When we think of rich engulfing fragrances, when we think luxury, when we think full bodied generous perfumes we think initially of France of Grasse, because how could we not? It’s ingrained in our psyche as the home of fragrance, and to be fair they do make a staggering amount of fragrances. But before we go further, there are actually deep histories for perfumes all over the globe, the Arabian peninsula, the British isles, Italy, all of whom plus many more, have their own journeys steeped in this story-telling via scent.
But Spain may not be one of the other countries that jumps to mind, but it does have such a rich history of scent. In fact Spain has a long long history of fragrance which may owe a debt to the Muslims living and bringing their culture to the society. Another important part of the history of perfume in Spain is the period under Franco. The dictator ruled over the country from 1939 until his death in 1975. He rose to power during the bloody Spanish Civil War with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, his Nationalist forces overthrew the democratically elected Second Republic.
One of his edicts was that nothing should be produced in Spain that was not made from Spanish goods, and that no imports were allowed. He initially pursued a policy of autarky, cutting off almost all international trade. This, therefore, directly effected the perfume industry that as a result of this, was able to create cologne style scents as there is and was a plethora of citrus growing in Spain. So naturally Spanish perfumes were and are juicy citrus fresh fragrances. Colonia (the Spanish for cologne) still is very typical Spanish perfumery. It’s fresh and clean smell is associated with Spaniards of all ages. Spanish children are often bathed in great smelling colonia while adults also splash on these popular scents.
There are now thankfully a handful of truly great perfumes coming from Spain like Ramon Monegal, designer perfumes from brands like Balenciaga, Aldofo Dominques, and Loewe. Then there are are heritage brands like Santa Eulalia and Alvarez Gomez or other well known brands like Oliver and Company and Carner Barcelona. One of the reasons is that one of the biggest producers of fragrance is the Spanish company Puig, a third-generation family-owned fashion and fragrance business based in Barcelona.
Yet one of the most famous of Spanish perfumers has yet to be mentioned. Alberto Morillas. Born in Sevilla, in 1950, his first experiences of scent were with his father who, as was the tradition, combed his hair and scented himself with a cologne, which would have been purchased for little expense from the local pharmacy. This fragrance of cleanliness, is characteristic of all Colognes that was and still is close to his heart. At aged 11 he moved with his family to Switzerland where his love of scent continued so much that with a degree in chemistry, he managed to convince the brand Firmenich in Geneva to offer him a job. Over the years he created many famous fragrances such as Calvin Klein CK One, Kenzo Flower, Bvlgari Omnia, Cartier Panthere de Cartier and Giorgio Armani’s Aqua di Giò for women. He has won prestigious Prix François Coty in 2003 amongst many other prises. He set up his own line Mizensir, in 1999 initially selling candles which he then expanded into a range of fragrances.
One constant that runs through all his Mizensir fragrances is his use of Musk, which he explains he uses almost like a fixative and expander of fragrance. It’s the seat of every fragrance he does, and he applies it according to each need and the unique character of each scent and so finding different facets for each. It’s not that it’s overwhelming in any fragrance per se but its part of his perfume DNA that is present yet subtle. It is almost with the same relish that he has gone back to his own history and culture with a new collection of cologne styled fragrances. Traditionally a cologne means light, fresh and fruity, typically composed of 2% – 4% perfume oils in alcohol and water. And can contain a mixture of citrus oils of Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Clementine, Bergamot, Lime, Grapefruit, Blood Orange, and Bitter Orange.
There are currently 22 perfumes in the collection, for which Alberto Morillas has chosen a simple yet elegant crystal glass bottle with clean lines, ornamented with a gold or silver plate. His latest two perfumes are to be added to the range, and are Poudre D’or, a floral oriental fragrance and Celebes Wood which has a spicy woody scent.
When the magician can stop a day and capture a moment: it’s night, the candles are out glowing like golf dust. It’s soft and calm as we prepare for night, a magical etherial time of which he says
“I chose a narrow palette to get straight to the essentials and to transcribe the lightness of three elements: gold, powder and the light”
The top notes: Tiare flower, Paradisone®
The heart notes: Exaltone®, Iris
The base notes: Sandalwood essence, Madagascar Vanilla®
An imaginary journey to Celebes Island, Sulawesi. Spices and woods, dense and powerful greet you as you enter this extraordinary forest on the other side of the world. The sun is at its peak, the heat awakens the senses. Advance little by little through the forest and the smells intensify: burning cinnamon barks, intoxicating cardamom seeds… Then white pepper with its sparkling note and the sensual indulgence of black vanilla pods. Hot and cold spices mingle, followed by accents of tonka bean and luxurious labdanum. Gradually, the intensity of the fragrances blend with the skin. Again he says
Celebes Wood is a spice wood. It instantly invites to travel but in a totally dreamlike way. I didn’t want to evoke a typical forest that smells like wet moss and green branches but rather tell of my dream of an exotic forest full of fragrant spices. I’ve left a lot of room for spicy notes by playing with contrasts. The woody accents are mainly carried by the clearwood, this new generation patchouli
Top notes: Bergamot, Cardamom, Geranium
Heart Notes: Cinnamon, Cistus, White Pepper, Tonka Bean
Base Notes: Styrax, Patchouli, Madagascar Vanilla, Musk
Just in case that was not enough, coming soon are a collection of colognes; which of course speak so much about his own personal heritage. But being one of the greats, he has taken the ideas of colognes a massive step forward.
The first three are:
Coeur De Cologne, Cologne de Figuier and Cologne du mate.
All three have their core in cologne i.e citrus fresh but have been adapted to create something totally new with this most historical styles of fragrance.
Coeur De Cologne
With top notes of Bergamot, Neroli, Mandarin and Lemon on the surface, we have a cologne but don’t be so sure. Its middle notes continue but adds florals with Orange Blossom and Petitgrain, but at the base surprises with Solar Wood and Radiant Musk; its a fresh hit yet with a deeply sexy tone.
Cologne de Figuier
Again this has top notes that include citrus like Grapefruit and Calabrian Bergamot, yet sitting with this is Fig Leaf and Ambrox, which then follow on in the middle with Violet Leaf, Galbanum and Pepper. At the base sits Musk, Solar Wood and Vanilla; a sexy creamy fruity scent
Cologne du mate.
This has the same sharp fresh cologne, still topped with Neroli, Mandarin, Lemon and Petitgrain. Following on with Geranium, Mate, Iris and Sage. With this sexy musks Vetiver Solar Wood again and Cedar making for a deeper musky green version.
The collection of five in total will be out soon but keep up to date at the website mizensir.com