Audrey B. Gruss is a woman who knows business, and she wasted no time getting down to it when we spoke on the phone earlier this Spring. Her perfumes are a favorite of ours at Wishlist (as we mentioned here), so naturally I was thrilled to hear from the visionary behind these gorgeous fragrances that aim to spread confidence to their wearers and make an impact on the future of mental health while doing so.
“I loved the fragrances that my mother wore, and my mother always loved white flowers–she loved any white flowers,” Audrey gushes about the perfume’s namesake, Hope. Gardenia, star jasmine, ily of the valley, and tuberose were the four key scents Hope loved to keep on her dressing table for mixing and matching, creating the perfect blends. This was only one facet of her creative nature as a teacher, art enthusiast, and poet who Audrey describes as someone who “looked at the beauty in things.”
While those memories stand out, Audrey also recalls much more difficult times that left a lasting impact when her mother’s mental health suffered after fleeing her native Lithuania in the 1940s. Depression was dangerously misunderstood in those days. Hope’s artistic and sensitive nature no doubt compounded the illness in ways we still don’t fully understand, especially with research on mental health medicine stagnating after the release of SSRIs and SSNIs in the late 80s and early 90s respectively.
Out of this lull in advancement, Audrey was moved to create the Hope For Depression Research Foundation (HDRF for short) in 2006, an organization whose mission is “to fund cutting-edge, scientific research into the origins, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of depression and its related mood and other emotional disorders – bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder, and suicide.”
“In 15 years,” Audrey told me, “we have now become the leading depression research organization in the country, which is so exciting and wonderful. And one of the reasons we’ve been very successful is that our doctors that we give grants to and that we fund all must agree to work collaboratively. They have to share their research results in real time.”
That instantaneous system of sharing data has given rise to what Audrey hopes will be the first new category of anti-depressants in nearly 30 years. Her voice became animated as she exclaimed, “We’ve got men heading for Mars, but we don’t have enough money put behind mental health!”
The task force at HDRF is led by neuroscientists from all over the world from Germany to Canada, from Duke to the University of Michigan here in the United States. They’re currently funded for three-year programs that allow for the advanced depression research, while another goal of the organization is to increase public awareness while decreasing stigma around discussing mental health issues.
“People need some type of treatment, whether it’s medications or talk therapy are not getting treatment in the United States today,” she says. “That is shocking. What we want to do is raise the awareness so that they can realize that they can get help. They can be helped one way or another.”
With this goal in mind and rich history of working with beauty titans like Revlon and Elizabeth Arden as an executive who saw all the behind-the-scenes action of major product launches, Audrey realized her calling was to use a luxury scent inspired by her beloved mother that could reach the masses and carry with it her message of good faith in healing; thus we have Hope.
Hope Fragrances are carried exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman because, as Audrey explained, “I felt that to go from the top was the best way to launch this... We’re combining science and beauty and luxury, and–while we’ve got to get the government interested in spending more on mental health–we can move very quickly. So as much money as we raise and as much money as we can get, we put right into research.”
And at the top it sits, ready to bring the perfect finishing touch to any luxury-lover’s daily ensemble. Below you’ll find a selection of the Hope Fragrance products available, so find your scent and buy knowing 100% of the profits are funneled into the Hope for Depression Research Foundation to help us find new ways to treat the mental health issues so many people face.
The original Hope Fragrance is an uplifting, crisp blend of the four staples: tuberose, gardenia, lily of the valley, and jasmine. Audrey describes this combo as the company’s DNA and says:
“When you smell something beautiful and it goes right into your olfactory nerve, it goes right to that sense of smell, you feel uplifted. You feel something beautiful going through your brain and your system. We can’t get too technical or biological about it, but smelling something beautiful is a very uplifting experience. We call it Hope the uplifting fragrance.”
Hope Night Eau de Parfum, 1.7 fl. oz. / 50ml
This sensual take on the OG infuses vanilla, amber, plum, and even a hint of patchouli for a sexier nighttime scent that’s perfect for a date or just to spritz on before bed. Audrey describes Hope Night as “very sophisticated... a very comforting, warm, relaxing fragrance.”
Hope Sport Eau de Parfum, 1.7 fl oz / 50 ml
Notes of greenery and citrus join the DNA of Hope for an energizing blend meant for more active types who want to smell fresh and lovely while they’re on the go.
“There is a whole group of women, especially during this pandemic, that never get out of their sports clothes,” Audrey says of her inspiration for Hope Sport. “I felt that woman wanted something green or crisper, kind of more outdoorsy.”
Hope Scented Candle, 8 oz. / 225 g
Wearing it is great, but you can also fill your home with the scent of Hope with the flick of a match. This exquisite candle provides up to 55 hours of burning time and is packaged in a stunning gold jar. We suggest grabbing two so you can keep one then gift the other to your favorite candle lover.
Hope Hand and Body Cream, 4 oz. / 118 ml
If $150 isn’t quite in your budget but you still want to robe yourself in the delicious floral scent, try the luxe hand and body cream and enjoy smoother skin that smells amazing.