When the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova said, “Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life,” she must have been referring to Florence. The Tuscan capital is a city like no other in the vast, boot-shaped country of Italy. There are pieces of well-preserved history on every street corner, the Arno river glitters incandescently under the bright sun, and the idea of getting lost in its narrow streets—while usually abhorrent—doesn’t seem so bad, especially while involved in the launch of a new Gucci fragrance. The choice to create an immersive experience in Florence was a no-brainer for the Italian fashion house, which has a rich history with the cradle of the Renaissance as both the birthplace of its founder, Guccio Gucci and the hatchery for the brand’s early days. The revamped version of the incredible Gucci Garden is the first stop on our whirlwind tour.
On the outside, it looks like any old Florentine building, but within awaits a technicolor vision of Gucci’s past, present, and future with exhibitions overseen by scholar, critic, and fashion curator Maria Luisa Frisa and a boutique–gift shop hybrid, all conceptualized by Alessandro Michele. Feeling famished after taking in so much fashion and art, the nearby Gucci Osteria was next, where a feast prepared by three-star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura awaited us before a magical night at the opera for a performance of Opera Barroca’s Dafne at the legendary Boboli Gardens.
Bright and early the next morning came the formal launch of Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori and a chance to chat with master perfumer Alberto Morillas, who is responsible for many of the fashion industry’s most iconic and successful fragrances. Throughout our conversation, he maintains that the end result is the product of a collaboration between himself and Michele, a party of two. I ask what he thinks bonds them, to which he responds: “The passion for perfume because he loves perfume. We are very connected.” The name of the fragrance translates literally to nectar of the flowers, which according to Morillas, is part of the chemical makeup of the scent—namely, osmanthus, tuberose, ginger, and Bulgarian rose. He maintains, however, that the notes of wood are most important. As the talk comes to an end, I ask Morillas how he would describe the fragrance. He pauses, then smiles: “It’s a dream, like a waking dream,” he states. “Creating a perfume is like…interpreting a dream.”