The UK FiFis came and went in a fizz of pink champagne and several semi-embarrassed murmurs of "Who's Kim Kardashian?" Personally, I was disappointed that nobody informed me that Ms Kardashian's date for the evening - a gentleman who looked remarkably like Kanye West - was Kanye West. Had I known his true identity - not that he was hiding it! - I would've taken the opportunity to tell him how much I enjoy his music (I still say Love Lockdown is one of the most powerful tracks of recent years) but I rarely read gossip mags, so I was utterly unaware of the fact that Kim and Kanye are currently canoodling.
As for the awards themselves, well, what can I say? I've always tried to champion the cause of independent, honest criticism, so it would be hypocritical of me to express dissatisfaction with some of the choices whilst giving a thumbs up to others. After all, if I'm entitled to my own views, then so are the members of the various FiFi voting panels and committees. I was extremely pleased that in the category for which I was a jurist, the FiFi went to Angela Flanders for her distinctive, unearthly Precious One. I was also thrilled that my very own editor at Esprit Magazine, Lorraine-Wilson Morris, was given a special commendation FiFi for her contributions to the industry. And it was heart-warming to see the charity work of the late Evelyn Lauder being celebrated in a special film which included contributions from Jo Fairley and the husky-voiced Sophia Grojsman, who stated that without Lauder's determination, we would never have had Pleasures and Beautiful.
Taken as a night out, the evening couldn't have been more enjoyable: the bling-o-meter was cranked up to 11, the food was superb (I can still taste the salted caramel ice cream) and the company was wonderful. Hats off to the aforementioned Wilson-Morris as well as Linda Key and Natalie Day for their hard work in making sure that everything ran smoothly. For future reference, I can heartily recommend spending such outings in close proximity to native French speakers. Their no-holds-barred, sports commentator-style assessments of the anglophones' attempts to pronounce Gallic perfume names were an especially wicked delight, not least when Cartier's Baiser Volé somehow got turned into Baiser Voile.
As the party drew to a close, I found myself pondering the words of the opening speech from the Chairman of Fragrance Foundation UK, Peter Norman, in which he said that the retail sector hadn't experienced an especially lucrative period in 2011. I'm sure the wider significance of his statement wasn't lost on most of the people in the audience: this year's FiFi ceremony took place in the heart of London's financial district, and there was a distinct sense of apprehension in the air about whether certain European systems - and, by extension, certain pillars of financial and societal structures - would still be in place by the end of next week, let alone next year. But of course, no-one aired such thoughts. The wine just kept flowing, the sequins kept sparkling and lots of sly fingers kept reaching for the petit fours. What else is there to do when everything's crumbling around you?