Gucci Guilty Absolute
Alessandro Michele has not been shy about his grand vision for Gucci since being appointed creative director in 2015. The latest example of this ambition comes with the launch of the bold new fragrance, Gucci Guilty Absolute.
It’s a big one for the Italian fashion goliath. With some previous false starts when it comes to fragrances, vast amounts of time (and expense) has gone to ensure that Gucci Guilty Absolute represents Michele’s romanticised aesthetic. In short, this is the first scent from a revamped strategy that could make or break the brand’s fragrance division.
Aware of the pressure to ensure that the scent does his vision justice, Michele enlisted the skills of one of the world’s most celebrated maître parfumeurs. Alberto Morillas is the man behind hundreds of fragrances, including icons CK One and Aqua di Gio.
Guilty Absolute is a very much a man’s fragrance. It has leather as its key ingredient – an homage to Gucci’s history – giving the wearer an instant warm, woody sensation. While it is undoubtedly a contemporary scent, the packaging is hugely influenced by classic masculine touch points including a bottle in the shape of a hip-flask and a box made from cigar paper.
To find out more about the thought processes behind this scent, Esquire Middle East sat down with Morillas to explore the creative process.
ESQUIRE: What was the brief that Alessandro Michele gave you?
Alberto Morillas: There was no brief. Instead we met for a chat where Alessandro explained to me his vision for Gucci and described a particular emotion he wanted me to capture. My task was to interpret that emotion.
That sounds a bit abstract. Did he give you any touch points?
He didn’t mention if it should be masculine or feminine, but he wanted me to combine the history of Gucci with his emotion, and ensure it had a signature. He stressed that it should be very high quality and that it was important that creativity was the driver behind the project.
How did you do that?
This is a bold new project for Gucci. It is a rebirth of the brand’s fragrance line, so they gave me almost total freedom to create. Leather is central to Gucci’s history, so that was one thing I wanted to celebrate. Leather and wood. Not only were we able to use very high quality ingredients, but for this scent we actually developed three brand new exclusive molecules. We developed a new oud molecule and a new patchouli one. Both have been patented so they cannot be replicated.
That sounds like a very expensive process.
It was, but that sense of quality is very important. A fragrance is not a necessity. You don’t need it to survive, therefore it should be a joy to buy. It needs to evoke emotion and you need to make it desirable. Gucci is taking a risk by deciding against making a mass-market fragrance. You may love it or hate it, but you will have an opinion.
How long did it take to formulate the finished scent?
We did only 25 modifications. Some warm, some less warm, some sweet, some heavier. I presented Alessandro with ten variations and he knew the one he wanted. I was very surprised. Sometimes I work on a fragrance for two years! This one only took me six months.
Of the hundreds of fragrances you’ve created, some are the most successful of all time. Do you know when you’ve nailed it?
You never know. It’s like a film in that you have no idea if it will be a success or not. When I made Aqua di Gio, I never knew that it would be a bestseller 22 years later. Men traditionally don’t like to change their scent, so the big challenge is getting them to try something new.
Do men tend to be drawn to certain notes?
Men rarely talk about ingredients. They talk about emotions. They will ask for something that will make them feel seductive or confident. A women will say she wants something that smells like a rose.
Gucci Guilty Absolute is available from April 1. Dhs430 for 90ml. gucci.com