Introducing Mizensir founder Alberto Morillas as the man who created CK One is probably a little misleading, although he did do exactly that, in 1994, which went on to become the defining fragrance of that decade’s minimal, androgynous identity. He then – as part of fragrance powerhouse Firmenich – created some of the designer fragrance world’s most iconic lines: Carolina Herrera’s 212 in all of its guises; DSquared’s Wood; Estée Lauder’s Pleasures; many for Giorgio Armani including Acqua di Gio; every diffusion of Issey Miyake’s L’Eau D’Issey; Kenzo’s Flower and Marc Jacobs’s Daisy; the other Nineties icon, Tommy; the fragrance that sparked the revolution of oud fragrances, YSL’s M7; and the one that throws me back to my late teens and early twenties – Thierry Mugler’s Cologne – that is still a favourite today.
Morillas was born in Spain in 1950, moving to Geneva at ten years old and later studying fine art. His decision to pursue a career in perfumery came after reading about Jean-Paul Guerlain in Vogue. At 20 he joined Firmenich – the world’s largest privately owned fragrance business – eventually gaining a perfumery diploma in New York in 1975. He became a Master Perfumer at Firmenich in 1988, launching Mizensir – the first and only to bear his name – as a line of candles in 1999 and the fragrances last year.As the nose behind iconic fragrance counter staples, he had the knowledge of what makes a great scent, but he wanted his personal line to stand out, elevated above those that you can find “anywhere” and even beyond the niche fragrance market that has grown exponentially in the past few years.
“What is niche today?” he asked, while presenting his fragrance line in Claridge’s Hotel, flanked by his wife – impeccably dressed from head (Hermes) to toe (Chanel) – and daughter who are part of the business too. “Niche can be very expensive, or cheap, or a certain thing. I don’t want to create niche; I want to create excellence. The very best materials and molecules, the best you can find anywhere.”
It is that, and the complete freedom that he has in creating the scents that makes Mizensir excellent, and it really is excellent. The honesty in which he communicates his vision makes you fall in love with the man – choosing not to read the release of his latest fragrance ‘Little Bianca’ created for his granddaughter, as it “may make him cry” – and the scents do the same for the brand. He creates a fragrance firstly as experimentation, trying new ideas, new discoveries and smelling what works well together. Only after does he think of the woman or man that may wear it. That choice is purely up to the wearer, with each fragrance unisex, the silver or gold on the bottle depicting the lighter and bolder scents respectively.
“She is very elegant, perfect, probably wearing white,” he says, imagining the woman wearing Luxury, one of the 17 scents that retail currently. “When I create the fragrance, I do not create for a man or a woman, but I create from experience and memories, my travels and passions, and then that becomes a person. That is exactly what happened with Little Bianca with all those beautiful fragrances of the Mediterranean.”The fragrance line which launches in the UK from July covers all tastes: a peculiarly addictive blend of ginger, citrus and neroli in Eau de Gingembre; the eastern woodiness of Bois de Mysore; the fresh, peppery notes of L’Envers du Paradis; and the masculine and leathery Perfect Oud, which epitomises Morillas’s aim of creating excellence.
Exclusive to Harrods when it launches in Britain and already a favourite in Colette in Paris, Mizensir is raising the bar for niche fragrance, whatever “niche” is.
Available from Harrods in July, £165 for 100ml.
Words by Mikael Jack