From the January 1999 Newsletter…
27-30 May 1998 held at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France
“I’m Still Standing”
The WPC was held just after the Cannes Film Festival. The Cannes front was filled with marquees, formerly homes to big screens showing hundreds of films the previous week. Stars had lingered, and a yacht the size of a hotel remained in the bay. The Martinez hotel sighed with relief, apparently perfumers were much less difficult than film stars, starlets and producers!
To paint a picture – the video of I’m Still Standing by Elton John, was filmed outside the hotel where the WPC was held. There was the same blue sky, sandy beaches, palm trees, but unfortunately no Elton John (various attendees did say they had seen Rod Stewart driving about though)
I arrived on Sunday to attend the IFRA Membership forum, a two-day legislative conference, which took place on Monday and Tuesday. My first night was spent locked in the hotel room, while downstairs a glitzy party attended by the rich and famous took place. Overhead three helicopters circled, each displaying a banner GODZILLA….HE’S LONGER THAN….THE CARLTON HOTEL. The only attempt made to exit the hotel was met with security guards, and screaming fans, six deep surrounding the outside of the hotel.
On Tuesday the lobby was filled with the fragrance of millions of rose petals, which had been placed with a distillation vessel to greet the arriving 1200 perfumery delegates. It was the biggest WPC to date, with the last delegates booking to attend only two weeks before. The opening ceremony took place on the beach from 7pm. All were pleased to be finally at the WPC, and there was an air of expectation.
The conference facilities were excellent. Throughout the proceedings, the lectures were simultaneously translated into English, French, Japanese and Spanish. We all avidly listened, through our headphones, to world-renowned members of the fragrance and fragrance product industries, as they gave their well-practiced, always interesting, and sometimes funny presentations
Wednesday was themed ‘The Image of Perfumes’. There were six presentations, including Pamela Baxter, Aramis/Hilfiger, and the story of her journey with Tommy, and ‘A Slice of Perfume History’, from Marie-Christine Grasse, from the International Perfume Museum of Grasse. After the presentations fifty exhibitors beckoned, displaying software, perfumery books and our suppliers demonstrating raw materials. Many of our suppliers had been ingenious and creative with their stands, one supplier had perfume ingredient lead nibbles, to entice perfumers to stop, including (from memory) strawberry tarts with jasmin petals – it worked for me!
On Wednesday evening about one hundred people went to dinner, at Charabot’s invitation, to Mougins village, purportedly with the best cuisine in France. Before the meal villagers entertained us with traditional dancing, at times looking a little dangerous, pitchforks were used in a harvesting celebration, big sticks in another. The most worrying, must have been one about married life, as the dancers kept slapping each other around the face! After dinner perfumers could be found wandering about, smelling ylang, jasmin and other wondrous flowers growing in the gardens of Mougins
Thursday was entitled ‘The Science of Perfumes’ and consisted of nine presentations, including ‘Musk’s – the choices’, Ron Fenn, IFF. ‘The beauty of asymmetry’ by Makato Emura, Takasago (a Japanese scientist who introduced himself and his lecture in French, before switching to English) was a fascinating insight into Takasago research into optically active molecules and their different odour character and intensity. ‘International Legislation and Intellectual Property’ was provided by Maurice Wagner, President of IFRA.
Thursday afternoon provided a real treat; the opportunity to visit Grasse, see the fields, and visit an essential oil factory. Unfortunately with Thursday came the rain, and it was very difficult to see the road, let alone the fields. A further difficulty was the coaches were dreadfully late leaving, and no provision had been made for lunch – there was not enough time between the end of the presentations, and departure. By the time we arrived in Grasse at the Charabot factory, I felt so sick I hardly dared smell any materials. The most amazing thing I saw and smelt on the trip was a lump of Ambergris, approximately the size of a child’s head. After the factory tour, we set off for our tour of Grasse, where we forced the tour guides to ‘take us to food’, before we could consider taking in the historical town. In the evening there were drinks and a buffet in the presence of the Mayor of Grasse.
Friday was entitled ‘The Business of Perfumery’, and included in the eight presentations, was ‘The Global Ethnic Consumer’ by Joyce Roche, Carson Products. Her presentation stressed the importance of this growing market. Elisabeth Johnson, BBW presented ‘Translating trends into Success’, another interesting presentation. My favourite of the day, was entitled ‘The Consumer of Tomorrow’ by Jacques Seguela, Havas Advertising. It was a hysterical look into the world of advertisements, which I could not begin to relay on paper.
On Saturday there were golf and tennis tournaments. I’m sorry to say I was too tired, and good at neither.
The Gala Evening was a great success. The winner of the Young Perfumer Competition was announced as Christel Bergoin from Quest, with her fragrance called Soiree Provencale. We were entertained by a famous pop singer (whose name escapes me!) and thereafter by the Jazz Big Band of Gilbert Brun.
Finally, I would like to add that it really was work (honest!) and ‘I’m still standing’ was how some of us might have been described at the end of the week!
© Copyright British Society of Perfumers 1999