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Acqua di Parma’s 102-Year-Old Colonia Scent is Re-Imagined for Today

A conversation with the artist and Acqua di Parma’s CEO Laura Burdese on a very special edition of Colonia.
IMAGE Acqua di Parma
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A scent that has, for more than 100 years, represented what Acqua di Parma does and does so well, the responsibility of re-interpreting the design of the house’s signature scent for a limited edition collaboration fell to British artist Clym Evernden, better known as Clym, or @clymdraws on The 'Gram. 

A meeting that began in Milan and ended in tears (of joy) from the team at Acqua di Parma, the artist has taken his irreverent and elegant drawing style and turned what was once a simple fragrance bottle into something colorful, fun, and very collectable (especially if you’re into birds). 

We spoke to Clym and Acqua Di Parma CEO Laura Burdese, about how this special edition of Colonia came to be. 

Esquire: How did the project come to be? 

Laura Burdese: We’ve collaborated with artists in the past, but we wanted something new and interesting to make Colonia feel very modern. I’ve been a fan of Clym’s for a long time, so we met and we talked and it felt right. There was a chemistry! 

Clym Evernden: I couldn’t believe it. Acqua di Parma totally understood my look, and let me interpret it on paper as I saw fit. 

ESQ: Why did you choose a bird as the bottle's main design feature? 

Clym: I wanted something that embodied the feel of the scent that wasn’t human, male or female. I knew I wanted a little icon to represent those elements: the lightness, sophistication and humor of the brand, and a bird fit that. 


ESQ: How would you describe your artistic style? 

Clym: I’d like to say it’s high-end and sophisticated, but it also has a bit of wit and, I hope, charm. I felt that blended really well with Acqua di Parma and what they were looking for. 

ESQ: Why Colonia? 

Laura: It’s been with us for 100 years and it is our hero product. Everything we do starts with Colonia and expands from there. It’s the symbol of us. If we want to change the way people see the brand, we have to start here. The formula hasn't changed for 100 years! 

ESQ: How is the design taken from the page to the bottle while maintaining Clym's style? 

Laura: it’s very complicated. We spent a lot of time talking about ovens and how to set it. The drawings were the easy part! Even on the boxes it was very hard. We have, as you know, special yellow boxes that are hand-made, so we had to make sure everything was perfect. 

ESQ: And it’s limited edition? 

Laura: Yes, there isn’t a set number because we had such a high demand, but it’s going to be limited edition for Christmas. 

ESQ: How does Parma the city influence the scents? 

Laura: Parma is a very beautiful place that combines architecture and culture with lovely natural surroundings. The yellow of the packaging represents the color of the walls of the houses. It’s a noble city, but in an easy, understated way. We hope people see our brand in a similar fashion. 

ESQ: It must feel a bit odd (in a good way), this idea that started with a conversation and now it’s on a bottle

Clym: It was an amazing meeting. The Four Seasons in Milan, us around a table and the ideas were flowing. As I was showing everyone my sketches and ideas, Paola Paganini (Acqua Di Parma’s long-standing creative director) burst into tears. I thought. ‘Oh god! There are tears? What have I done?’ It turns out she’s very passionate, and she just really liked my ideas. 

acquadiparma.com

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Finlay Renwick
Finlay Renwick is the Digital Editorial Assistant at Esquire.co.uk
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