With any fragrance launch, there is a cause for celebration. Scent is so deeply tied to memory and human experience, that a great fragrance can really be the difference between a meaningful encounter and a forgettable one. Some of us scoop up new fragrances by the armful and wear a new scent for every occasion, while others stick to their signature favorites for a lifetime. However, Bvlgari’s new fragrance launch of the ‘Allegra’ collection is markedly different from the rest.
Colorful bottles are like collectable jewels for your vanity, but within is contained an emotional journey. ‘Dolce Estasi’, ‘Fantasia Veneta’, ‘Fiori d’Amore’, ‘Riva Solare’, and ‘Rock’n’Rome’ are the fragrances that comprise the collection, and each speaks to Bulgari’s distinct Italian DNA. Some relate to family, others to romance and passion, and still others to the joie de vivre of living life to its fullest.
What makes them different is the additional layer Bulgari has added to the collection – layering being a key idea to the collection. Marked with hashtag #MagnifyForMore, the ‘Allegra’ collection comes with a set of magnifying essences, which you can mix and match with the fragrances to create a unique scent identity. The essences are ‘Magnifying Bergamot’, ‘Magnifying Musk’, ‘Magnifying Patchouli’, ‘Magnifying Rose’, or ‘Magnifying Vanilla’.
Not only do the magnifying essences allow you to create a fragrance signature that is tailored to your preferences exactly, but it allows you to play. When we experienced the collection one of our favorite combinations was the amazing ‘Fantasia Veneta’ fragrance paired with ‘Magnifying Musk’.
With the launch of Bulgari’s ‘Allegra’ collection exclusively at Sephora Middle East, we took the time to sit down and speak with the Head of Bvlgari Perfume, Luis Miguel. Read on for his insights about why ‘Allegra’ is a fragrance journey that’s worth embarking on.
Your nose Jacques Cavallier is one of the best master perfumers in the world. Does he have a certain process for developing the fragrances? Can you speak to that?
Absolutely. Let’s talk about the example of ‘Allegra’. Every time we create a fragrance with Jacques, we take him through the inspiration first. Jacques is really good at understanding it because he loves Italy. He understands Italy and he has visited most of Italy. There are many Italian raw materials that are fantastic – from citric fruits in the South of Italy, to Cypress woods in Florence, to the earth in Tuscany. He has this ability to project himself to the place, to know its smells, colors, textures. That is when the master perfumer adds value in his capacity to transform those emotions, those feelings, those places, those textures into an olfactif. This is the art that neither you or me can do. It’s only people with this ability who can transform.
What’s the difference between being a nose and being a master perfumer?
I think you can train your nose. Are you going to be able to become a master perfumer? That’s different. That’s different because it requires more than just a nose. When you are a master perfumer you have a clear understanding of chemistry, clear understanding of raw materials, whether they’re natural or they’re synthetic. You need to be able to be innovative on the materials, which is something that Jacques is extremely knowledgeable about. You need to understand the chemistry behind the different types of extractions, distillations, and you need to have an artistic side that inspires your work. I think there are many variables in becoming a master perfumer or someone that can create fragrances.
The invisible veil of fragrance is what sometimes makes it hard to communicate what it’s about, but I think you capture that very well in your collection. You smell it: the joy, the seduction, the family, the romance. You understand innately what each fragrance means as soon as you smell it. What are your communication touch points for this market, as you’re talking about ‘Allegra’?
The critical and most important one is to understand that distribution is extremely limited. It’s only going to be distributed in Sephora. We’re starting with 20 doors in the entire region, and actually only 100 doors total worldwide that are going to carry this collection – at least in the first year, or two. We don’t master the art of selling, meaning, it’s not a sale that you just put in front of someone. People need to understand the concept of magnifying. Once we master that, we will expand.
Let’s discuss the magnifying component of the collection. When you’re asking a person about what kind of fragrances they’re drawn to, in your mind, are you matching them with a magnifier and you’re telling them, this is the one that accompanies this, or do you kind of let them play and figure out what goes best with what?
We guide them first. We will try to hook them with the Eau de Parfum first, because it’s easier to explain, you know, an emotion, the coloring, the olfactif, because in fact, you know, there is a floral or it’s a citrus flora. Depending on what they like about the eau de parfum we will introduce the magnifier. For example, we would say, ‘Oh, you love the rose scent. Why don’t you try to magnify it with a magnifying rose?’ Then, you have to see what happened.
They might say, ‘Oh, it’s too much rose. I would twist it or find another facet of that fragrance.’ And then we might suggest the magnifying vanilla or musk. There are 25 possible combinations.
Are there any combinations that you’re like, those don’t really work
This is very personal. I ultimately think it depends on each person. I would never personally mix ‘Fantasia Veneta’, which is the patchouli fragrance with the bergamot magnifier.
You were talking about the timeline for creating ‘Allegra’ and you said it took 18 months. ‘Allegra’ means joyous. Did the crises in the world prompt that response? Like a happy reaction? Or was it just coincidence?
You need to believe in the power of good luck.
It’s brilliant that it is happening the way it is.
My point of view is COVID or no COVID, there’s a lot of things that are not great in the world anyway. Whether it’s climate change, whether it’s political stability, wars here, wars there, dictatorships…people are depressed for many reasons. I think COVID came on top of all that. That’s another reason why we needed optimism, a big one, but it was just another one. It’s not the only one.
I think we as a brand are not just perfume. As a brand, we believe that our purpose is what we call sharing the joy of crafting the gems of nature. We actually want to give this intoxicating optimism, positivism, and colorful lifestyle to people where they see jewelers, hotels, as you are sitting today, or, you know, or watches, whatever that is. And also in perfumes. So COVID simply my mind accelerated, the intervention, and a bit of good luck.
What brought you to work at Bvlgari?
What brought me to Bvlgari was two things. First of all, I have a huge passion for what in Italian we call artigiana, which means it’s an artisanship. It’s the craftsmanship of producing products and experiences that are of the highest possible quality materials with this best savoir-faire. I am happy with this brand versus a competitor because it’s easy to create fragrances with the best master perfumers in the world. Jacques Cavallier is one, or Alberto Morillas. These are people that are the best in the world. There’s no limit in terms of creativity in this house. With Bvlgari, it is about igniting a passion, in fragrance, in hotels, in jewelry, in watches.
The other thing that got my attention is the marketing part of it. When I came here, my boss, the CEO said we need to elevate this business. You see, you have a high jewelry brand, which offers the highest possible experience in terms of jewelry, watches, accessories, and hotels. However, you have a fragrance that is highly distributed. With fragrance, we had all these positive craftsmanship assets that we had to bring to the level of the rest of the brand and make it much more exclusive.
Being less in terms of point of sales doesn’t mean we’re going to be smaller. The idea is by being in less, we become more exclusive. The right environment is going to help us to drive more sales in the right place. In the last three years or four years, since I’ve been here now, we’ve been completely reconstructing the entire business model of the brand. I’m going to give you an example. In many countries, we are in the top ten. In some countries, in China, we’re in the top five. With my business model, I put my money on the product. I create pull, I don’t create marketing push.
I always say, it’s not about the quantity of followers. It’s about the quality of the followers. I’d rather have an account of 200,000 followers with a 10% engagement rate than an account of a million followers with 2% engagement rates. It’s what I do in my entire business. I would rather have less doors with higher productivity per door, or I’d rather have less products with higher sales per product. I’d rather have less, but more. That’s what probably I’d identify as the opportunity for coming here. It’s doing really well, and we’re really happy.