Impeccable ladies in summer white were ushered into Audrey Gruss’ Southampton estate by a phalanx of well-mannered men and women who whisked them out of cars, directed them through a white and cream entry room, through a large manicured lawn circled by white hydrangeas to the pool area, equally bejeweled by white dogwood trees with gardenia flowers wired around them, an apple orchard and white birch allee. Audrey warmly greeted all. She had invited her group of friends to celebrate recent advances in her Hope for Depression Research Foundation, the Hope Fragrance she created to help fund it, and to give a preview of its new product in the works: Body Mist Light, that will launch in the fall.
Judith Giuliani, Sharon Bush, Hilary Geary Ross, Anne Eisenhower, Kim Heirston, Joan Hornig, Sheila Fuchs, Mariana Kaufman, Katherine LeFrak, Mai Harrison, Carol Mack, Nancy Schaeffel, Sandy Norman and Edwina Von Gal were among those nibbling on tea sandwiches and sipping bubbly.
Move over Hope Diamond. Hope is now bottled, available to all, and serving a greater good. The fragrance is Audrey’s Proustian madeleine, inspired by the memory of the perfumes on her mother, Hope’s vanity. Its notes come from the white flowers she loved and with which Audrey had filled the room: lilies of the valley, gardenia, tuberose and jasmine.
“Mother always loved fragrance,” said Audrey. “My mother loved to sing. She loved to dance. She was a writer and she used various different fragrances I remember on her dressing table.” Audrey’s mother also suffered from depression.
“I never knew that I could help in some way,” Gruss continued. “I didn’t know where to donate or even that depression and mood disorders needed support. But, depression is now the number one reason for disability. People can’t get up or go to work. It’s also the number one reason that people commit suicide.” Today, with the rash of self inflicted deaths affecting so many, Gruss and her foundation have clearly been proactively ahead of the curve.
Gruss founded Hope for Depression Research 12 years ago, after her mother passed away. “I was told that there was nothing new — no new medication in the field of depression — for more than 30 years,” she said. “Can you imagine, we’re taking people to Mars!” The foundation’s approach, asking interdisciplinary researchers to work together rather than in competition, led to a huge breakthrough for identifying and treating depression that was announced July 30.
The Hope Fragrance collection currently includes an Eau de Parfum, an Eau de Parfum Purse Spray, a Hand and Body Creme, and a Scented Candle. The products range from $40 to $115 SRP, and are available to purchase at hopefragrancesint.com.
“If you buy any of these products, from our websites, we don’t have to give the retailer the 40 percent profit that they take,” Gruss explained, “so 100 percent of every penny that you pay for Hope products goes right back into the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. No one has ever done this before.”
“It is a fragrance steeped in giving back, in feelings, in emotion, in wanting to do something good, something beautiful you would do for yourself, for your friends. You’re giving back to an amazing cause that is affecting over 30 million people around the world.”
“The fragrance stands on its own but the message is really unique,” she noted. “We can get these fragrances out to millions to hear our story. And just by buying something beautiful, we can make a difference.”