Gabriella Scarpa has years of experience in skillfully managing high performance divisions at Yves Saint Laurent, Cartier, Swatch, and Christian Dior. Today she is President of LVMH (Louis Vuitton S.A.• Moët Hennessy) Italia, CEO and President of Acqua di Parma, and Country General Manager of Christian Dior Couture Italia.
You grew up in Milano: how did this city influence you?
I am from Milan and my family is from Venice. I believe that my origins, deeply rooted in Venice, have lead to my deep passion and interest in this country, its beauty, and its capacity for expression. Overall, I am extremely proud to be Italian, to have my roots in a country with such a unique and unrepeatable history, a country with tremendous capacity. That is why I am so proud to be celebrating the “2013 Year of Italian Culture” in the United States with our two wonderful projects La Nobiltà del Fare* and the Roberto Bolle and Friends Gala.**
François Demachy is the creator of all LVMH fragrances but you also have an important part in the conception: can you walk us through the creative process? How do you make a new perfume?
I would say that the conception of each fragrance is really the work of our entire team. It is a very long process which requires strong attention to details, just like all of our products that we create here at Acqua di Parma. Luckily enough, we have François Demachy, one of the most famous noses in the world, working for us. He is the creator of all our LVMH fragrances. He loves Acqua di Parma and because of his connections, we were able to have the famous fragrance houses create the ingredients exactly as we wanted them. Now with François Demachy, we work with Italian producers, many of which are in the South of Italy with their own plantations. They work almost exclusively for us.
Acqua di Parma has a presence in 39 countries across Europe, Asia, and the US; how often do you travel?
I travel a lot for business and I love to travel! It is a huge part of my lifestyle. I¹ve traveled all around the globe, but my favorite cities are New York, London, and Paris. They are so full of excitement. I have also come to enjoy China very much. My favorite country, however, will always be Italy- so rich in its beauty, culture and history. And, travelling for Acqua di Parma, I enjoy seeing how the brand is sold in countries around the world and meeting people who really enjoy our Italian style.
You are obviously a very busy person; what is your typical workday like?
Honestly, there is no typical workday, and that is part of what I love so much about my job. One day I may be in Milan brainstorming our next fragrance, the next I may be in New York giving a speech on the importance of Italian Culture. Acqua di Parma is both deeply Italian, deriving all of its ingrediants from Italy, and deeply international. I believe it¹s safe to say that I am as well!
Acqua di Parma is approaching its hundredth anniversary and the classic Colonia, the first fragrance, is still the most successful product. Why?
Acqua di Parma is a brand that prides itself on its timelessness and its ability to cross-generations. Colonia, represents that same timeless elegance. The fragrance made its debut in Parma in 1916 at a small artisan workshop and has conquered the world in just under 100 years. It is the very first true Italian eau de cologne. It is fresh, radiant, and unusual. Even its Art Deco bottle has remained an undisputed style icon for decades.Simply put, it is a classic.
Is Iris Nobile still your favorite fragance?
Iris Nobile is my fragrance. I always wear it because it very much reflects my personality. When I was younger, I was a huge fan of Miss Dior 1947, my signature scent. After a while, the original Miss Dior 1947 perfume was discontinued and I was suddenly lost. This was the moment for Acqua di Parma to enter the female world. Women had been asking for this product for a long time, and now I was among those who were asking. Iris Nobile represents the classic, elegant and modern woman. It is for this reason that I knew it had to be a chypre floral scent. I thought of Iris as the emblem of the city of Florence and the symbol of aristocracy, of beautiful Italian villas, and all of the famous gardens. The Iris is a very delicate flower. They only bloom fifteen days a year. Once you have the concrete, you have to wait three years for it to dry. It is extremely expensive, in fact nobody in the perfumery used the extract because of its value. We launched Iris Nobile in 2004 and it was immediately a huge success. I love it and will always love it. It is a fragrance that I feel deeply connected with.
La Nobiltà del Fare* This luxury book published by Electa, with photos by Giovanni Gastel, tells 23 excellent stories about the noble savoir faire that Italy has been mastering since the Renaissance, of which Roberto Bolle is one of the most outstanding representatives.
Roberto Bolle and Friends Gala.** This special evening will see some of the most exquisite dancers from the most famous ballet companies sharing the spotlight with Roberto Bolle to perform a selection of solos and pas de deux from the treasured classic and modern ballets of the 1900s. The performance will be at New York City Center, September 17, 2013. Presale tickets are on sale NOW.
2013- The Year of Italian Culture in the United States is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the General Italian Consulate in New York, the Ministry of Cultural Assets and Activities, and the Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE).