Fragrance is Who You Are
Celso Fadelli, founder, president and Fragrance Curator of Intertrade Group, tells us something about the brand new artistic project on stage at Pitti Fragranze by Unscent, the cultural platform of the Group, and the Dutch artist Toshy.
Tell us what started the art installation "Fragrance is Who You Are" ...
'Fragrance is Who You Are’ is an idea developed during an internal brainstorming session within our company's top management team. We wanted to create a unique concept installation for UNSCENT (the Intertrade Group cultural platform), that could capture the dynamism of Pitti's exceptional artistic perfumery showcase. The event will take place at Stazione Leopolda in the Alcatraz space, where we aim to consolidate the different brands that we represent in a clever way, guiding the visitors at an emotional level into a personal journey, and leave a lasting, comforting yet thought-provoking, visual sensation that merges images with olfactive inspirations.
Why did you think of the artist Toshy?
Toshy had previously worked with one of our team members on international projects. He was highly praised to us and came to Intertrade offering a broad global experience, lots of positive energy, an open mind, high levels of adaptability, initiative and creativity, and last but not least, a great passion for perfumes. All these qualities make him the perfect candidate to become our artistic partner.
How can a perfume be part of an individual?
I love humanity. Each individual has his/her own natural body/skin scent. Every individual is unique, with his/her own personal race and style. All the fragrances that a person likes, uses, and associates with, are unique to that person. So for instance, when smelling jasmine, we might think about how we look, when it may feel best to use it, what images it portrays, the associations it evokes, what it reminds us of, how it makes us feel. It's a bit like listening to music. When I feel happy, I chose a particular song, when melancholic another, when reflective yet another. So fragrance is choosing to wear a certain scent at a particular point in time, simply because it seems to merge perfectly with our individual experience of the moment and our surrounding reality. Perfume, therefore, represents an individual's ability to be connected, mindful and aware of who he/she and how he/she feels.
And how does it influence and determine its identity or express its personality?
As I said, a fragrance is very similar to clothing. What you choose to wear each day often says far more about you than one may initially expect. A fragrance is equally communicative. If you are happy, you may pick a light, bright, citric fresh scent. If you need to feel secure, for instance when you want to hold an upper hand in a business meeting, you may select a scent with more power, or maybe a vanilla that gives you confidence and a reassuring feeling.
You created the first Company of Intertrade Group in the 1980s, with the idea of creating an olfactory experience with a strong curatorial footprint. How has this olfactory experience changed over time?
Well technically, our footprint hasn't changed much. Intertrade Group is still very much about offering a carefully chosen, top-quality, edited collection of brands and products. What has changed a lot is the market, the brands and products we choose to offer, and how we evolve, moving forward in all aspects of our business. This can be in terms of retail and visuals, selecting more interactive spaces that lend themselves well to customer experience and dialogue, which are both extremely critical to us. An example of change is our recent focus on social media and internet based experiences, whereby we accept and embrace that not all our customers are walking into physical spaces, but rather researching or "testing" our concepts from their computers or smart phones. As a business, we must always adapt and evolve; yet while the "how" has changed, the experience of the olfactory journey remains very personal and highly emotional.
And what are its new frontiers?
"New frontiers" represent the place where technology and physical retail meet, getting closer to the customer 24/7. The means through which we talk to customers to meet their expectations must also include technology. By this, I mean that many artistic and commercial fragrances available at retail outlets are now using more video in retail displays. Our current world is highly based on motion, images, videos, movement. Other innovative technologies that have been recently launched or are still being developed are aimed at allowing consumers to imagine, visualize or actually experience scents remotely. I would say that the new frontier is really about figuring out how to be at the closest possible emotional "touch point" with the consumer.
What are you doing now?
Personally, I am currently working on creativity and expansion projects, both in developed and undeveloped markets. We successfully opened APGs in Cannes and Mykonos this summer, and there are more openings under way. I am also working with our management team to restructure some of the company departments and offices to create a more dynamic organization, which should become increasingly proactive and responsive every day. On a company level, Intertrade Group is busy organizing a number of brand programs, some new as the recent opening at Le Grand Musée du Perfume in Paris, and some being updated or renovated, in order to keep our strong hold as an industry leader within the field of high-end artistic perfumery and beauty.
What do today's "research", "niche" and "luxury" mean in your industry? In fact, they are often inflationary terms ...
"Research" to me is a team-related word, entailing us staying in close touch with thinking consumers, partners, staff and industry colleagues - everyday. We all have to do our homework before going to the office. We should never stop researching, observing, learning, trialling, adapting, revising. Customers are moving faster than the industry and hence marketing has completely changed.
"Niche" to me is currently somewhat an outdated term, or a bit "déjà vu". With a slew of acquisitions of former niche fragrance brands by the big cosmetic and beauty players, how can we truly talk about "niche" today? The word niche used to mean a specialized segment of the market for a particular type of product or service. Now, everyone is trying to "get into the game", so the specialized has disappeared. And from an opposite angle, how can we speak of niche when there are still so many ambitious newcomers stepping in one year, and exiting the industry the next? In fairness, I think "niche" still refers to the fact that there are fragrances that are still not "mainstream" or have not yet been overly commercialized, but niche now is a very broad playing field. To me, niche ends when profit becomes the main goal.
“Luxury" today? Ahhhh, now that gets more complicated. Even leading players in the luxury market have a hard time defining what luxury today means. Is it comfort, rarity, satisfaction, quality, expensiveness, prestige, abundance, pleasure, indulgence? If a fragrance has one or several of these qualities or evokes any of these feelings, it can automatically become a luxury fragrance. This is a very vast and complicated discussion. For us at Intertrade, I would say that luxury is an emotional feeling, regardless of the price. As our fragrances are developed to provide emotional contentment, we believe they are luxurious.
This 15th edition of Pitti Fragranze will have a special focus on sustainability. How do you think the idea of sustainability in the beauty and fragrances industry is being confirmed?
Sustainability is very important. Not just environmental sustainability, but also an economic one. We have a responsibility as fragrance leaders to create quality products that bring good feelings and are made of good raw materials, both for mankind and the environment. Yet, we must also recognize that we are responsible for creating products that last. This is a multi-level issue and also not an easy one to fully address. From the environmental sustainability standpoint, we observed many companies in the beauty and fragrances industry becoming more and more socially responsible.
What will be your future developments?
Future developments for Intertrade include a continued expansion of sales doors distribution and channels, new launches, and a sharper, tighter customer experience program. Changes are opportunities; it is our job to keep evolving and adapting, in order to remain aligned with the new visions and expectations of society.
Last but not least, can you anticipate something about your latest news at this edition?
Our latest news includes the restyling and launch of five new scents for the ROADS collection, as well as the high-end Thinkback stationery line I created at four hands with my lovely daughter Ingrid. We are also launching the Recare PXF and Recare Soleamore skincare collections, and many new products from our top perfume brands.