The CEO Of Acqua Di Parma Discusses Heritage, Innovation And Craftsmanship

Lindsay Judge   |   08-07-2024

Giulio Bergamaschi took the helm of Italian fragrance Maison Acqua di Parma in 2023, bringing with him 20 years of experience in the luxury beauty industry.

Bergamaschi is tasked with further elevating the company’s position as a global leader in the beauty industry, as well as continuing the brand’s promotion of Italian lifestyle and craftsmanship. With a history dating back to 1916 Acqua di Parma was founded in the northern Italian city of Parma by the Italian Baron, Carlo Magnani. The story began with one fragrance – Colonia – which was deemed the first Italian Eau de Cologne. Colonia was created using natural ingredients with vibrant, citrusy scents, something that remains a signature of the brand today. 

This summer, Acqua di Parma reveals its latest additions with two new Blu Mediterraneo fragrances and a new Acqua di Parma summer lifestyle collection that features fragrances, candles, diffusers, and resort accessories. Here, we find out more about the latest launches as well as the future direction of the brand. 

Congratulations on the role – tell us about your vision and direction for the brand. 

I would like to celebrate Italian sophistication through timeless craftsmanship and appreciation of life’s subtleties. We transform products into artisanal objects, embracing small-scale creation and creative experimentation. Our vision comes alive through distinctive fragrances, exquisite design, masterful craftsmanship, and a refined brand image. We’re reducing distribution to focus on quality and creativity, connecting with those who value cultural significance in everyday objects. We seek kindred spirits who find joy in elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary, embodying the essence of Italian vibrancy and sophistication.

You are taking the helm of a brand with a rich history and heritage – how do you plan to ensure that shines through?

We give life to what is called “artigianato artistico”, the Italian concept of artistic craftsmanship where masterful hands give life to exquisite creativity. What I am trying to do with Acqua di Parma is to build a brand that looks different but is coherent with itself, which is about ‘perpetuating’ and ‘experimenting’. We need to perpetuate what we have always been, but we need to keep experimenting with the brand: being different from others but true to ourselves. There is a trap of chasing after trends that I do not want us to fall into.

What’s in the pipeline for the brand this year?

New exceptional fragrances and a series of poly-sensorial objects. 

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role? 

We observe an increasing demand for luxury products and an evolving client profile. Clients are increasingly discerning, valuing authenticity, exceptional quality, and creativity. I believe Acqua di Parma has a competitive advantage, as it embodies all these qualities and has nurtured them for over a century. The challenge that I have, and I undertake with passion, is to keep the creative tension that generates the sparkle alive. Perfumery is not chemistry; it is alchemy. We strive to convey the exceptional craftsmanship and quality inherent in our products, while continuously developing new, innovative offerings that reflect our creative spirit and meet the evolving needs of our discerning clientele. There is no recipe to success, but a continuous creative process that lies on a well-established know-how.

Can you tell us about the brand in the Middle East and the plans for the region?

We have an increasing number of Middle Eastern clients coming to our international boutiques. They are known for their discerning taste, appreciation of quality fragrances, and love for travel. They often discover our brand during their global journeys. We are keen to serve them in their home country and offer them a poly-sensorial immersion into the sophisticated Italian art of living, through a century-long legacy of niche fragrances and artful craftsmanship. We have two boutiques in Dubai, one in Qatar, and we are about to open one in Riyadh, where our clients can access our full assortment of exclusive fragrances and masterpieces, as well as a selection of previews.

We are coming into summer, and ADP is a brand synonymous with summer scents. What’s coming up this summer?

We are launching a new fragrance, Mandarino di Sicilia, for which we selected a unique variety of mandarin called ‘Tardivo di Ciaculli’ which is rich in essential oils. Its name means ‘late,’ reflecting its extended ripening period, however, we harvest it earlier, when it is still green, to capture an exceptional, crisp vibrancy. Mandarino di Sicilia is also available in a Millesimato version, a limited-edition of 2022 hand-numbered pieces, celebrating the early harvest in October 2022 and the fruit of a notably sunny and dry summer, producing a vibrant, multifaceted, and sophisticated essence. It exemplifies what makes Made in Italy so special: a unique blend of terroir, craftsmanship, and art.

You have vast experience of the luxury industry – what do you think is the secret to remaining a successful brand today?

A unique and authentic positioning. Acqua di Parma is a gem in this regard. In 1916, Baron Carlo Magnani, lover and protector of art, created the Colonia – Acqua di Parma; a bright, clean, and vibrant signature. Distributed through respected tailors, which symbolised refined craftsmanship and elegance, Acqua di Parma became the invisible final touch of a sophisticated silhouette. Today, Acqua di Parma epitomises Italian sophistication and celebrates a century-long legacy, intertwining traditional craftsmanship with modern artistry.

How would you define luxury? 

Luxury is about the things you can’t buy: time and culture. This is what we inject into all Acqua di Parma creations.

Craftsmanship takes time. Design takes culture. We recently launched ‘Chapeau!’, a candle representing an ingenious take on the Maison’s collection of poly-sensorial design objects. It was initially launched in Milan, Rome, and London, where it quickly sold out. We are currently awaiting new stock to supply our boutiques. The availability of this product is limited due to the genuine craftsmanship involved. We respect the capacity of our craftsmen and will deliver additional quantities as soon as they are crafted.

We are seeing a lot of brands creating localised products and experiences for their customers – is this something you want to explore further?

Yes absolutely. We leverage our century-old know-how to best serve our clients, meeting their preferences with tailor-made creations. It is part of our continuous effort to surprise and delight them with excellent service.

The brand has always remained very loyal to your values and heritage – how do you balance this with moving forward to please today’s customers? 

Heritage grants solid foundations. Innovation is an everyday journey. We observe our clients, we listen to them, and we have a healthy obsession with how to serve them best. We partner with top designers and extraordinary craftsmen, and we give life to “artigianato artistico”. 

How do you feel about endorsements and partnerships as a company?

Acqua di Parma creations are all made in Italy by the masterful hands of our craftsmen and are designed by extraordinary creative talents from all over the world who understand the value of Italian sophistication.

We partner with extraordinary craftsmen in Italy, and with extraordinary designers from all over the world. Partnership works best when you bring together different talents who share a common vision.

‘Chapeau!’ represents an ingenious take on the Maison’s collection of poly-sensorial objects and was designed by Dorothee Meilichzon, an awarded French designer.

What message would you send to our readers?

I invite them to come visit our universe in our boutiques and our summer Boutique in Saint Tropez. We are keen to delight them with a century-long legacy of niche fragrances, masterful craftsmanship and Italian sophistication.