Alberto Morillas: A Lifetime Of Creativity

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

I usually go easy on the hyperbole. But I reckon it’s safe to say that Alberto Morillas is one of the hardest-working and most revered noses in the perfume biz. In his 45 years as a nose, the Spaniard has created many of the most successful fragrances of the last few decades.

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

LIVING LEGEND: There’s a good chance you’ve owned at least one Alberto Morillas fragrance. Pic courtesy of Firmenich.

How’s this for a roll call of achievement…. Panthere de Cartier (1986). Estee Lauder Pleasures (1995). Tommy Hilfiger Tommy (1995). Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio (1996). Lanvin L’Homme (1997). Kenzo Flower (2000). Mugler Cologne (2001). YSL M7 (2002). Marc Jacobs Daisy (2007). Versace Pour Homme (2008). Bulgari Man (2010). No wonder, Alberto Morillas was recognised by the Fragrance Foundation with the Perfumer of the Year Lifetime Achievement award in 2013.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition

PROLIFIC CREATOR: CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition, one of Alberto Morillas’ 2017 fragrances.

My first Alberto Morillas creation was the vanilla-laden Givenchy Pi (1998). To this day, it’s one of my favourite fragrances. Driven by his love for his work, Alberto Morillas continues to be a prolific creator. This year alone I have come across several of his creations. These include cK All, CH 212 Men Aqua, Bulgari Goldea The Roman Night, Gucci Bloom and D&G Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Homme, among others.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Gucci Guilty Absolute

LEATHER REPORT: Alberto Morillas created the superb Gucci Guilty Absolute.

The master perfumer has not lost his touch. His unusual treatment of leather for Gucci Guilty Absolute proves that he has also not the ability to surprise and confound.

Alberto Morillas is the nose behind Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 and Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017. When they were recently launched in South Africa, I thought I would try again to get an interview with Alberto Morillas. I was thrilled when the South African distributor got the go-ahead to send him some questions by email. I asked him about his fragrances for Issey Miyake, his creative process and what excites him most about modern perfumery. This is what he had to say….

It’s not the first time you have created an Issey Miyake fragrance. What attracted you most to this particular project?

In 2007 Issey Miyake first invited me to bring my own vision to the iconic signature I admired from my dear friend Jacques Cavallier [who created the original L’Eau d’Issey and L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme]. This was for the limited edition Une Goutte sur un Petal. At that time I could impart a fresh new vegetal touch as delicate as a dewy drop on a fresh petal.

Each time I work on a new L’Eau d’Issey fragrance I pay homage to the Japanese designer and his amazing work. More specifically on this project, I translated his unique vision into a pure, modern freshness for the summer editions.

Alberto Morillas and Issey Miyake Fragrances

PAYING HOMAGE: Visionary designer Issey Miyake.

How do you bring something new to L’Eau d’Issey while staying true to such a modern classic?

Both the masculine and the feminine Eau d’Issey personalities remain so distinctive I can play with new modern freshness by inviting novel ingredients into the composition, while staying true to their unique signatures. Pineapple and kiwi bring the new exotic twist to the masculine scent. Summer is also played by exotic fruits for the feminine version. I introduced a new invigorating brightness throughout the colourful cocktail of dragon fruit, mango and guava.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Summer 2017 Pour Homme

NOVEL NOTE: The pineapple note in Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 Pour Homme adds an exotic new twist.

Were there any challenges when creating these new Issey Miyake fragrances?

Since 1997 Issey Miyake first innovated on the market by offering summer fragrances as new fresh interpretations of the Eaux d’Issey Miyake. Always providing an abundance of joy, the seasonal creations have been regularly renewed and are supported by different original graphics and concepts. As a Mediterranean man I like to explore new sophisticated fresh universes inspired by my vivid summer memories. I am very attached, for example, to the citruses, sea notes and sunny flowers I married in these two opuses with joyful exotic fruits.

“As a Mediterranean man I like to explore new sophisticated fresh universes inspired by my vivid summer memories.”

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau D'Issey Summer 2017

What’s always the most important element in your creative process?

Looking for inspiration and new ideas when I work on a new perfume project is the most exciting part of my job. Behind every fragrance is a unique story emerging from a lot of sources, but above all from a direct dialogue with the people. As a perfumer, my inspiration comes from meeting with the brand. Their words are very important. Proximity makes all the difference when creating a perfume.

I confess I can hardly stop working and almost all my formulas are written by hand. My handwriting is my emotion. When I write the formula, I can smell the perfume. Like a craftsman, I have an indestructible passion for creation. All my fragrances come from this devotion to creation and have consumed all my days and nights for the past 45 years. I can easily imagine the fragrance without smelling it. For me, perfumery is an emotion. The technique is intellectual, but every perfume has to have a soul, a story and be an emotion.

Fragroom Interview - Alberto Morillas

WINNING FORMULA: Alberto Morillas says almost all his fragrance formulas are written by hand.

How long on average does it take you to create a fragrance?

It really depends on projects. Some only last a few months and others may continue for a few years.

“Creation is all about intuitive inspirations. Fragrances call for our deepest instincts and emotions.”

How important is intuition when creating a fragrance?

Creation is all about intuitive inspirations. Perfumers create abstract pieces from moments, emotions, sensations, people, places. Fragrances call for our deepest instincts and emotions.

With over four decades in the fragrance business, what advice would you give to aspiring perfumers?

If you want to become a perfumer, it is very important to be passionate, sensitive, enthusiastic, determined and extremely conscientious. You need an inquiring mind and a creative streak. You should be able to marvel at things as you did as a child. And of course, you should love the job of creating perfumes.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017

What trend in modern perfumery excites you the most?

Fragrance is the mirror of society; it has evolved a lot throughout the years. Today we have entered a time of high perfumery. Traditional perfumery codes are more and more revisited with a modern twist. But there’s also a strong focus on high-quality, statutory ingredients, texture and sophistication.

Alberto Morillas Fragrances - Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Summer 2017

Do you do anything to protect your gift of smell?

I don’t even think about it.

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer 2017 EDT, R995 for 100ml.  Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Summer 2017, R965 for 125ml.

 

Fragrance Reviews: Gucci Guilty Absolute, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT

Gucci Guilty Absolute, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint

So what’s on the Fragroom sniff-list this week? Well, we have three BIG designer fragrances. Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT. I am deliberately reviewing these three fragrances together, as they represent the best of what designer fragrances have to offer.

Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP 

The Gucci Guilty line has been on the market since 2010. While I have not tried all the flankers and limited editions, to me the super-fresh Gucci Guilty Eau EDT was the best of the range. But just when I thought Gucci Guilty was becoming a bit predictable, Gucci Guilty Absolute arrived.

Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP

This close collaboration between master perfumer Alberto Morillas and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele is a very brave release for Gucci.

Its listed notes include a custom-made leather accord (Woodleather), a natural extract of the nootka cypress (Goldenwood), three types of patchouli and vetiver. All of this adds up to create a rich, woody-leathery EDP that’s most intriguing.

To my nose Gucci Guilty Absolute is almost medicinal in character. And I mean that in a very good way. With its deep leather vibe, it pays respectful homage to Gucci’s luxury leather goods heritage. (PS: Did you know Gucci will be celebrating its 100th birthday in 2021?) Gucci Guilty Absolute is not a get-as-many-as-you-can crowd-pleaser, so not everyone will “get” it. Either way, it’s good to see Gucci taking some risks with this new fragrance.

Gucci Guilty Absolute EDP, R1 210 for 50ml, R1 605 for 90ml and R1 895 for 150ml.

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT

I am always very excited about a new Prada fragrance, as the Italian luxury brand doesn’t just churn ’em out. Of course, it’s in the money-making business, but there’s always a conceptual intelligence to the Prada aesthetic. And so it is with the latest addition to the Prada Luna Rossa range, originally launched in 2012.

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT

A fougère with a modern twist, Prada Luna Rossa Carbon has been crafted as a fusion of botanicals and synthetics, the natural and industrial. It features top notes of Italian bergamot and pepper; middle notes of lavender, soil tincture, water, metal and coal; and base notes of patchouli and ambroxan.

Perfumer Daniela Andrier has created all the Prada Luna Rossa fragrances. And her latest creation reflects the above-mentioned contrasts with aplomb. As with many Prada fragrances, there’s something quite austere about Prada Luna Rossa Carbon. Yet it’s sophisticated stuff at the same time, because there are no silly gimmicks to grab the attention.

In my opinion, Carbon is the best in the Prada Luna Rossa range. It’s well worth sniffing out if you’re partial to lavender. While you’re at it, please also check out the award-winning, iris-infused L’Homme Prada EDT.

Prada Luna Rossa EDT, R990 for 50ml and R1 355 for 100ml.

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon EDT

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT

A new Thierry Mugler A*Men fragrance is always cause for celebration. Originally launched in 1996, there are now 17 fragrances in the A*Men line, including the latest incarnation. You would think that with the umpteenth flanker, A*Men would have run its course. Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint proves otherwise, with a new variation on the love-it-or-hate-it gourmand formula.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT

So what does Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint smell like? There’s a lot going on here, with notes that include peppermint, patchouli, tonka bean, geranium, vanilla and coffee. If that sounds totally scrumptious, that’s because it is.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint is the olfactory equivalent of over-indulging in after-dinner mints. Remember, this is Thierry Mugler we are talking about, so reserve and restraint are not on the menu.

Sure, Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint is not the very best in the range (my favourites are still the original and the honey- and tobacco-laden A*Men Pure Havane). But kudos to nose Jacques Huclier, who has created all the A*Men fragrances, for playing with our noses again.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Kryptomint EDT, R1 195 for 100ml.

Fragrance Reviews: Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua, Jimmy Choo Man Ice, Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral, Scuderia Ferrari Forte

Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition

It’s been almost a month since my last fragrance review. And I have a backlog of fragrances to report back on here at Fragroom HQ. So this week and the next I will be reviewing seven newbies on my sniff list. This week we have Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua, Jimmy Choo Man Ice, Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral and Scuderia Ferrari Forte.

Issey Miyake Nuit d'Issey Bleu Astral

FEELING BLUE: Is Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral a hit or a miss?

Scuderia Ferrari Forte EDP

If, like me, you have never really explored Ferrari fragrances (surely too much testosterone), give this one a go. It’s not nearly as macho as it sounds. Scuderia Ferrarai Forte EDP is created by the esteemed Maurice Roucel (the nose behind Amouage Reflection Woman, Bond No 9 New Haarlem, Estée Lauder Pleasures Intense For Men, Gucci Envy For Women, Lancôme Hypnôse Homme, Rochas Man). The listed notes of this oriental fragrance include apple, lemon, plum, cinnamon, vanilla and patchouli notes. I mostly get a sweet and spicy pineapple vibe from this EDP. While not in the haloed company of the previously mentioned fragrances, it’s a good excuse to check out the world of Ferrari fragrances. Scuderia Ferrari Forte EDP, R895 for 125ml.

Scuderia Ferrari Forte EDP

Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT

Jimmy Phew! That’s Really Sweet. That was my initial reaction to the third addition to the Jimmy Choo Man fragrance franchise, which features mandarin, bergamot, cedrat essence, vetiver, patchouli essence, cedarwood, apple, musk, moss and ambroxan notes. I have revisited this fragrance several times since then to give it a fair chance, because sometimes an initial reaction can be influenced by factors such as mood. However, I still get major sweetness, rather than icy freshness, from Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT. Perhaps I am being too literal? So while this one ain’t for me, I see it working very well for trendy, active 20-something gents. Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT, R695 for 30ml, R895 for 50ml and R1095 for 100ml.

Jimmy Choo Man Ice EDT

Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition EDT

Hard to believe that CH 212 has been on the market for almost 20 years. You know you are getting older when you can measure your life in fragrance launch cycles. Anyway, enough about me. The latest CH 212 Men incarnation, created by master perfumer Alberto Morillas (who-co-created the original), features notes of grapefruit, bergamot, marine, cardamom, gardenia, ambrox, cypriola, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, rose and musk. CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition is not going to score points for originality, but it’s super-fresh, high-performance stuff. CH 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition EDT, R1 200 for 100ml.

Carolina Herrera 212 Men Aqua Limited Edition

Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral EDT

I really like Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Parfum, with its grapefruit, leather and tonka bean characteristics. For their latest creation in the series, Dominique Ropion and Loc Dong up the contrasts ante. So Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral opens with a fresh burst of lime and Russian coriander. Then there’s a sensuous aspect with leather, ambery woods and vetiver notes. It’s very minimalist in a Japanese way and very effective. A case of less is more, and I want a lot more of it. Issey Miyake Nuit d’Issey Bleu Astral EDT, R965 for 75ml and R1 175 for 125ml.

Issey Miyake Nuit d'Issey Bleu Astral EDT