A near-ob­ses­sive fas­ci­na­tion with vin­tage fra­grance bot­tles led Swiss en­tre­pre­neur and col­lec­tor Sil­vio Denz to the helm of one of the most pres­ti­gious crys­tal mak­ers in the world.

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Contents - STORY GLO­RIA FUNG

A nearob­ses­sive fas­ci­na­tion with vin­tage fra­grance bot­tles led Swiss en­tre­pre­neur and col­lec­tor Sil­vio Denz to the helm of one of the most pres­ti­gious crys­tal mak­ers in the world

With a ca­reer in scents that spans three decades, Sil­vio Denz’s fas­ci­na­tion with per­fumes be­gan in the 1980s when he joined the fam­ily’s dis­tri­bu­tion busi­ness, Al­rodo. He went on to build the firm into the largest per­fume retail chain in Switzer­land be­fore sell­ing it to a com­pet­ing French chain in 2008. In the same year, he founded Art & Fra­grance, a firm that spe­cialises in cre­at­ing and mar­ket­ing scents. Through­out his ca­reer, Denz’s love for fra­grance evolved from sell­ing to cre­at­ing, along the way amass­ing the largest pri­vate col­lec­tion of Lalique per­fume bot­tles in the world. It was this ini­tial fas­ci­na­tion with fra­grance bot­tle that led him to ac­quire Lalique in 2008. With a unique tal­ent to turn pas­sions into busi­ness, Denz shares how he in­vites el­e­ments of art, real es­tate, and watches into his work.

Your first ex­pe­ri­ence with Lalique was as a col­lec­tor, how did you be­gin col­lect­ing fra­grance bot­tles? With I started working in the fra­grance in­dus­try in the 1980s, it was mostly for work that I would study and col­lect all kinds of fra­grance bot­tles. But over time, I ac­quired a ma­jor col­lec­tion of Lalique bot­tles. I now have about 800 bot­tles in my per­sonal col­lec­tion.

You must have been very ex­cited when you found out that Lalique was for sale in 2007? Well yes, I was. But I was ini­tially in­ter­ested only in the fra­grance arm of the com­pany. I wasn’t re­ally in­ter­ested in crys­tal, but I was told I needed to buy ev­ery­thing, fac­tory and all. So on Valen­tine’s Day in 2008, I ac­quired Lalique.

You’ve fa­cil­i­tated nu­mer­ous col­lab­o­ra­tions with artists at Lalique, were any par­tic­u­lar ex­pe­ri­ences that stood out in your mind? I think it’s very im­por­tant to join forces with other tal­ents, not only in de­sign but in terms of ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent ranges of life­style prod­ucts and ini­tia­tives. We worked with El­ton John very closely. He’s a huge fan of Lalique and buys a piece from every col­lec­tion. He ap­proached us to cre­ate a spe­cial an­gle piece for the 2016 auc­tion for his AIDS foun­da­tion. At the end it sold for US$400,000 (HK$ 3.1 mil­lion). You’ve worked with watch­maker Parmi­giani to cre­ate sev­eral clocks in the past few years. Do you have any plans to ven­ture into watch­mak­ing? Yes, watches was some­thing that Réne Lalique (founder of Lalique) was very in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing. So it’s some­thing that I in­tend to bring back to Lalique. I’m still look­ing at how best to ap­proach cre­at­ing a col­lec­tion, whether to cre­ate a line that’s more for col­lec­tors or a broader fash­ion watch col­lec­tion. I’ve brought up the idea to Michel Parmi­giani and there’s a pos­si­bil­ity for col­lab­o­ra­tion there. Are you a watch col­lec­tor your­self?

Yes, I have a col­lec­tion of Patek Philippe. There are a few that I wear daily. But some of the pieces are too ex­pen­sive to be worn. Do you have a favourite fra­grance?

Ac­tu­ally I’m pretty loyal when it comes to fra­grances. I’ve been wear­ing L’eau d’issey Pour Homme Issey Miyake for men for 40 years now. I also like some of the fra­grance my com­pany has cre­ated with Jaguar [au­tomaker].

You’re also an avid art col­lec­tor. What ap­proach do you take when you make art pur­chases? I al­ways buy a piece of art­work with own­ing it in mind. So I’ll only buy some­thing that I love. I never buy some­thing with sell­ing it again im­me­di­ately in mind. I be­lieve if it’s some­thing that’s beau­ti­ful and I love, I’ll al­ways be able to find a buyer for it.

You’re also in­volved in real es­tate. Do you ap­proach buy­ing prop­erty in the same way? Yes! I see each prop­erty I pur­chase as a gen­er­a­tional pro­ject. It’s usu­ally a place that I can see my­self liv­ing in and I’ll spend time renovating it be­cause I al­ways buy a prop­erty with own­ing and us­ing it in mind. I’ve taken this sim­i­lar ap­proach to ren­o­va­tion with Réne Lalique’s house in Win­gen-sur-moder, France. The house is on 30 acres; we de­cided to ren­o­vate the prop­erty and trans­form the house into a Villa Réne Lalique. We’re now able to put those who visit the fac­tory in our ho­tel.

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