As the latest collection of Chopard fragrances launches, CEO Patrizio Stella talks to A&E about the history of crucial ingredients, creating a sustainable beauty industry and the excitement of discovering a new scent.
Three years ago, when Patrizio Stella took on his role as CEO of Chopard Fragrances, he was granted the mission to help accelerate the Swiss perfume house’s international growth.
And as the latest launch under his wing – the new Garden of Kings scent – uses Indian Oud Oil as its key ingredient, it symbolises how Stella is reaching far and wide not only with the audience of his perfumes but with the making of them, too.
As well as creating more global scents, he’s been hard at work ensuring ethical and positive impacts are tied into his work within the beauty industry, too
Speaking to A&E, Patrizio Stella talks us through the latest perfume from Chopard, the joys of discovering a new scent and his motto in life.
Tell us about the new Haute Parfumerie Collection, Gardens of the Kings?
Gardens of the Kings is the story of a true journey all over the world. In fact, I like to say that each of the Gardens collections is an olfactory adventure born from rare essences, natural ingredients of the highest quality coming from responsible and ethical sources. Gardens of the Kings inspiration have been driven by Chopard philosophy and crafted by outstanding local producers and artisans with whom we work hand in hand.
A human adventure above all guided by passion, respect and know-how. Gardens of the Kings’ four perfumes – Agar Royal, Aigle Impérial, Nuit des Rois and Or de Calambac – pay tribute to the most precious, noble and mythical natural ingredient in perfumery: oud. More precious than gold, Oud Assafi is ethically and sustainably sourced from the sacred lands of Sylhet – the cradle of Indian oud (Al-Hindi) since time immemorial.
Pure Indian Oud Oil is a key element of the fragrance – what makes this extract so special?
Oud is known in perfumery as the “king of woods” and also the “wood of kings”. In fact, oud has left its mark on all the most emblematic civilizations throughout history. It was born in India, it travelled the Silk Road from China to Japan, then to the Arabian Peninsula and the borders of Byzantium. But even more, Oud Assafi, masterpiece ingredient of our collection, is one of the earth’s most precious and expensive oils, produced in very small quantities each year.
An olfactory wonder, with a unique complexity: a perfect balance between smoky, woody and leathery notes, with accents of tobacco, vanilla and honey. Originating in the Sylhet region in Bangladesh, oud was born 3,500 years ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the waters of India feed a luxuriant natural realm of tropical forests, rice paddies and green tea plantations.
In this very region, oud also represents an inheritance and tradition that, for more than four centuries, has stirred the hearts and hands of family producer Jalali Agarwood, an icon of excellence in the Naturals Together program of Swiss fragrance house Firmenich, precious partner of Chopard in its Journey to Sustainable Luxury Perfumery.
Today, the seventh generation of Jalali Agarwood is the guardian angel of a secular know-how, devoted to responsible arboriculture. Extracting and distilling Oud Assafi oil of the highest possible level of quality, requires great mastery and patience. It takes at least 40 to 50 years for the resin to ripen to perfection.
With such a heritage, quality and deep storytelling, Alberto Morillas, the Master perfumer who created the collection and Chopard decided that this was a true and meaningful story to tell to all our customers.
Explain more about the journey to discover the extracts for the new scent?
In creating Gardens of the Kings, the key people of Chopard Parfums team embarked on a real journey to the Sylhet lands of Bangladesh to visit Jalali Agarwood’s family plantations, where nature quietly perfects the miracle of oud, to witness first-hand their responsible arboriculture and their unique tradition of distillation, encounter the oud master and the masters to be, and meet the large-hearted multi-ethnic communities of oud. A journey that forever changed our way of looking at oud, leading to a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Jalali family philosophy, their profound commitment to nature and human beings, and their immense respect for this sacred treasure of their soil.
More widely, what makes a Chopard fragrance unique or signature?
It is extraordinarily motivating and fulfilling to be able to work with the most precious natural ingredients, with freedom of creative expression and sharing a true love for quality and beauty.
Chopard Parfums is unique for our constant research and the use of the most pristine natural ingredients directly sourced from Firmenich Naturals Together program. This coupled with the collaborations with some of the greatest master perfumers of our times. They feel proud to create for Chopard Parfums unique fragrances, where the olfactory journey is unexpected, elegant and precious at the same time. Added to this, there is that strong ethical sense that accompanies every single action: from the creation of fragrances to the fairness of the production process, up to their launch.
But above all, we truly believe in that Luxury Naturals Perfumery, which is our trademark. That blend of the glamorous DNA of Chopard together with the continuous goal for sustainable supply processes which are at the base of the outstanding quality of our juices. In a sentence, I love when customers tell us after smelling our fragrances: “We feel these juices are different! We feel all of a sudden surrounded by a gorgeous, super green and breathtaking forest”.
What excites you the most about discovering a new scent?
It’s a great feeling. To me, searching and discovering a new scent, developing a new perfume is like shooting a new movie for a director or playing a Champions League match for a player, I guess. It’s like meeting a new friend, speaking with him for a long time, hearing about his or her past, sharing his or her sense of life and projecting the future together. And the world of beauty means a lot of these things to me.
A world full of adventures, surrounded by many interesting people (not all of them, but a lot…) that make your professional and personal life rich indeed.
And how is Chopard playing a part when it comes to a more sustainable beauty and fashion industry?
Chopard Parfums fragrances represent a new vision within the parfumerie. They are created for “glamorous green” lovers. Everything started with Chopard’s ambitious and visionary project of “a journey towards sustainable luxury” born in 2013 but that already belonged to a vision started many years before.
The values that lie at the heart of Chopard as a Maison de Parfums totally echo the principles that have been inspiring, and still do, its high jewellery and expert watchmaking. Chopard creations are first and foremost stories of skilled hands and craftsmanship, of exceptional raw materials, of savoir-faire, of passion and creativity, of love and true respect for nature.
This alliance of ethics and aesthetics is the most precious heritage that makes them so exceptional and unique. Likewise, as a true Maison de Parfums, Chopard places natural, positive and ethical luxury perfume making at the heart of its inspiration, putting the greatest value into its fragrances and pursuing a Luxury Naturals Perfumery, with a “do good, feel good” mind-set.
What first enticed you to the world of beauty and fragrance?
As most of the things in life, it all started with some friends telling me “hey, why don’t you join us in this project? We believe it’s really fun”. And in the beauty world, you can really build all the stories that you love to. Then, you realise that with the fragrances you can touch people much deeper than with many more expensive objects because scents speak to people’s hearts more than to their minds. And after you had the chance of meeting so many genuine and passionate individuals that love fragrances because fragrances tell a lot about them, it’s over: you’ll never leave that world for the rest of your life.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
Professionally, it may sound strange, but its’ been when I realised what all of us have been experiencing at a certain point during our professional lives. If you want to make a rapid and growing career, you may need not to open yourself completely, always think twice before saying your thoughts, looking at your bosses’ answers before clearly stating your point of view.
I decided that this was not healthy for me, that it might have helped my career but not my self-esteem. Therefore, now I am what I am, I believe in values that I try to always respect for first and I try to surround myself with colleagues and friends that share my philosophy too. People around me, they know they’ll be respected for what they are, no matter how ‘crazy’ or different. It’s about what they will, and that works. Maybe I’ll never reach any more ‘certain’ positions, but I’ll certainly follow my dreams and “reach my stars”.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Professionally, one of my old bosses, not one of the most beloved, told me once: “Patrizio, here everybody is good in making strategies, but very few are able to translate it into successful actions”. Well, I always tried to keep that lesson with me at work as in my daily life.
I love people who have good ideas, but the most treasured ones, the irreplaceable ones are those who can turn those ideas into concrete actions, making things really happen. And that’s one of the meters I use for judging myself at the end of the day.
What do you still want to achieve going forward?
I set a new goal every morning. Visiting all the countries I could not see so far, playing tennis in a proper manner and learning how to better drive on the sea, developing a team and an organisation that will strive for reaching its targets only “with style,” being always connected with my kids’ tastes and being curious to understand why they love what they love, making of Chopard Parfums a true worldwide success, but most of all being always satisfied with myself.
Do you have a motto in life?
This is easy. An old American song title and the historical motto of my organisations. Blind faith in the future: “The best has yet to come”.
See more from Chopard Parfums at chopard.com.