His name is certainly familiar to you, and for good reason. The story of Alberto Morillas is the story of a genius, prolific and passionate Master Perfumer, whose number of creations today amounts to more than 500, some of which are among the most great 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 a few years later achieved his first major success 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, it was with the launch of Mizensir, dedicated to the creation of exceptional artisanal candles, that Alberto Morillas embarked on the entrepreneurial adventure. Today enriched with a line of eau de parfum, 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've been in the perfume industry for forty-five years and I can tell you that even after all these years, it's still the same passion that drives me. At Firmenich, I have always had the opportunity to create without taboos and without limits, and I am delighted to be able to continue to collaborate with them today, and for a few years to come.
Mizensir's idea came quite naturally. Twenty years ago, Patrick Firmenich asked me to create a line of candles in order to offer them to the company's good customers. Faced with the success of this range, he then encouraged me to develop my own brand of artisanal candles, entirely handmade in a workshop in Geneva. This is how Mizensir was born.
How would you define brand identity?
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 "waxed" while allowing ourselves 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 manage to never get tired?
I kept the same creative energy, and I still see perfumery with child's eyes. I am also fortunate to work with a company that invests heavily in research and new molecules, which allows me to have a constantly renewed playing field.
What do you think is your greatest talent?
Passion! I think it's essential to excel in what you do, to constantly renew yourself and to know how to stay in tune with the times.
How do the creative processes differ depending on whether you are designing for 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 expense and I can go much further in the creation, I am completely free On the other hand, certain elements remain intangible, and in particular in terms of philosophy of perfume: it's about evoking grandeur, simplicity, and creating something different.
How long does the process of creating a perfume usually take?
It varies a lot, it can last from a month to three years. It's very difficult to know when to stop, like a book or a work of art, we always want to extend, and we are always a little nostalgic when we come to the end of it. It is difficult to define if the creation is finished, and it is moreover rarely the last version that we choose. For Kenzo Flower, for example, it was the third version that had been chosen... out of more than 4,000 tests! The story of the perfume is invisible, it is the emotion it gives us that is important.
What do you think makes some perfumes stand the test of time and not others?
For many, it's mostly down to the 'identify. Twenty years ago, Acqua di Gio was not trendy at all, today it is timeless. Same for CK One by Calvin Klein.
How do you perceive the perfume industry today?
I find that if everyone is capable of creating beautiful perfumes, beautiful bottles , the sector sometimes lacks a bit of audacity. Obviously, this is very expensive, but many brands prefer to invest in the image rather than in the juice. I think we are experiencing a turning point in the perfume industry. Consumers are faced with a lot of choice, but also counterfeits and products of hazardous quality. It's up to the brands to become more serious in order to restore the profession to its former glory.
Do you have a favorite material?
Cypriol. It 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 to the rose. Materials, formulas, there are millions of them in perfumery, what matters is the story you are going to write with.
Do you think brands and retailers need to offer more in-store experiences to their customers?
We are in a world of consumption, people who buy perfumes do not need to be explained to them. It is a lonely moment for epicureans who like to discover and follow their impressions.
What is your greatest pride as a perfumer?
Having passionate customers, having certain great classics under my belt, but above all continuing to be as passionate as forty years ago, and continue to cherish those creative moments.
Interview by Kathy O’MENY and Mathilda PANIGADA
ABC - LUXE.com July 2017