The word serendipity finds its origin in the fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, in which the sovereigns constantly travel in the search for something specific, and end up finding another – a casual encounter, which is not just accidental, but also necessary. And just like that, in a similar way, during his travels to the Middle East, Lorenzo Villoresi stumbled upon the world of perfumes and fragrances. What started out as a hobby, in time, developed into a deep interest, and then escalated until it turned into a true profession driven by passion and a breakthrough vocation; a growth journey across culture, memories, aromas and sensations, constantly striving for innovation and excellence.
An innate talent that has led Lorenzo Villoresi to open his own perfumery maison in Florence in 1990, and then to establish himself among the most renowned creators of unique fragrances in the world. Each of his creations is a true artistic production, free from ties to fashions and trends. Lorenzo Villoresi’s fragrances are conceived and are born with the goal of turning a vision, a memory or an idea into a harmonious aroma, capable of reminiscing specific moments and sensations.
Lorenzo Villoresi is a true artisan of perfumes. In fact, at his atelier in via de’ Bardi, in the historical centre of Florence, it is still possible to create and buy bespoke fragrances. An art in its own right, which, mixed with the natural talent of the Tuscan perfumer, triggered a magical and balanced nexus, capable of bringing to life innovative and exciting projects. A blatant example of this is the recent Centre-Academy of the Art of Perfumes, where an actual “museum” of smells and an aromatic garden will be the backdrop for didactic, formative and informational activities tied to the world of fragrances. Here, adults and children alike will be able to discover the charm and secrets of the world of Lorenzo Villoresi, that of perfumes, which dates back to ancient civilizations but that is also projected to the future.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Lorenzo Villoresi, who let us take a peek into this multifaceted and fascinating field.
Lorenzo, what pushed you to embark on a journey in such a complicated field? And would you do it again?
When I began to show an interest in the world of perfumes, I had no idea, and I probably could not even imagine how complicated this field actually was. Ironically, during my trips as a student, especially in Egypt, I came across a world that was completely tinged with odours and perfumes of all sorts (from foods, to spices, to ointments and incenses used during rituals, to aromatic beverages and even tobacco…). I began to cultivate a hobby and started to collect and mix together essences, extracts, aromatic plants and exotic spices. However, soon enough, the hobby became a passion and then, finally, an actual profession.
Would I do it again? Yes. Even if it has been very demanding. The world of perfumery, and in particular that of haute couture perfumery, has changed a lot in the past years. However, I created my own path and never followed fashions and trends, and I continue to follow my path as I have always done.
To run a business is always more complex these days. What has been, or have been, the most important challenge(s) that you have had to face?
The most important one is, perhaps, my most recent one: the creation of our Centre-Academy of the Art of Perfumes. It is an absolutely innovative project, which has committed us for many years, first through the restructuring of the headquarters, and now with the definition of the contents and the organization of the activity.
Your company has now become a true reference point in the global landscape of perfumery. What do you want to, or what can you do to consolidate your position?
We must try to constantly improve every aspect or our company, even by producing new fragrances and original products, besides maintaining an excellent quality of service. Thanks to our Centre-Academy of the Art of Perfumes, we hope to also achieve a development of the general awareness towards our field.
All the major brand names in the world have a perfume line these days. How do you plan to differentiate yourselves from the industrial products of these major brands from the fashion and luxury fields?
By remaining true to ourselves and trying to improve our specific field, which is high-quality perfumery. This is because major brands (even the smaller ones) don’t just have one or more perfumes, they brand any sort of object, from watches to bathroom tiles, instead, it is already hard enough to do well one job, and there is a great need for quality and authenticity. In this moment, our sector is one of the most mixed-up ones, with hundreds of fragrances that are rolled out every year, oftentimes not lacking in improvisation. The public and those who have a passion for this field are confused, but so are the resellers, who do not know what to believe or choose anymore. Moreover, we differentiate ourselves because of the originality, the quality and the intrinsic value of our fragrances.
We know that you have studied many essences around the world to create your products. How much does the travel component matter for you? And is it still possible to discover new essences?
Sometimes, even today, travelling can be the most important aspect. For example, we discovered that in Mexico there is a tree that produces an aromatic resin called Copal, which was used by Mayan populations as incense, and which could be produced and used in larger quantities. Instead, in Java, Indonesia, where one of the absolute best Vetivers was traditionally made, production has been interrupted, however, thanks to a series of contacts with manufacturers, some of them would be available to restart production. The same goes for Sandalwood, which is always more rare, as well as for other, noteworthy aromatic plants.
Smell is a very particular sense for the human body. How much do you try and link your essences to sensations and memories tied to specific situations or places? And how do you achieve this?
We wish to translate sensations tied to a specific vision into our perfumes. This does not mean that we must force the process of trying to rebuild the description of a vision, but to evoke the sensations tied to it. To translate a vision into fragrance is not that simple, because each aromatic material has its peculiar characteristics, and must be used maintaining the correct proportions. Therefore, it is not enough to take some essential characteristics of the environment we wish to evoke and mix them together, we must take care of all the different hues, we must consider that some essences are very powerful and others are very delicate, some have a sensual and beguiling character, while others, conversely, are fresh and brisk. We must balance all these elements amongst each other in order to obtain a fragrances that is not only pleasant, but also capable of evoking an emotion.
For the very reason that an odour is always connected to a situation, how much is odour important for you during an event? Do you have any bits of advice for our readers in this sense?
An odour that is connected to a situation can be a determining factor during an event. However, since taste is subjective, I would advise to use different smells with moderation, because what one person likes may not be the same for other people. Moreover, our sense of smell works differently from our other senses, for example, hearing. In fact, if I increase the volume, I hear it as always louder. If, instead, I increase the intensity and quantity of an odour, I will cause an inurement by which that same odour is detected always less, hence becomes pointless.
Do you believe it is possible to amplify the sensations and aromas of food through a bespoke plant and floral decoration that perfectly marries the menu?
I believe so. I have seen convenience stores use the aroma of porcini mushrooms or truffles to solicit interest and appetite of customers. Years ago, a friend of mine opened a restaurant in Paris, Macis et Muscade, where the plates were prepared by using essences and spices, which were properly diluted or melted in oil and butter. It is also possible to obtain pleasant effects with harmonic aromatic decorations that marry the planned menu.
We thank Lorenzo Villoresi for his availability and kindness.