The nose behind Bulgari’s newest masculine scent explains its aquatic influences.
FOR Bulgari’s latest masculine fragrance, Aqua Amara, it turned to none other than renowned perfumer Jacques Cavallier.
It was a repeat collaboration; almost a decade ago, Cavallier concocted the best-selling Aqua Pour Homme for the Italian luxury house.
As the new scent is inspired by oranges, lemons and elements of the Mediterranean, Cavallier revisited some of the influences he used on Aqua Pour Homme, mixing them up with a new selection of natural ingredients including Tunisian neroli essence, Sicilian mandarins and Indonesian patchouli.
Growing up surrounded by the jasmine fields of Grasse, Cavallier’s earliest memory of the scent is of harvesting blossoms at 5am.
During his childhood, when his father introduced him to the olfactive molecule Hedione, Cavallier knew that he would become a perfumer.
He earned his baccalaureate at 16 and joined Charabot, passing from stokehole to distillery, chromatography to chemicals. He did his scales religiously, noting his impressions according to Edmond Roudnitska’s method of “olfactive study by contrast”.
Cavallier’s successes in the fine fragrance market earned him the title of Master Perfumer at Firmenich, in 2000. In 2004, he was honoured with the coveted “Prix François Coty”.
Asked about his inspiration for Aqua Amara, Jacques replies (in a press release) that emotion can be sourced everywhere: from travels to chance encounters, to everyday life with his wife and two young daughters. An accomplished cook, he favours Mediterranean dishes because “you can convey so many emotions with very few ingredients.”
Observes Cavallier, “I love giving a product a certain quality – it is never about pleasing the greatest number of people. It is about
creating something that is true in the long term.”
Although he declines to name a favourite flower, all of Cavallier’s perfumes include rose, which he appreciates for its blend of masculine and feminine characteristics. For him, the act of creation is a dialogue that can last a lifetime: he has been refining a jasmine accord for 25 years, out of pure passion.
“Pleasure is the key,” he notes. “This is a solitary profession; the joy comes from sharing.”
Where his work for Bulgari scents is concerned, Cavallier notes: “Water is an important part of Bulgari’s history.
“In 2004, I created Aqua, a deep, pure, refreshing water with aroma-tic accents that make this masculine fragrance absolutely seductive,” explains Cavallier.
This collection, inspired by Bulgari’s Greco-Roman heritage, continues with Aqua Amara, which is another vision of an aquatic fragrance.
“For this fragrance, I wanted to convey an idea of water rich in oligo-elements,” muses Cavallier. “A water that purifies, that radiates sunlight when worn.”
For Cavallier, the bottle’s copper hue was a strong inspiration.
“I knew that we needed warmth to contrast the freshness of this fragrance. It was this particular colour that pushed me toward the idea of the richness of Aqua Amara.”
According to Cavallier, Aqua Amara means “bitter water”.
“This notion of bitterness is strongly anchored in the history of Italy, especially its cuisine, in which there is always a little bitterness in the sweet. This is the central accord in the creation of the fragrance,” says Cavallier.
The Sicilian Mandarin, which is central to Aqua Amara, expresses different characteristics throughout the life of the fragrance: vibrant and dynamic at the top, floral in the middle and fruity at the base.
“I reworked the raw essence of the mandarin to re-establish the balance between fruitiness and bitterness. Only the noblest, richest and most faceted essence was reserved,” enthuses Cavallier.
As a contrast to the slightly sweeter mandarin essence, neroli is used.
“This essence is extremely interesting because it has a fresh, floral, orange tree aspect. Gentle, of course, but what is interesting is that it has a faintly bitter spike.”
Indonesian patchouli is also a pivotal ingredient.
“To give Aqua Amara a different, complementary signature, I created an essence of patchouli obtained through fractioning,” explains Cavallier.
“For the first time in perfumery, we were able to isolate patchoulol (the olfactive principle of patchouli) and were able to use it in the fragrance. Patchoulol is extremely perfumed, woody and elegant. It gives Aqua Amara its signature, one that is gentle, yet strong and woody – a tranquil strength on your skin.”
Last but certainly not least, Cavallier incorporated olibanum.
“I wanted a heart note of incense with a slight smokiness that is not normally characteristic of olibanum and I wanted this fresh effect, a prolonged aldehyde note lasting until the dry-down that would give Aqua Amara its mineral character.
“The pleasurableness of freshness allied with mineral ingredients, and notes of wood and olibanum express the richness of the Roman world so precious to Bulgari,” concludes Cavallier.
> Bulgari’s Aqua Amara EDT is priced at RM256 (50ml) and RM345 (100ml) and will be available at major department stores next month.
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