Friday, May 27, 2011

The 2011 FiFi Awards Shows: Comedy Gold

This year, as most, I didn’t pay much attention to the Fragrance Foundation’s annual FiFi Awards show. Back in the day, I would don the striped pants and Brooks Bros. cummerbund and go in person, largely for the pre-show industry power-schmoozing at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. It was fun to catch up with all my French colleagues chain-smoking out on the balcony overlooking the fountain. But those days are gone. And not just the outdoor smoking. The post-show dinner used to be held in a tent in adjacent Damrosch Park; now that’s the venue for the entire show. The experience is a little less . . . grand.

However, since my friend Mandy Aftel had three creations in the running for the Indie Brand award, I checked The Fragrance Foundation’s website for a list of the winners. Here’s what I found 24 hours after the awards ceremony:


I looked around for more news, but found mostly celebrity sites and 300,000 pictures of Fergie who won New Fragrance Celebrity of the Year. This drew an unkind comment over on
Most Likely to Own a Food Chain Restaurant
Submitted by mannequin (not verified) on Thu, 2011-05-26 06:20.

Fragrance Celebrity of the Year Award? Please. It’s like elementary school where they think up mindless meaningless awards for each student, no matter how untalented, just so no one gets their feelings hurt. Actors and actors should get acting awards, period.
C’mon, Mannequin, don’t be a hater!

Eventually I found this morning’s New York Post story headlined “Unwelcome Scent”:
A bad smell of smoke plunged the Fragrance Foundation’s 2011 FiFi Awards into the dark when Lincoln Center officials turned off the power -- leaving Fergie, Halle Berry, Tom Ford, Mary J. Blige, Desiree Rogers and beauty executives shuffling in their seats.
Uh oh!

And that wasn’t all:
Paz de la Huerta [of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire] couldn’t announce one winner because there was no name in the envelope, leaving her looking confused at the podium.
Whaaat the . . . ?

I dug around a little more and saw that Basenotes had run the whole ceremony in real time with a LiveStream feed, and sponsored Twitter commentary by PinkManhattan’s Sali Oguri.

The video is still there, so I poured a double martini and hit play. I’m so glad I did—it’s pure comedy gold. Start with the first five minutes in which FF president Rochelle Bloom takes the stage and attempts to hush the unruly tent-full of power schmoozers and super-excited Celebrities of the Year. She fails and throws a mini hissy fit, all recorded with excellent audio. All the while a red spray behind her skull made me think I was witnessing the lost head-shot frame from the Zapruder film. But no, it’s not brain splatter, it’s Ms. Bloom’s hat thingy.

If you are an awards show masochist you can watch the entire event—all 2 hours, 14 minutes of tedium, complete with cheesy PowerPoint slides. If you just want the funny bits, check out Kate Walsh presenting in the dark (starts at 14:15) and Paz de la Huerta’s empty envelope (starting at 49:20).



Persolaise said...

Oh dear. I see the award choices weren't the evening's only laughable aspect.

mandy said...

Dear Avery,

Thank you for this article. I wish you had been there so we could laughed together like old times.
Just back from NYC but will call soon.

Avery Gilbert said...


What's truly hilarious is the ticket price: $1,500.

Avery Gilbert said...


Time to escape from New York. Let's do tapas at César when I hit Berkeley.

mandy said...

Let's do it!! when will you be here? can't wait

NathanBranch said...

It was beyond painful to watch the celebrities hog the stage and scream into the microphone (with Halle Berry laboring under the impression that repeatedly yelling "sh*t" in French is classy).

It reminded me of Ricky Gervais stating that the only reason "The Tourist" was nominated for a Golden Globe was so the Hollywood Foreign Press could rub up against Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

maria said...

hi mandy and avery, you make for some of my most favorite reading... happy to catch you both here...hi,hi.. makes me feel...almost in the scent/olfaction heaven...
agree to all comments, this is the marketing selling their products, not the perfumers.... i guess the battle is who has more cash to make more noise?
well, do not worry, we still are a few of us that appreciate your work, the real thing...
mee...? bombarding my nose with the little box from mandy... and got caught up in understanding the similarity and difference between the coriander( not your coriander mandy) and neroli absolute ( again, unfortunately not yours)...
greetings to all, and a lot of love and respect to you and your work....
mandy, biiig congratulations for fifi...!!!!

Persolaise said...

Wow! That's one hysterical price tag! The UK ceremony is MUCH cheaper in comparison... although perhaps that's not something that should be advertised...

Avery Gilbert said...

Nathan Branch:

Wait. You mean for $1,500 I could have rubbed up against Halle Berry? Bargain!

As for the whole merde thing, maybe it was just her way of getting back at her introducer, Coty's Berndt Beetz, for repeatedly mispronouncing her name.

And he didn't stop there: he also referred to Rochelle Bloom as Michelle Bloom (at 1:34). Like Rodney Dangerfield, she just can't get no respect . . .

Avery Gilbert said...


Hey, if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford to be scolded by Rochelle Bloom.