Monday, August 22, 2011

Keynote Speaker for Fall 2011 IFRA Luncheon

A big thank to Glass Petal Smoke's followers on Twitter! I appreciate your collective patience and am now permitted to let the proverbial cat out of the bag regarding the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) speaking engagement I hinted at a few weeks earlier.

On Friday, October 21st I'll be giving a keynote speech at the IFRA Fall Luncheon. Everyone, including yours truly, has an opinion about fragrance regulation, but that is not the only thing at stake when it comes to the future of perfumery.

The industry has entered a new phase of communication with consumers that requires authentic narrative management. Companies can't afford to be vertical neutral in a transparent medium like the Internet where access to information and its organic interpretation shapes brands and influences product development. Social media is terrific catalyst for meaningful conversation, but the industry is still struggling with strategies of engagement. Fragrance companies don't have to re-invent the wheel to figure out how to get the conversation going, but they do have to make a commitment to getting the job done.

Education is the best place to begin and perfumers must be included. I shared this point of view when I wrote "Exposing the Perfumer" for Perfumer & Flavorist in 2007. Four years later much of what was predicted in the article has come to pass. All one has to do is look at blogs like Carrie Meredith's Eyeliner on a Cat which recently announced a series based on interviews with indie perfumers.

The catalyst for this type of insider profiling was ignited by Nathan Branch who upped the ante by encouraging dialogue between indie perfumers in his "Letter to a Fellow Perfumer" posts. The Aftelier fine fragrance Haute Claire was created by Mandy Aftel while Liz Zorn created her own perfume in parallel. The result of these conversations produced a missive-styled living perfume brief in four installments that can still be seen by all.

Aftel is no stranger to inspiration; she has been a muse for the craft of natural perfumery and raised an army of fragrance fanatics after publishing Essence and Alchemy in 2001. Her timing coincided with the growth of the Internet. Evidence of her reverence as creatrix in the blogosphere is reflected in recent digital interactions with Victoria Frolova of Bois de Jasmin.

How will the Internet and social media shape the future of perfumery? In honor of Oscar, the gorgeous hunk of feline who graces this post, all I can say is "meow" for now. That cat is in the bag until October 21st.

Oscar was photographed by Robert W. Howington. The photograph is licensed under Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.

Liz Zorn's Tumblr is one of Glass Petal Smoke's favorite reads. It is an archetypical revelation of the spirit of "the artist" and a medium the industry should consider embracing. Zorn expresses herself beautifully and her recent statement on the oft misinformed naturals vs. synthetic debate shows a level of soulful maturity. This quote, from a recent post, embodies her essence: "As a perfumer, I must say that I rarely wear perfume for the pleasure of it, as I am always smelling like the workroom. But when I do wear perfume, I apply it to my skin as if it were solid gold. I settle my mind and become present, in the moment, so that I can fully enjoy what is happening. I never want to get to a point in my life where the superfluous external overshadows the sacred moment."

Mandy Aftel, Carrie Meredith and Victoria Frolova are members of The Fragrance Foundation's Indie Fragrance Committee.  The committee, which was formed in July 2011, is dedicated to developing recognition, understanding and appreciation of "Indie" fragrance brands and their creators.

Details regarding the time and place for the IFRA event can be found here.