Image courtesy Elements Showcase
Risk-taking, experimental, and convivial, Elements Showcase managed to capture, yet again, the American niche fragrance spirit in a wintry New York last week.
In a new twist, this 7th edition of Elements was skillfully ‘curated’ (current NYC IT word) by co-founders Frederick Bouchardy, Jeff Lawson, and Ulrich Lang in such a way as to expand the fragrance and design show concept to include 6 new ‘out of field’ categories which explore ‘The Academy of the Secrets of Nature’.
In addition to fragrance (Gold), there is ‘Home’ (Copper), ‘Cosmetics’ (Silver), Men’s Grooming’ (Lead), ‘Wellness’ (Tin), Accessories – tools, implements, and jewelry (Iron), and Apothecary — skincare, bath & body (Mercury). Thus, the show’s ‘Seven Metals of Antiquity’ theme.
As Frederic explained, “Alchemy, more than transforming poor metals into precious metals, is about a secret form of communication. That’s what we are tapping into with a growing and evolving Elements. While maintaining our elemental integrity of design, creativity, and fragrance, the introduction of these new categories allows us to offer a more dynamic and interesting show.”
Alchemy indeed! Starting with the vernissage party on a snowy Tuesday night where the ‘Ladies’ room became an inpromptu staging ground for shedding shearlings and snow boots for dresses and heels, many a happy and serendipitous assemblage took place. It was here that I ran into Saskia Havekes, Australian florist turned fragrance brand owner of Grandiflora www.grandiflora.net. Saskia’s stand, not surprisingly overflowing with flowering bowers, was also overflowing with visitors. Already a hot item on the Paris market (currently available at Colette), Saskia’s integration on the US niche scene will surely be swift and thorough. With two beautiful fragrances on a Magnolia soliflore theme, ‘Magnolia Grandiflora-Sandrine’ by Sandrine Videault, and ‘Magnolia Grandiflora-Michel’ by Michel Roudnitska, Saskia is clearly as talented at working with perfumers as she is with flowers.
Another favorite for me was British brand, Illuminum, with an array of eau de parfum fragrances in 40%, 30% and 15% concentrations. http://www.illuminumfragrance.com . Launched in January 2011, Illuminum is currently available in the US exclusively at Henri Bendel, where lovely and heady ‘White Gardenia Petals’(15%), a favorite of Kate Middleton, is a top seller.
Zoran Knezevic and Elena Knezhevich’s Vagabond Prince ‘Enchanted Forest’ drew a constant crowd at the show and is still a strong presence on the American niche market after its ground-breaking launch in 2012 as the first fragrance built around a blackcurrant note (perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour), and Elena Knezhevich’s delicate artwork in the Slavic tradition.
Better know as Uli to his friends (just about everybody I met at Elements), Ulrich Lang is both co-founder of Elements and owner of the fragrance brand, Ulrich Lang New York. Connoisseur of fragrances and fine photography, and a people person par excellence, Uli and his stand were hubs of activity as visitors gathered to chat, make contacts, sample a first sniff of newest launch ‘Aperture’, or re-visit favorites ‘Lightscape’, ‘Nightscape’, ‘Anvers’ and ‘Anvers 2 ’, all inspired by photographs.
The brand, Pour Le Monde, natural and organic everything, is “incredibly sincere, sincerely altruistic”, and apparently only one of two US companies with fragrances certified by the Natural Products Association. Of equally importance, Pour Le Monde has three beautiful and inspiring scents: ‘Envision’, ‘Together’, and ‘Empower’. Founder Wendi Berger, cut her teeth at Revlon then Vanity Fair, In Style, and ELLE, before founding Pour Le Monde in response to a personal challenge of finding a pregnancy safe perfume.
Designer Anastasia Sokolow’s fragrance brand Suleko is inspired by Russian folk tales and the four seasons, and her juices are the creations of young and extraordinarily talented independent perfumer, Cécile Zarokian (creator of fragrances for Amouage, Jovoy Paris, Majda Bekkali, and MDCI , to name a few). An exquisitely crafted and storied collection with (refillable) bottles housed in original artwork, Suleko is currently marketed through direct sales in private workshops in Paris. It will be interesting to see how Suleko evolves in the US.
Disarmingly charming, Lauren Fritsch, founder of Let Them Wear Green told me a story straight from the heart of American niche. Growing up, Lauren endured her older brothers’ merciless teasing about her tastes in perfume until the day she began creating her own fragrances. In a total about-face, her former tormentors broke down and encouraged her to follow her new path. Working entirely with organic essential oils and flower essences, Lauren’s first and only creation, ‘Adalene’, named for her maternal grandmother, is a rich and earthy floral in the form of an essential oil stick that can be layered with a liquid essential oil of the same accords.
The presence of the other ‘elemental’ categories added dynamism and complementary energy to the event. Although my focus was on fragrances, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of my favorites. ‘Hairbond’ in the Grooming and Shaving category from, guess where, ‘Land of Hair and Glory’, will surely find its place in this growing niche of niche; ditto for Ray Simons of Amsterdam; The Jane Scrivner Natural Skincare range with many great brands, began as a fragrance brand; and amazing jewelry from Adornia, Bliss Lau and Michael Miller of K/LLER collection.”
I should also add that with the creation of Elements Dubai in May of last year, The Elements Showcase has now gone international, and the Second Edition of Elements Dubai will take place May 27-29, 2014 at Beautyworld Middle East, in the International Convention and Exhibition Centre.