L'Officiel Hommes USA




Alberto Morillas is a legend in the orbit of contempora­ry perfumery. In seven industry-changing decades on earth, he’s created more than 500 perfumes. In 2017, he started designing fragrances for Gucci. After Gucci Guilty Absolute and Gucci Bloom, he drew the outlines of Gucci Mémoire d’une Odeur, a poetic, emancipate­d and romantic wonder. A sensory splendor.

How is working with Alessandro Michele?

It’s a really unique relationsh­ip. He decides to confide his emotions to me, to put me on the trail of a new smell, a new sensation. He gives me his indication­s, but no precise direction. He has a very rich olfactory culture. He collects perfumes and wears many. He also has a very precise knowledge of the market, without this data entering into our exchanges.

For example, when I created Gucci Guilty Absolute, he wanted it to capture the smell of Gucci’s leather goods workshops. He was not quoting perfumes already made, but emotions. I offered him four ways, and he said: ‘That’s exactly how I felt when I was working in the workshop.’ Then we worked on Gucci Bloom, for which he asked me to create an imaginary garden, so I worked with French, English and Italian garden fragrances in mind. I had strange flowers in my head, with a slightly poisonous, mysterious side. Gucci Bloom gives the feeling of entering a magical, imaginary world. Working with Alessandro goes very fast; once he has regained his emotion, he considers it over.

Gucci Mémoire d’une Odeur is particular­ly singular, how was it created?

The process was much more complicate­d, because he asked me to build a smell around chamomile, an ingredient that has always been used in perfumery, but with light traces or small inflection­s. It took a year and a half, because he always wanted more chamomiles, and it’s difficult because in perfumery, we’re very convention­al. It’s complicate­d to impose a smell, an emotion, a memory. So I asked all the teams to do some research, because chamomile must have a particular quality here, not to mention an infusion! It was necessary to make sure that there was enough material to compose the perfume. Gucci Mémoire d’une Odeur has a marked olfactory presence, but it doesn’t bother Alessandro. In the microcosm of perfumery, everyone talks about it: finally a product that goes off the beaten track! Everyone copies themselves by adding a little bergamot here and there. We were driven here by the desire to be different, but never disturbing. The first five minutes, after trying it, people sometimes find it strange, but once the chamomile has evaporated a little, people really like what’s left on the skin and clothes, because there’s a mineral and very sensual dimension. And on the skin, this accord of floral, jasmine, musk, has a very mysterious connotatio­n, you want to know more, you are very intrigued. The perfume is there to create an impression of mystery. Each skin develops it differentl­y, because there is a lot of musk, with a very floral dimension.

How do you explain its uniqueness?

It expresses a great freedom; it is not exclusivel­y for one genre or another. I worked all over the place to find a balance, so that chamomile would not crush everything. It’s a very Gucci fragrance, which really represents Alessandro. He makes decisions like when he creates a collection, and you can’t please everyone. This perfume breaks many

codes; I have seen that several perfumery awards have already rewarded it.

Harry Styles is the face of the campaign.

When I create a perfume, I know nothing about the communicat­ion that will accompany it. I more or less knew who the muse would be, but it was not yet certain. When you see the whole campaign, you understand the perfume better. You find the mineral side embodied by the castle, the primitive aspect expressed by the earth, the fire... the communicat­ion is as intriguing as the perfume. There is no specific rule.

Do you follow his collection­s closely?

I attend all his shows. But Alessandro’s world is not only his collection­s, it is his style, and it is above all his studio in Rome. Each time, he gives me almost an hour of his time, which is a lot for him, and I am in his world, surrounded by very strange, unusual objects. Because perfume is not like a collection, it is not circumscri­bed at a specific time. When you create a perfume, it is everyone from Alessandro, his personalit­y that you capture in an essence.

How do you work? Alone? A team?

I live in Geneva; it’s my zero point. I have set up my laboratory there. I have employees in Paris and New York. I work alone for Gucci. The perfumes are really the result of my work with Alessandro; the materials chosen are validated by him, because you can’t work with a whole marketing team around them. The bond must be very intense, that’s what makes the strength of our creations. If we take the opinion of 50 people, we have 50 flavors. When he created Gucci Bloom, everyone thought that floral was “very extreme.” But that’s exactly what he wanted.

Does he provide you with samples? Essences?

Never. He offers me associatio­ns, tracks, flower associatio­ns, perfumes that he wore when he was younger,

or by his mother or aunt. He doesn’t say, “I’d like to work with a male like that,” he wants to be surprised. It’s like looking for a stone for jewelry. You’re trying to find an emerald that’s different from all the others. It’s a whole constructi­on that requires a lot of work from me, and I work almost exclusivel­y for him.

What is your favorite time of creation?

When he calls me with new ideas. It’s very exciting to see what he wants to do, what research he wants me to do. He never shows me an element; he rather evokes memories, emotions. He doesn’t give a subject, until now, with a precise material, but he already has ideas for colors for the bottle, small details...

What was the first smell that struck you?

I am Spanish, so maybe the first olfactory emotion is the smell of water. In Seville in the 1960s, the smell of the patio in the morning, the aquatic smell of cleanlines­s, renewal, life associated with the scents of orange blossom, jasmine. The smell of the well. Water on a lawn, on a foliage, water from a fountain, everyone feels it differentl­y. What I’ve been looking for in my perfumes for 50 years is this kind of fluidity. Even in fragrances that are very dense or dark, there must always be a breath inside. And unconsciou­sly I associate it with heaven.


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