While most know Ermenegildo Zegna as an international luxury label, the brand can trace its roots back to 1911, when Ermenegildo himself, the son of a watchmaker, started weaving wool from four looms in the Alpine foothills near Biella, Italy. His vision was to source the best quality natural fibers directly from their country of origin, creating some of the most beautiful and luxurious fabrics, and laying the foundations for a vertically integrated company and one of Italy's most renown family businesses. This focus on quality raw ingredients and craftsmanship remain at the heart of Zegna's focus today. They still control the entire process from sheep to suit. And the same goes for their popular line of fragrances.
Last year, Zegna launched the Essenze Collection, a group of five signature scents, each highlighting one ingredient with its own unique provenance, from Sicilian mandarin and Javanese patchouli to Indonesian oud. Developed to highlight the artisanship of quality fragrances, each scent shares a common thread—Italian bergamot from Zegna's own crop in Calabria. This spring, they've added a sixth scent: Haitian Vetiver. We spoke with Trudi Loren, the Senior Vice President, Corporate Fragrance Development for The Estée Lauder Companies, about the development of the latest Essenze Collection blend.
Some of the natural essences used to make up the fragrance, which develop over time as the scent dries down and reacts with your skin.
"Both have nuances of top note brightness, a touch of green and a hint of pepper, which make them perfect companions."
"They both come from 'root' plants, which work in harmony to highlight the brightness of other ingredients."
There were five colognes in the original line-up, what was the impetus to launch a new one?
In the original collection there are two citrus, one floral, one wood and one oriental scent. It made sense to introduce another refined woody fragrance that would appeal to the Zegna consumer around the world.
How long does it take to create a fragrance like this,
from start to finish?
It takes about one year to create the fragrance from the identification of the superior ingredient to the construction of the composition.
Can you tell us about the raw material, the vetiver used for this particular scent?
Vetiver is a tropical fragrant grass; grown in the area of Les Cayes in south west Haiti. It is the roots which are harvested and distilled over 30 hours to extract the rich oil. Ermenegildo Zegna has acquired a specific crop from the town of Debouchette to be utilized in the fragrance Haitian Vetiver.
And you've actually been to Haiti and seen the crop?
I was just recently in Haiti to see the harvesting and extraction of the vetiver. It was a tremendous experience to see the quantities of roots amassed and then to learn about the extraction process and why it takes so long to produce the best quality of oil. I also had the good fortune to meet with the people in the fields and factory who are intrinsic to the process. One of the highlights was seeing the school which has been built by the fragrance house of Firmenich, who supplies the scent, through their program of sustainable vetiver.
Vetiver is a classic scent. Why do you think it's endured so long?
Vetiver has always been in style in perfumery as we've seen with many classic fragrances such as Vetiver de Guerlain and Vetiver de Carven from the 1950's. While it played more of a supportive role, now it is coming to center stage as the lead role in fragrances. I believe this is in part due to the excellent quality of the raw material and, of course, due to the style of the times which is favoring refined woody notes in perfumery.