His name is certainly familiar to you, and for a good reason. The story of Alberto Morillas is one of a genius Master Perfumer, prolific and passionate, whose number of creations today stands at more than 500, some of which are among the greatest classics of perfumery.This is the story of an autodidact, who joined the ranks of Firmenich in Geneva in 1970, without a diploma or training, and who would achieve his first great success a few years later with Must de Cartier. For more than forty-five years, Alberto has been creating the most exquisite fragrances for major brands, some of which have risen to the rank of true icons. Like Byzance by Rochas, CK One by Calvin Klein, Acqua Di Giò by Giorgio Armani, Flower by Kenzo by Kenzo, or Belle d'Opium by Yves Saint Laurent. In 1999, with the launch of Mizensir, dedicated to the creation of exceptional handmade candles, Alberto Morillas embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure. Now enriched with a line of eau de parfums, the house stands out thanks to its unique and personal compositions, testifying to all the passion and excellence of the Master Perfumer.
You have created some of the most cult fragrances in the history of perfumery; what made you decide to launch your own brand?
I have been in the perfume business for forty-five years, and I can tell you that even after all these years, it is still the same passion that drives me. At Firmenich, I have always had the opportunity to create without taboos and limits, and I am delighted to continue working with them today and for a few years to come.
The idea for Mizensir came naturally. Twenty years ago, Patrick Firmenich asked me to create a line of candles to offer them to the right customers of the company. Faced with the success of this range, he encouraged me to develop my brand of artisanal candles, entirely handmade in a workshop in Geneva. This is how Mizensir was born.
How would you define the identity of the brand?
These are not niche items but truly exceptional, very exclusive products. Mizensir candles are entirely handcrafted in a workshop in Geneva. The brand's philosophy is not to offer decorative objects but to allow the discovery of fragrances that we have "put in wax" while allowing themselves to be transported ... The same goes for the line of skin perfumes that we created later, which are more personal creations with a more assertive olfactory signature.
How, after all these years, do you ever get bored?
I kept the same creative energy, and I still see perfumery with the child's eyes. I also have the chance to work with a company that invests heavily in research and new molecules, which gives me a constantly renewed playing field.
What do you think is your greatest talent?
Passion ! I think it is essential to excel at what you do, constantly renew yourself, and know how to keep up with the times.
How do the creative processes differ depending on whether you create a big brand or for your own house?
The financial stakes are not the same. For Mizensir, we do not call on muses, so we have little cost, and I can go much further in the creation; I am free. On the other hand, certain elements remain intangible, particularly when it comes to the philosophy of perfume: it is about evoking grandeur, simplicity, and creating something different.
How long does the process of creating a perfume generally take?
It is very variable; it can last a month or three years. It's very difficult to know when to stop, like a book or a work of art, you would always want to extend, and you are always a little nostalgic when you come to terms with it. It's hard to tell if the creation is complete, and it's rarely the last version you choose. For Kenzo Flower, for example, it was the third version selected from over more than 4,000 tests! The history of perfume is invisible, and it is the emotion it gives us that is important.
How do you see the perfume industry today?
I find that while everyone can create beautiful perfumes and bottles, the sector is sometimes a little lacking in daring. This is very expensive, but many brands prefer to invest in the image rather than in the juice. I think we are witnessing a turning point in the perfume sector. Consumers are faced with a huge number of choices, but also counterfeits and products of hazardous quality. It's up to brands to get more serious in order to make the profession look great.
What do you think makes certain fragrances time-bound and others not?
For many, it is mostly about identity. Twenty years ago, Acqua di Gio was not trendy at all, and today it is timeless. Ditto for CK One by Calvin Klein.
Do you have a favorite ingredient?
Cypriol. This is a papyrus root that I used when I created my first perfume, FH77, for Courrèges. I am also very attached to the orange blossom, which reminds me of my childhood and the rose. There are millions of materials and formulas in perfumery; what matters is the story you will write with them.
Do you think brands and retailers need to offer more in-store experiences to their customers?
We are in a consumer world; people who buy perfumes do not need to be explained to them. It's a lonely time for epicureans who like to discover and follow their impressions.
What is your greatest pride as a perfumer?
To have passionate clients, to have some great classics to my credit, but above all to continue to be as passionate as forty years ago, and to continue to cherish these moments of creation.
Interview conducted by Kathy O'MENY and Mathilda PANIGADA
ABC - LUXE.com Juillet 2017