Every year the glamorous black-tie affair also pays tribute to a notable leader in the fragrance industry, with the presentation of the Art of Packaging Award. This year’s recipient and honoree was James Gager, senior vice president and group creative director at M·A·C Cosmetics and Jo Malone Worldwide.
Supermodel, entrepreneur and author Carol Alt once again graciously served as mistress of ceremonies for the evening. She led off by descricing the many qualities of a successful scent, but returned to the essence of the event when she said, “Without the package, the signature and personality of a fragrance is lost.”
Pratt Institute president Thomas F. Schutte welcomed Gager, a Pratt alumnus, and reminisced about creating the scholarship 26 years ago in another Pratt graduate’s name—Marc Rosen. He said that a number of Pratt graduates—some who had been previous scholarship winners—had gone on to take executive positions in the cosmetics and fragrance world.
John Demsey, group president of The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) took the podium to introduce the evening’s guest of honor. Demsey has been with ELC since 1991 and is credited with building M·A·C from a small makeup artist brand to a global powerhouse—and along the way has helped raise $365 million to fight AIDS through the M·A·C AIDS Fund’s Viva Glam lipstick campaign.
Demsey lauded Gager on taking M·A·C to the next level. “His work is a phenomenon in the industry,” praised Demsey. “He has been an entrepreneur since he was a child—and is the only creative director who actually comes from a design background and so, truly understands the engineering behind the package.”
Since 2010, Gager also art directs the Jo Malone brand, and according to Demsey, was the visionary behind Prescriptives. Demsey added that Gager, who has been with ELC for more than 35 years, has “a wicked sense of humor and is an incredible human being and a force in the global design and beauty world.”
When it was Gager’s turn to address the crowd, he credited his team: “This is not just a celebration of me—but of everyone who works with me. They are amazing people and I want to share this award with everyone who’s here tonight. Special callouts went to Demsey, Karen Buglisi Weiler, global brand president of M·A·C and Jennifer Balbier, senior vice president, global product development, Artistry Brands, ELC—and this year’s dinner chair.
Throughout Gager’s speech, mostly directed toward the student scholarship recipients, he stressed the importance of individuality and following your dreams. “I’m not like anyone else. I’m a dreamer,” he said. “Take risks. Believe what you believe in. Don’t compromise. Have fun. Laugh. Do what you love. Continue to dream. And love to you all.”
In a special announcement of the evening, Pratt Institute vice board chair Mike Pratt informed the crowd that the school will set up two full scholarships in Rosen’s name: the Marc Rosen Education Fund.
Rosen, who teaches the only graduate course in the country focusing on cosmetics and fragrance packaging design, at Pratt, proudly awarded six students with the scholarships. He reaffirmed that the dinner is “all about the students,” and explained that an unprecedented six recipients, rather than four, had been chosen this year. He said, “It is always so rewarding to have these scholarships come to life.”
This year’s outstanding student scholarship winners are: Olivia Hwayoung Kim, Liyang Xu, Saana Hellsten, In-Young Bae, Hsiao-Han Chen, and Marc Valega.
In her closing remarks, Alt noted how much Rosen brings to the fragrance and cosmetics packaging industry through these scholarships. Addressing him directly, she said, “The students that you support live with you in your heart and soul forever.”
Here's a look at each of the student’s projects and their corresponding statements.