Acqua di Parma is no strange name to the average person. Synonymous with luxury, sophistication and Italian elegance, one glance of its distinctive yellow hue will call upon a recognition that is enviable and desired.
A brand steeped in a rich history, the name Acqua di Parma dates back to 1916, where its small perfume factory in the historic old town of Parma created the company’s original fragrance, Colonia; a scent that is still made to this day.
Colonia, in all of its glory, represents everything people love about Italy. One smell of its distinctive scent will take you to a place that is sunny, sophisticated and effortlessly elegant. A true global icon of Italian style, Acqua di Parma is one of those brands that your grandfather used, who passed it down to your father who then passed it onto you.
We were fortunate enough to speak with the CEO & President of Acqua di Parma, Laura Burdese, reflecting on the aspects that make up this truly respected brand.
Man of Style: Hi Laura. Can you tell us a bit about the history of Acqua di Parma and how and why it started?
Laura Burdese: It all began in 1916 in a small essential oil workshop in the heart of old Parma where Carlo Magnani, a man of great elegance and refinement, heir to a noble family of Parma, created a fragrance that could remind him of Parma, Italy, his family and the Italian sun. This is how Colonia, our iconic fragrance, has born.
Since then, Colonia has continued to exert an immutable appeal, sprayed by skilled Italian tailors on suits as a finishing touch and onto an international elite of connoisseurs. Refined, cultured men, and elegant, sophisticated women found in Acqua di Parma the expression of a luxury that is not showy and showcases the heritage of a brand which stems from the experience of Italian craftsmanship.
MoS: And what does Acqua di Parma represent today?
LB: Since 2001, we have been a part of LVMH, which supported the internationalisation of the brand, keeping intact the beauty and the authenticity of such a fascinating brand. Over the years, we have been enriching our fragrant universe with new lines such as Blu Mediterraneo, Le Nobili, Barbiere and new creations intended for the home – a collection of leather travel accessories and perfumed candles of unrivalled quality – the expression of the most refined Italian art of living.
And the unique Italian style of Acqua di Parma can be found in the world’s most exclusive hotels, thanks to our beloved Hotel line. Today, Acqua di Parma lovers can find our boutiques – our House of Light, House of Life, as we like to call them – in Europe (Milan, Rome, Paris), US (Miami), Middle East (Dubai) and China (Shanghai, Nanjing Deji, Shenzen, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Guangzhou).
“Acqua di Parma is the essence of the sophisticated lightness and easy elegance Italy is known for around the world.”
MoS: Why do you think Acqua di Parma has stood as a symbol of elegance and refinement for so long?
LB: Because Acqua di Parma was not born as a brand to be “marketed”. It was created by a man, Mr. Magnani, for himself, and his inner circle of friends and family. He didn’t want to create a brand, but something personal. Acqua di Parma was never conceived as a “marketing creature”, that’s why, as the time passed, it turned into a quintessentially Italian experience for all those people looking for an authentic, transparent and genuine brand that really stands for something.
Being created as a personal scent gives the brand intimacy and truthfulness, which you hardly find these days. Just think that for the first 60 to 70 years, Acqua di Parma was never sold in fragrance stores, it was only sold through tailors who would spray Colonia on the suit as a finishing touch. Isn’t it a wonderful story that really gives depth to the product, elevating it beyond any other fragrance?
MoS: Looking forward, what are some brand goals for Acqua di Parma? And where do you think Acqua di Parma will be in the next 100 years?
LB: I’m not exaggerating when I say that my dream is for Colonia to be recognised as the best fragrance in the world. It truly is. When I started at Acqua di Parma, I felt I had a rough diamond in my hand, just ready to be brought into the light. We have always represented the most refined elements of the Italian way of life but in an understated, discreet way. We are now leading the brand to the next level and keep developing this beautiful Italian story into a global success.
I believe our secret has always been moving forward into the future while keeping our DNA intact and this is what we’ll keep doing in the next 100 years. Our most important skill and what distinguishes us is the ability to bring style – specifically Italian style – into life.