A Master Perfumer’s Secrets: What Goes Into a Winning Fragrance

The name Alberto Morillas may not readily ring a bell. Perhaps this might help: He was born in Seville, Spain, then moved to Switzerland at the age of 10. He shuttles between his offices in Geneva, New York, and Paris. And he’s in the business of creating scent. If the name is still not familiar, you’ll surely know of his work.

The 69-year-old Morillas is the esteemed nose behind many fragrances we’ve come to know as classics in the global beauty industry. Here’s a short list: the Panthère de Cartier (1987), Calvin Klein’s CK One (1994), Flower by Kenzo (2000), Marc Jacobs’ Daisy (2007), and Bvlgari’s Omnia (2003) and Rose Goldea (2016), among many others — many of these are as popular today as when they were launched. Naturally, we wonder: “What is this master perfumer’s winning formula? What does Morillas know that we don’t?”

When we caught wind that Morillas was launching a sister iteration to the Rose Goldea — christened Rose Goldea Blossom Delight — this month, we nabbed some time with him for a chat. It turns out, his formula is simple: he has an utmost reverence for nature. And in the case of his new perfume, the fragrance composition is anchored by the potpourri of roses, cultivated in different countries, incorporated in the middle and base notes of this perfume.


His Work Process:

I usually start with a single idea — with an accord of different ingredients that I feel will be the core of the fragrance, and an interesting answer to the needs of a new project. I then add other notes that help to add dimension and uniqueness. From that point, all future modifications are done in communication with others working on the project until we reach the moment when we mutually feel the fragrance is complete.


His Creative Intention Behind the Rose Goldea Blossom Delight:

In this new edition Rose Goldea Blossom Delight, it is the naturality which I wanted to seize. The freshness of rosebuds at sunrise, its leaves of a vibrating green, and this magic flower which opens slowly to offer us a fabulous fragrance.


What’s In the Bottle:

For Rose Goldea Blossom Delight, I used three different qualities of rose. A natural Rosa Damascena distilled in Turkey, in the beautiful region of Isparta. I combined the richness of this extract to the innovative profile of a rose bud extract of Rosa Centifolia from Grasse… I’ve completed the full profile of roses with a pure absolute of Rosa Damascena from Bulgaria, giving an opulent floral scent in the signature.

Rose Goldea Blossom Delight by Bvlgari


On the Fragrance Industry’s Obsession With Roses:

Rose has always been the queen of the floral kingdom in perfumery. Rose scents offer an iconic floralcy highly accepted around the world from the Middle East to Asia and the United States where the smell of the flower represents femininity and the essence of pink. Fragrances in this territory are easy to understand and have evolved towards a fresh and natural feel.


On the Hidden Ritual of Rose-Picking:

The history of rose through ages and cultures is fascinating. Being at the heart of the valley of roses in Grasse, in Bulgaria, or in Turkey, is always a wonderful and privileged experience — the ritual of the pickers, collecting flowers corolla by corolla every day, bags filled with flowers, the discovery of sublime landscapes, the fields [stretch] as far as the eye can see, and the flowery valleys surrounded by mountains. For a creator, it is essential to have these men, women [and their] families who have been passionate about this job for a long time. They are holders of a know- how [from] a mythical land. Rose is a fragile flower and needs to be harvested in the morning when it still [holds] the freshness of the night, and when the caress of the first rays of sunlight reveals its perfume.


How Roses Are Made Into Perfumes:

The [picked] roses are quickly brought to the extractor and, in order to avoid oxidation and fermentation, the flowers are spread on the ground and processed as fast as possible. Rose absolute from Bulgaria is obtained by volatile solvent extraction — [when] in contact with rose petals, solvents capture olfactive compounds and harden into rose concrete. The absolute is then obtained by rinsing this concrete with alcohol to eliminate waxes and pigments. We need to harvest 350 flowers to [make] one kilogramme… [and it takes] 300,000 flowers to produce one kilogramme of absolute!


The essence of rose from Turkey is obtained by steam distillation of rose petals. Rose petals are introduced with water into a still, which is heated to boiling temperature. About four tonnes of flowers are required to obtain one kilogramme of essence. And in Grasse, for the Rosa Centifolia — during the blooming season in May, flowers are hand-picked during the early morning hours. Seven to nine kilogrammes of flowers are collected per hour. Producers then bring their daily harvests in burlap bags to the Firmenich extraction site in Tourrettes, Var, France.


Rose Goldea Blossom Delight is available in Singapore at major departmental stores and Sephora. This article was first seen in ELLE Singapore’s October issue.