19 October 2022
Alberto Morillas | the collector
Close your eyes. Slow your breathing and inhale the aroma around you. What do you pick up ? What is making your senses come alive ? What are you drawn towards ? This is just the start of a perfume coming to life and the daily creative process that master perfumer Alberto Morillas is accustomed to. « Perfume has always been part of my education » he explains. « Not only did my parents wear a lot of perfume, but i as also perfumed as a child, spritzed in Eau de cologne. » Small wonder, then, that the Spanish perfumer, born into a world of poignat notes and rich aromas, grew up to become a renowned creator of scents and a vast collector of fragrances.
Glance around the rooms of Morillas’ home in Geneva and you’ll find your eyes dancing between the layers of candles and perfumes decorating and scenting his home. Not merely positionned for interiors purposes, his collection, like his garden, us a playground to rouse his creativity. « My collection reflects the history of perfumes, perfumery and its evolution, » he explains and what a museum of fragrances he has collected. But then Morillas ‘ creations are legendary. He’s famed for being the nose behind Calvin Klein Ck One, Giorgio Armani Acqua di Bio, Marc Jacobs Daisy and Cartier’s first fragrance, Must de Cartier, to name but a few. « I became a perfumer iut of passion » he says. « Ck One was a re-creation of the freshness of a cold tea, Acqua di Gio, the evocation of holidays and the sea, and MJ Daisy, an abstract flower bouquet. » So you can understant how his home is a shine to olfactory alchemy. « I started a collection of old perfume bottles 50 years ago. » he reveals. This wealth of treasures is dispayed in a glass cabinet, spanning four alcoves and comprising more than 20 shelves - which extend though to his garden « Each ( bottle) evokes a particular period. They are impossible to find now, and each one is a rare piece, with a particular know-how and craft. » Don’t expect to find anything remotely ordinary here, with the collection spanning obscure yet intricate glassware, vividly bright bottle tops, half-spritzed flacons and delicate boxes. « This library with the glass shelves inspires me for my new creations, » says Morillas. His desk- lined with oak and leather; a treasure trove of miniature perfume bottles, testing strips and papers noting his formulations- is the nerve centre for « the prototypes of my future perfumes. I like to sit in this place where i can work while looking at my garden ». Here, a creative synergy feeds and inspires each and all of his creations, giving him moments to escape, breathe in and dream. While the average perfume collection may be brought together by rose scents, ouds or woody aromas, Morillas finds equal satisfaction in the physical craftsmanship. « I’m drawn to the shapes of the bottles, some of them more figurative than others, as well as the technical quality of the glass- there are some rare and uniques pieces, » he says. And he’s not just fixated on a particular era of design. « Every design period is represented in my collection. It is not the design itself that matters most, but the fact that some pieces would be impossible to create now, » he says, noting the beauty of their individuality. « It is the craftsmanship that makes them so valuable. »
Morillas’s collection has never been streamlined- no old bottles thrown away, no whittling down over the years. « I find it very difficult to get rid of perfume bottles because one day they may become a collector’s item ». he says. And although he perhaps does not see himself as a collector in his own mind, Morillas fondly remembers when and where ( auctions, flea markets ….) Each one one was discovered and purchased.
Encompassing creativity, inspiration, formulation and design, Morillas’ perfume library is a much part of his interiors aesthetic as it is his art form, and his collections forms a strong part of his home décor. But it’s not just perfumes that scent his home. A host of candles also pepper the spaces. « People are often surprised by the number of different candles u have lit all over my house, » he says. Cascading along console tables, tucked away in tight corners, illuminating the centre of rooms; candles - many from his own brand, Mizensir - are found at every turn. Expect to be met by a different signature and mood as you move from room to room in Morillas’ home. « When you enter my house, you are welcomed by the scent of the candles; each giving a special atmosphere, » he explains. “ It is an integral part of my lifestyle. » And if you’re wondering what the perfumer lights day to day, this changes as the seasons roll around, inspired by nature. « In winter, i like to burn Sapin de Noël and Pomme d’Ambre », says Morillas. « In spring, i want to smell fresh flowers or Le Jardin du Parfumeur. In summer, i need freshness wafting through the home with Mizensir’s range of summer candles.
Morillas’ home is an olfactory pyramid where he can form any fragrance, with layers of bottles for inspiration, as well as a number of formulas for testing ans a custom garden for creation. « All the fragrances i work on - and the ones i need to rework - are influenced by my garden. I compose my garden as i create my formulas, » he says, with roses and peonies currently a key focus.
Morillas, with wife Claudine, founded his brand more than 20 years ago. Reflecting on his original inspiration, he says, « i wanted to create candles that corresponded to my interiors. That was the followed by perfume, created in my own image, with complete freedom. I favor natural materials, citruses, Mediterranean flowers, jasmine, neroli and orange blossom, without worriying about the cost of the formula. What matters is quality above all. » That consideration equates to a process that is far from simple - buit the results speak for themselves. « My Mizensir collection alone is so vast, with more than 100 references, that even i sometimes forget certain scents - and i find such joy when i rediscover them. »