We chat with Acqua di Parma president Laura Burdese to see why the UAE goes crazy for its collection of Italian fragrances and leather accessories.

Rob Chilton
Why do you think the UAE customer likes Acqua di Parma?

LB: The product is key, but I think they like the sophisticated Italian lifestyle that we represent.

Why do men admire Italian style so much?

LB: Men tell me that Italian style is natural. Italian guys are at ease with their elegance, which I think men around the world love.

What’s the behind the yellow packaging?

LB: It’s a very typical and noble colour of Italy that you’ll find on palazzi, especially in Parma. The man who created the first Acqua di Parma fragrance (Colonia in 1916) was Carlo Magnani and he wanted the fragrance to be surrounded by the yellow colour of his house.

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How did Magnani come to make Colonia?

LB: He spent a lot of time in London. During the long, cold winters he longed for the Italian sun. He created a personal fragrance for himself, Colonia. People liked it, so he distributed it through tailors who would put it on the suits before giving them to the gentlemen.

Is it helpful to know the history of the brand?

LB: It’s so important. We really want to preserve the authenticity, heritage and legacy of Acqua di Parma. A little like Coca-Cola, the recipe for Colonia has not changed in 100 years.

Do you think the bottle design will change?

LB: No, I don’t think the shape will ever change, it’s iconic and almost a beautiful artwork. The bottles are timeless, understated, minimal and classic.


Amid the fragrance displays in The Dubai Mall’s new Perfumery & Co department is an enclave of old-fashioned masculinity. Acqua di Parma has set up a secret barber shop with a beautiful Gioia chair offering haircuts, face scrubs and beard grooming. But where The Barbiere Service really nails it is the shaving menu. Choose from an Express Shave a Prestige Shave or the traditional Italian shave, all done with brushes, hot towels and finished – naturally – with Acqua di Parma balms and cologne.

How should a man choose a fragrance?

LB: He should go with his instinct. Fragrances are about emotion, they’re a part of your personality, an accessory, and they are the way you want others to perceive you.

Are men becoming more knowledgeable about fragrance?

LB: I notice that more and more men are interested in how fragrances are made, the ingredients, the notes – they ask far more questions than women. They go deeper into the details.