I’m excited about the second round of the new fragrance trade show, Elements Showcase, next Monday and Tuesday here in New York. The first one, in January, was a revelation: unlike other trade shows, there was grid of aisles, nor the endless series of walled booths. I got to meet people from fragrance brands I’d been admiring (like Etat Libre d’Orange and Ulrich Lang), and I discovered some that were totally new to me (like Brooklyn’s D.S. & Durga, Paris-based Lubin, and San Francisco’s Ineke).
In January, Elements Showcase had about 35 exhibitors on one floor. Next week, there will be more than double that on two floors.
Another exciting thing for me is that there will be cocktail-related events there as well: On Monday, the 15th, Intertrade Europe will launch a set of four unisex fragrances called Blood Concept with a Bloody Mary cocktail reception at 11am. The next day at 4pm, Caron Paris will host a cocktail party to promote L’Accord Code 119, a new women’s fragrance, with cocktails from the Flatiron Lounge’s Ryan McGrale. The cocktails, which will be sponsored by Combier, Cognac Ferrand, and Louis Royer, will be inspired by the new fragrance. (I should also note that Caron released a new men’s scent this year, Yuzu Man, but it wasn’t scheduled to hit the US until fall. Let’s hope they show it off next week.)
I interviewed the three organizers of Elements Showcase, Frederick Bouchardy of Joya candles and fragrances, Ulrich Lang of Ulrich Lang New York fragrances, and event producer Jeff Lawson, via e-mail for MR Magazine, asking them about how and why they started the show. I’ll excerpt some of that here.
How did you three meet each other?
Ulrich Lang: Frederick and I met at the New York International Gift Show. We decided to meet for coffee a few weeks later. We both felt there was something missing in our industry, a “showcase” for the visionaries in fragrance design—established and emerging. I called my former colleague and friend, Jeffrey Lawson, who has his own production company, and we all quickly decided to make our plan a reality.
Jeff Lawson: I had been producing art fairs in the US and Europe for years and was looking to produce tradeshows in a new model that moved away from the traditional “booth” and “aisle” show. Uli was an old colleague of mine from our days working in the art business, and I knew he had created his own fine fragrance line. He and I began to talk about the idea of creating a showcase based on design and fragrance. We tossed this idea around for about a year and during that time he met Frederick. Within a month, the three of us had created the framework for what has become the Elements Showcase.
Frederick Bouchardy: I had been using trade shows worldwide to exhibit my fragrance brand and found the experience to be mostly fruitful—many of our key international distribution and relationships were formed this way. At the same time, none of these trade shows’ aesthetics were created in a way that felt “on brand.” It was always the same pipe and drape and fluorescent lighting, which I don’t think is the ideal way to showcase products that are largely experiential. I discussed this issue with many of my peers for about two years. They agreed but didn’t seem prepared to do anything about it. Then I met Uli and Jeff.
What made you decide to start a trade show for fragrances?
Jeff Lawson: I recognized that there was a strong need to break away from the traditional trade show model, especially for fragrance. I had visited various shows over the past few years, and it was clear to me that there was a real need for a showcase that could position and promote fragrance design in a way that made sense for both the exhibitor and the buyer. The market needed Elements. Our first Showcase was one floor at Skylight West, and we showcased about 35 brands. Our second showcase is two floors at the same location and features approximately 80 brands.
Frederick Bouchardy: The response from the first show was overwhelming. We knew we were on to something but couldn’t be sure until the doors opened that the world would see it the same way. Exhibitors were thrilled with the diverse, dynamic attendance, and visitors had a blast—many stayed all day or even came back for the second.
What does your typical exhibitor look like? Is it a niche brand?
Frederick Bouchardy: The process to exhibit is application only, which means that the Showcase is a curated and edited collection of the world’s best fragrance-related, designer products. That said, there is no “typical” exhibitor at Elements. Each one has its own strengths, differences and innovative approach. Oftentimes, the most inspiring brands in this field are the entrepreneurial, “niche” ones, but Elements is by no means designed to only highlight collections that are restricted to a small number of points of distribution.
Ulrich Lang: We had tremendous interest in this showcase not only among fragrance manufacturers (fine fragrance, home fragrance, bath and body) but also from companies in the skincare and men’s grooming fields. They complement our offering and often address the same (apothecary/beauty) buyer. We also have several brands that you could describe as “artisanal” participating.
Elements Showcase will be at Skylight West, 500 West 36th Street, New York NY 10018.