Bulgari’s Master Perfumer And CEO On The New Perfume For Men: BVLGARI MAN Wood Essence
Bulgari’s Alberto Morillas and Jean-Christophe Babin speak to us about the latest creation for Bulgari — Man
Wood Essence and what sets the brand apart
Alberto Morillas, master perfumer, speaks to MW about his latest creation for Bulgari — Man Wood Essence
You are credited with creating signature perfumes for many fashion houses, which have become classics. Is there a winning formula?
I don’t have a vision, but I have a mind. I make everything that I love. When I worked with Gucci or with Bulgari – I was free. First, they give me what they wanted, and then I was given the freedom for my creation. When I present, they tell me they like it more this way, or more that way. And maybe because of this I have success in my creation. I don’t want to understand the marketing; I just create with my passion.
What do you love about Bulgari Man Wood Essence?
I love the simplicity. Also the wood is marvellous, and it infuses this fragrance with powerful energy.
What is the best way to apply the fragrance?
For men, it’s sheer, on the body, on the inside of the suit or on the shirts. This particular fragrance stays for very long on the skin, and it’s better to spray a little bit on the suit or T-shirt, so it stays longer.
We’re intrigued that you still hand-write all your perfume formulae. Why is that important for you?
I don’t know how to write on a computer. When you write, you take time… You think jasmine, and you write jasmine and you smell the jasmine. For me, it’s more emotional when I write because I’m an old man. I like it when I see the formula and understand it. And then I feel happy.
Is woodiness a traditionally masculine scent? Is there a future for fragrances where we move beyond floral for women and woody for men?
Of course. You have patchouli, vetiver, cedarwood, sandalwood, etc, which are more traditional for men. But it’s very important to mix aromas like lavender, bergamot and musk. When you create a perfume for men, you also need to think of women, because a lot of women like to wear men’s perfume. To create an emotion is most important. You have to be happy when you smell it.
You talk a lot about memory and emotion. What are the memories and emotions you are creating with this particular scent?
When you are young, you climb the tree house. This is the first emotion you have. You smell the trees and you have this emotion that you always remember. Men’s fragrance is very simple to understand. The man wants something fresh, powerful and to stay on the skin. Women are more complicated, because they want something romantic but also sexy, floral but not too floral, spicy but not too spicy. For me, it’s much easier to create a man’s perfume. It is more direct.
What do you want consumers to think of when they smell this fragrance?
The energy of trees and simplicity of the fragrance.
Bulgari Man Wood Essence
Bulgari Man Wood Essence blends intense woody notes with bright citrus accents, producing an exhilarating addition to the Bulgari Man collection.
To channel the magnificent energy of the tree, Morillas selected timber and roots from around the world. His quest landed him in Haiti, a wellspring of vetiver, and in the southern United States and its cedar wood groves. The odyssey brought him back to his homeland, Europe, and Spain’s plentiful cypress trees. Morillas combined these multiple wood powerhouses and elevated the cypress and vetiver to the heart of the Eau de Parfum. “Hearing the name Bulgari Man Wood Essence inspired me to combine these intense woody notes from nature,” he explains.
Artfully blended, the Eau de Parfum is built like a tree: Its colourful top notes dance like leaves and branches in the wind, its earthy middle notes embody the strength of a tree trunk, and its robust bottom notes anchor the scent as well as any roots. Combined, the electrifying fragrance puts the boundless strength of nature at the Bulgari man’s fingertips.
Model-actor Nick Bateman stars in the fragrance campaign, portraying the urban man connecting with nature and returning to his essence – the perfect example of a city dweller in tune with his environment.
Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO at Bulgari, on what sets the brand apart, and why he believes that less is more
What would you say is Bulgari’s unique appeal in the world of luxury?
I have mentioned that it’s very much our style, but of course, also our magnificence – which is made of contrasts of volumes, colours, and of boldness – which itself stems from our Roman origin. What really distinguishes Bulgari from others is our expression of our origins and lifestyle, applied to jewellery at one end and perfume at the other end, or leather goods – all these items are unique because of a combination of some science, some precious skins and colours. The fragrances are also very much influenced by Roman culture and philosophy.
One of your decisions as CEO was to take the watch and fragrance lines into smaller, higher-end collections. How has that worked out?
Generally speaking, I believe less is more. What you need as a brand is to stand first across businesses for something pretty sharp, rather than just a label, and be inspirational to your clients. Once you have defined that, obviously you need to focus on a few symbols that express those values and that DNA, which is our jewellery, watches and fragrances. I believe that the more you focus on a few but complementary styles, the better posiition your brand is in to pick up a franchise, and not the other way round. You cannot have desirability and consistency with ten different styles.
India happens to be one of the oldest fragrance-making cultures in the world. Have you experienced it? Will we one day see an India-inspired fragrance?
Of course, ingredients in several fragrances come from India. Not in the case of Man Wood Essence, but there are several other fragrances – especially in our Le Gemme line – which have ingredients that are quite specific to India. We have some jewellery cuts launched four years ago, which directly came from Rajasthan. So we have been quite inspired by the country.
How do you feel this fragrance is going to stand apart from the earlier range of Bulgari fragrances?
I think the idea behind Man Wood Essence is the combination of ingredients, which is really celebrating a balanced aspiration of life, made of confidence, inner strength and a kind of serendipity, which you usually tend to find in the countryside. Obviously the dream is to combine both, because you will never give up being a citizen of the city. You wouldn’t necessarily give up the idea that your life can be and should be authentic, and Man Wood Essence wants to express that it is all about authenticity.