noir Extreme Intense extract of Strawberry Passion??? And who god's pink earth wants to smell like a smouldering stinky vetiver when you can smell like: Strawberry Passion!
 

mr. reasonable

Basenotes Dependent
Jan 1, 2009
Strawberry Passion rocks!

I imagine a bottle of your nominated perfume sent to the judges would help get it some attention. Slumberhouse needs to employ a good Public Relations team. Lobbyists - that's how the world goes round these days, right? Hidden persuader men :)

Music and advertising awards have been part of my life here for a couple of decades - essentially a joke. Everyone knows it but most people play the game . . .
 

firehorse

Basenotes Junkie
Oct 21, 2010
In all seriousness, I'm still in shock over this. FiFi sounds like a pitiful pathetic organization with zero integrity. So let me get this straight: the way you win is to nominate yourself, and the way you decide who wins is to nominate yourself onto the voting selection committee. Is that how it works?

Who is FiFi, it sounds like its run by a couple of broke losers trying to cash in, kind of like the crack pot conmen that start fake charities after a disaster.

They sound so rinky dink, and corrupt. Like its the fragrance equivelent of pay to play, corrupt as payola. Which means that any artist who has enough class to not vote for themselves is not even in the system. Which then means middling fragrances at best make it into their categories, or those who just feel like throwing money to the losers who run FiFi.
 

Beranium Chotato

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2011
Victoria over on EauMG makes the excellent point that many of those listed releases don't even have a perfumer's name attached to them.

I think there is a fundamental flaw in a system that lumps together in one category Givaudan and Smell Bent. If that's not a giant WTF I don't know what is. I think many of the issues about the category, the nomination process, and the list of nominees can be traced back to the category not having any coherence. E.g., $400 probably seems like a perfectly good entry fee for Givaudan. But to many other worthy scentmakers, that is nothing more than a red flag that this whole thing is bunk.
 

firehorse

Basenotes Junkie
Oct 21, 2010
The whole thing sounds cracky. "Emerging" perfumers should not be lumped in with big corporations. Self nomination is as bad as the Koch brothers or the NRA buying off congress. And Pay to Play sounds like its set up for for the conmen running FiFi than for the industry, the perfumers, or the consumers.


Victoria over on EauMG makes the excellent point that many of those listed releases don't even have a perfumer's name attached to them.

I think there is a fundamental flaw in a system that lumps together in one category Givaudan and Smell Bent. If that's not a giant WTF I don't know what is. I think many of the issues about the category, the nomination process, and the list of nominees can be traced back to the category not having any coherence. E.g., $400 probably seems like a perfectly good entry fee for Givaudan. But to many other worthy scentmakers, that is nothing more than a red flag that this whole thing is bunk.
 

Beranium Chotato

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2011
In all seriousness, I'm still in shock over this. FiFi sounds like a pitiful pathetic organization with zero integrity. So let me get this straight: the way you win is to nominate yourself, and the way you decide who wins is to nominate yourself onto the voting selection committee. Is that how it works?.

You do have to nominate yourself, and that's a complicated subject. Many prestigious literary awards are given via a process of self-submission. So why do those awards attract (mostly) an appropriately broad range of writers and the Fifi Indie has failed? I think they should be asking themselves that.

I would begin with:

1. Sending out a submission form requiring a one day turnaround time and $400 per fragrance (plus two bottles of each fragrance) gives the impression that the award does not have integrity.
2. Perfumers with integrity do not want to be associated with an award that does not have integrity. It's goes against much of what they believe and represent.
3. This is a relatively new category from an award that is known historically for recognizing achievement in large-scale corporate offerings. There is a very bad fundamental assumption that indie perfumers would even WANT to self-nominate until the award and category have some credibility in their world. The Fifi Indie hasn't earned that yet, and it can't unless it designs a process that caters somewhat to the other model.
4. The ill-defined category has got to be off-putting. They created two groups, indie and artisanal, but it appears that those are getting judged together. Thus the ridiculously overbroad nominee list.

Self-nomination is part of the problem but not all of it. I think if the more fundamental problems were addressed, self-nomination might eventually work. The issue is that this award has basically totally discredited itself before it will ever be given that chance.
 

firehorse

Basenotes Junkie
Oct 21, 2010
I think the problem then is in "nominating" verses "submitting" or "applying." The process needs to broken down, and the integrity needs to step way up.

In the world where I work, emerging artists/designer "apply" to jury and peer reviewed shows. The application fee to apply is around $35. So the $ risk is low and to get accepted is a prestige.

Then once you are in the show, you are judged in different categories and the awards are given out.

Also, emerging artists are given a one time discounted amount to participate.

FiFi's process seems to have no credibility or standards. It's a joke.
 
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Beranium Chotato

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 13, 2011
There used to be a time when an organization like the FF could grant awards like this, and I'm sure everyone just went along. If it appeared to make no sense, people's insecurity has a funny way of making them think that perhaps they have poor taste and not the award granters. But an interesting thing is possible in 2013. Even though perfume blogging is far from perfect, it is quite simple to do a bit of back-of-the-napkin aggregation and get a real sense of what is resonating with critics and what's not. The absolutely perplexing thing is the number of scents that are repeated over and over in the "best of" lists that don't even qualify for a nomination in the FiFi world.

Have a look for yourself...

[Blough/CFB]
1. Chypre Palatin
2. Seven Veils

[Reasinger/CFB]
1. Myrrhe et Delires
2. I Love NY Marriage Equality
3. Interlude Man
4. Forbidden
5. Casbah
Ares EDP
Pear + Olive
Far Away Exotic
Volutes EDP
Aqua Rush

[Vitale/CFB]
1. Aedes de Venustas EDP

[Devine/CFB]
1. Pear + Olive
2. Black Saffron
Fields of Rubus
Aedes de Venustas
Mamluk

[Sternberg/CFB]
1. Spicebomb
Shanghai
L'Heure de Nuit
Pear + Olive
Whips and Roses

[Nero Profumo]
Songe d'Un Bois d'Eté
Encens mythique D'Orient
La Petite Robe Noire
Mito
Zafar
Ramon Monegal (various)
Trayee
Mohur
Anima Dulcis
TAWAF
Laurhum
JMT
Linfedele Haiku

[EauMG]
Pear + Olive
Eau Sauvage Parfum
Ramon Monegal (various)
Neela Vermeire (various)
Hint of Honeysuckle
Scent of Departure (line)
Von Euserdorff (line)

[Victoria/Bois de Jasmin]
Boutonnière No. 7
Fils de Dieu
Lumieère Blanche
Jour d'Hermès
Séville à l'Aube
Une Voix Noire
Tom Ford Noir
Spicebomb
Mito

[Suzanna/Bois de Jasmin]
La Vie en Rose
Mon Patchouly
Sepia
Aedes de Venustas

[Grain de Musc]
L'Eau de Chloë
Mito
Boutonnière No. 7
Perle de Mousse
Lumière Blanche
Blanc de Courrèges
Infusion d'Iris AbsoluteMusc Tonkin

[PP/Portia]
Mohur
Un Jour d'Eté
Pear + Olive

[PP/Tom]
Mito

[PP/Patty]
Musc Tonkin
Seville à l'Aube
Naomi Goodsir, Neela Vermeire, Ann Gerard (new lines)
Orangers en Fleurs
Les Deserts d'Orient
7 Billion Hearts
Amouage (line)

[PP/Musette]
Interlude Woman
Luberon
L'Ambre de Merveilles
Seville à l'Aube
Ences Mythique d'Orient

[Behnke/CFB]
1. Musc Tonkin
2. Pear + Olive
3. Interlude Woman
4. Lumière Blanche
5. Fils de Dieu
Liquidnight
What we Do In Paris Is Secret
Aedes de Venustas EDP
Opus VI, Beloved, Interlude Man
Boutonnière No. 7
Ambre Nue, Rose Anonyme, Vetiver Fatal
Bullion
Rima XI
7 Billion Hearts
YSL Retrospective Collection
Hothouse Flower
Stilettos on Lex
Turtle Vetiver Front
MFK Oud
Memo Luxor Oud
Ylang in Gold
Chypre Palatin
Moss Gown
Passerelle
Lightscape

Mito and Aedes de Venustas EDP appear 4 times in those lists. Pear+Olive appears 5 times! Either something has gone terribly wrong with the noses of our most respected bloggers or something is very, very broken about that nominee list.
 
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Fleurine

Basenotes Dependent
Apr 14, 2011
Thanks for keeping the good stuff on the radar, Brian. As usual a very thought provoking post. And thanks to all the contributors!
 

Birdboy48

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 10, 2011
I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but it seems to me to be misrepresentation when the FIFI awards are called "Best of the Year", when really they are only the best of the things which happened to be submitted.

I know when I first heard of these awards, I assumed that they were an "industry wide" sort of thing, when really they are not that at all.
 

Irina

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 17, 2008
To understand the FiFi Awards it might be helpful to read a bit more about who is behind it: The Fragrance Foundation:
http://www.fragrance.org/about-us.php and their timeline http://www.fragrance.org/timeline.php

This is a non-profit foundation, sponsored by the industry that also created the Sense of Smell Institute, also non-profit but sponsored. They used to have much more money and 'power' but now they are merely supporting a website and pay a few people that are trying to keep it alive or people that do this as a favor. The appliance fee probably just barely pays for the man hours of the few involved in actually processing the applications.

Also this is an US Foundation so it has nothing to do with the EU. Most artisans listed are US based and don't have to comply with EU regs unless they are selling to the EU (and even then, they mostly don't comply).

It's actually pretty random and unorganized these days.

But I think it's cool that some artisan perfumers can afford the $400, means that business is going well for them, right?
 

firehorse

Basenotes Junkie
Oct 21, 2010
Sounds like they have no business model to work from, no employees, and they can't even afford interns. What's their next plan? Bake sales and car washes?

It's really starting to seem that people in the know wouldn't self nominate because they wouldn't want their own brand tainted by being associated with such a rinky dink organization that gives out meaningless paid for awards.
 
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Irina

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 17, 2008
Sounds like they have no business model to work from, no employees, and they can't even afford interns. What's their next plan? Bake sales and car washes?

It's really starting to seem that people in the know wouldn't self nominate because they wouldn't want their own brand tainted by being associated with such a rinky dink organization that gives out meaningless paid for awards.

I wouldn't put is as bluntly as that. They are one of the first non-profit foundations of the fragrance industry (established in the 50's) and had a much bigger task and more money. They used to give out scholarships and other prestigious awards.
But times have changed and money are tight.
I think for most small artisan indie perfumers $400 is still a huge gamble fee for advertising.

The award event itself is quite posh and tickets begin at $3000 a plate. It has the 'air' of one of those exclusive celebrities charity events.

You can google images on 'fifi awards 2012' and see for yourself.
 

Smelly Beast

Super Member
May 22, 2011
Brian, to tell you the truth I think this award are fake...

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Brian, to tell you the truth I think this award are fake...
 

Birdboy48

Basenotes Dependent
Jul 10, 2011
I think the problem then is in "nominating", verses "submitting" or "applying." .

I agree.

It would seem that the makers of these frags "applied" and paid a cash entry fee to get into the running.

This is much different than being "nominated" by a group of knowedgable experts.

As a lay person, when I see a list of "nominees" I automatically assume that they were chosen by parties without a vested interest, who selected them from the full range of possible winners, as based upon their own personal knowledge of their worthiness.

Whereas this process is much more like a contest, wherein the winners are chosen from a limited group of "artist's paid submissions" instead.

Basically the list needs to be labeled as "submissions'. Calling them "nominees" seems to be purposely misleading.
 

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