Monday, 20 May 2013

Buttons, Dots And A Whole Load Of Gatsby Dresses - London's FiFi Awards Ceremony

My FiFi evening began with a wardrobe malfunction. Just as Madame Persolaise and I were about to step onto the red carpet at the entrance to London's Brewery, I felt a gentle pop in the region of my midriff. My gaze fell to the ground. I saw a small, black button bounce along the cobble stones. Gaping wide open, my dinner jacket now displayed a few untidy strands of thread in the space which had only just been occupied by the wayward button. Madame P and I gave each other a worried glance, turned around and walked back out.

Thankfully, she kicked into pragmatic mode faster than I did. "There must be a hotel around here somewhere," she said, surveying the cluster of tower blocks. "We could ask them if they'd let us have one of their little sewing kits."

We walked a few paces, hoping a Hilton or Marriott or even a Travelodge would pop out at us. We turned the corner and were met by two signs. The first one read 'Barbican Theatre'. And the second, smaller one bore the words 'Stage Door'. We looked at each other again and realised we were both thinking the same thing: wardrobe department!

We explained our predicament to the man at the Reception desk and he leapt into action. Although the staff from the costume section had already closed up and gone home for the day, he offered to go through any equipment they might have left lying around to see if he could find something that might be of help to us. His valiant search resulted in some dark brown thread and a thick darning needle. Without further delay, Madame Persolaise sat down and got sewing.

A few minutes later, we were back on the red carpet, with my torso firmly buttoned up. Many, many thanks to the kind chap at Reception! And of course to Madame Persolaise for her stitching skills.

But you don't want to know about my sartorial struggles. The ceremony itself was as glamorous as it was boisterous. Unsurprisingly, the look of the evening turned out to be 'Gatsby lite': a scattering of sequins, feathers and pearls punctuated many of the outfits. The food was great (I'm looking forward to using my ice cream maker to try to re-create the incredible celery sorbet). And Natasha Kaplinsky made a genial compere, not least when she tried to get the rowdier elements to quieten down.

As for the actual awards... well, as I've said before, if I exercise the right to speak my mind when it comes to fragrance criticism, then I must allow other people to speak theirs, so I won't comment on the fact that Marc Jacobs' Dot was declared the best feminine scent of 2012. I was very pleased that the winners of the two categories in which I was a judge turned out to be the very scents I'd been rooting for: Tom Ford Noir in the case of Perfume Extraordinaire and Francis Kurkdjian's Oud for Best New Independent Fragrance. La Petite Robe Noire rightly won the Best Female Commercial prize (as well as the Ultimate Launch award, for which all the attendees cast votes on the night; the Guerlain contingent let out a collective yelp of joy when this was announced). And it was great to see Liz Earle's Botanical Essence No 15 receiving recognition too, in the People's Choice For Women category.

The Hall Of Fame was conspicuous by its absence. Some of you may recall that last year, Mugler's Angel was inducted into the Hall as its first occupant. For some reason, the organisers saw fit to scrap the category this year. Personally, I hope they reinstate it in 2014, not least because poor Angel might get lonely. And if no-one else joins it, we might have to re-name the prize the Broom-Cupboard Of Fame, which doesn't have quite the same ring to it. You'll find the full list of this year's winners below (links are to my own reviews, except in the Commercial categories, where they're to the advertisements themselves).

Congratulations to everyone who picked up a prize. And many thanks to Linda Key and her team for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Oh, and in case you're wondering: the button stayed on all night!


FiFi UK Awards - 16th May 2013 - Winners
Best New Female Print Advertisement - Jaipur Bracelet - Boucheron
Best New Male Print Advertisement - Kokorico - Jean-Paul Gaultier
Best New Female Fragrance Commercial - La Petite Robe Noire - Guerlain
Best New Male Fragrance Commercial - Kokorico - Jean-Paul Gaultier
Best New Female Fragrance Design & Packaging - Florabotanica - Balenciaga
Best New Male Fragrance Design & Packaging - Hommage A L’Homme - Lalique
Best New Home Fragrance - Amber Aoud bougie parfumée - Roja Parfums
Best New Female Fragrance in Limited Distribution - Café Rose - Tom Ford
Best New Male Fragrance in Limited Distribution - Amazingreen - Comme Des Garcons
Best New Independent Fragrance - Oud - Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Perfume Extraordinaire - Givaudan - Noir - Tom Ford
The Readers’ Choice Award For Women - Dot - Marc Jacobs
The Readers’ Choice Award for Men - Spicebomb - Viktor & Rolf
Best New Celebrity Fragrance - True Reflection - Kim Kardashian
People’s Choice Award for Women - Botanical Essence No 15 - Liz Earle
People’s Choice Award for Men - Spicebomb - Viktor & Rolf
Retailer of The Year - Harrods
Best New Fragrance for Men - Spicebomb - Viktor & Rolf
Best New Fragrance for Women - Dot - Marc Jacobs
Ultimate Launch - La Petite Robe Noire - Guerlain


  1. Very well done to your wife for saving the day.
    Angie Cox .

  2. ... oh this is really, really sad - and frightening. Never the less I really DO like your fight for all the good stuff.

    1. Tim, which part(s) did you find particularly frightening?

    2. Dear P.
      sorry, I`m a bit late. Thank you for asking. And sorry for not telling more details. Well, it`s just like the music and film charts: I wished the decision would habe been a little more focused on the artistic point of view. (Hell, I whish my English would be better ...:-) Now we have - with few exceptions - quite a lot of boring, technically uninteresting megasellers as the winners. And most of the judge knows this, I suppose. Now anyone who isn`t much into perfume and doesn`t read clever blogs will take his/her fashion magazine thinking THIS is the ultima ratio given by some "experts". I`m also sure that many, many fragrance lovers never ever will appreciate Dot, Kokorico, LPRN and even Amazing Green as "masterpieces". Finally I really like some (few) on the list, e.g. Lalique, MFK, and the Hall of Fame is partly superb. All is very, very subjective and I don`t want to sound arrogant. But I wished there would have been more love for the "real thing" - given that this is the price of the Fragrance Foundation". Your and Mme P`s backstage reporting was best of all. Really enjoyed it! Have a nice evening!

    3. Tim, thanks for the detailed explanation; your English seems fine to me ;-)

      I know what you mean, but to be fair to the Fragrance Foundation, they don't specify that the FiFis are a marker of artistic achievement. There's a definite corporate slant to the awards, and I guess this is reflected in the list of winners.

      Oh, and I don't think you sound arrogant at all :-)

  3. hotlanta linda21 May 2013 at 17:51

    As the movie music goes - ``Pick yourself up // Dust yourself off // And start all over again!`` Hugs to your bride, and a high-five to the theatre fellow!! :-) I just sent your perfume book to a dear friend - and she loves it!! :-) :-)

    1. Linda, thank you so much, I really appreciate the support. And I'm glad your friend enjoyed my book.


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