Celebrating a centenary means speaking to history with a story of one’s own.The story of ACQUA DI PARMA is Parma. The Colonia of Acqua di Parma was born as an expression of style, refined and discreet elegance, the passion for culture of an aristocrat in Parma, who found no scent in the world that he felt as his. For this reason, Colonia is more than just a perfume: it’s a lifestyle. Just as Parma is much more than a place: it’s a way of being.
And so, what is Parma?
It’s the ability to create beauty, taste and culture with intelligence and in the elegant way that only the ancient tradition of modes and culture can do. Parma is the synthesis of the values that make Italy and Italian style admired around the world and the extraordinary skills of the hands, the creativity, the talent of Italian artisans for which the world envies us. Parma is the Italy of which we are proud, the Italy that teaches the world elegance, culture, style. Acqua di Parma has brought all this to the world and won it over.
And so it is Parma that we choose to celebrate. But how?
I thought long and hard about this. Parma is such an extraordinary place that it requires an extraordinary point of view. Something never done before: this is what Parma deserves.Walking through the elegant streets, falling in love with the frescoes in the magnificent churches, the discrete palaces painted a yellow that in the color palette of the world bears the name “Parma,” breathing the flowery air arising from the smiling countryside surrounding the sumptuous glory of the city, I began to understand. Parma is not a city.
It is a place of the soul. It is the elegance of a unique style and culture.
Great, powerful Italian culture permeates every brick, every stone, every prospect of Parma. Parma has known how to live in its time while simultaneously projecting itself into the future. Parma had the most sophisticated court in Italy, and also the smallest. Parma shines in the paintings of Correggio, Parmigianino, in the fabric of its façades, in the enchantment of its statues that dance in the sky, rising from its roofs the color of roses, on ledges, balustrades and terraces. But it has also succeeded in creating the revolutionary marvel of modern technology, VisLab’s selfdriving car, which SiliconValley itself bows down to. Parma is the pulpit of great music, the triumph of Verdi, the splendor of a theater whose grace and elegance eclipses of the world’s most famous opera houses. But it is also a stage for works of contemporary architecture that have proved seminal: the single span bridge, the Teatro Due, the headquarters of the EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority. Parma flourishes with monumental churches, from the early Middle Ages to the romantic masterpieces of 19th century decoration.Yet it has succeeded in transforming one of them, beautiful as it is, into a Sound Engineering Laboratory unmatched in the world. Parma gave its name to an artist in the pantheon of the greatest, Parmigianino, but it has asked a contemporary artist like Claudio Parmiggiani to reveal its mysteries by commissioning installations that have shaped the history of art in the third millennium.
Parma can create the future by pride in its past.And it can do so with the same unique and unrepeatable hallmark of style: elegance.
Hence, in order to celebrate Parma, it took two special talents.Two names that create elegance and culture, of people who themselves embody elegance and culture. In an interplay of mirrors that multiplies and reflects the charm of this city which brings to the world the message of our Italy, creator of beauty and culture. I chose without hesitation. Giovanni Gastel has for many years been the magnificent creator of the image of Acqua di Parma. He has brought the hallmark of his elegance and culture into our communication, perfectly embodying in himself the core values of our brand.We asked Giovanni Gastel, an artist even before he is a photographer, a celebrated master of the gaze, to show us what Parma looks like. A fascinating line between Past and Future. A history that is linked together and rediscovers lineaments and architectural elements through the centuries with the force of his inspiration.We could have asked Antonella Boralevi, an authoritative and passionate writer, to write our history. Many brands have done so: they have published a book that told the story of the creation and development of the brand.
But we wanted something different. Something that had never been done before.
So, we asked Antonella not for a story but an emotion.We have commissioned a novel.A similar operation to that with which the great patrons of the history of Parma, kings, abbots, princes, monks and the Grand Duchess Marie Louise gave the city, Italy, the world, the splendor of this extraordinary and still secret city.
The photographs by Giovanni Gastel and the novel by Antonella Boralevi are a single volume and a uniquely special exhibition. They have a single title: Essere Parma (Being Parma). What Giovanni and Antonella have succeeded in achieving is a miracle of inspiration and the genius loci. It is proof of a complete harmony between two artistic voices that, each with a special talent, have come together and created beauty. In reading the fascinating pages of Antonella’s novel, the reader experiences on his skin and in his heart the emotions that the extraordinary, powerful photographs by Giovanni bring to our eyes. It is both a twofold and a single journey, guided by the hands of two artists who, from different but complementary standpoints, have recreated for us the wonderful experience of elegance and culture embodied in Parma.
It is, therefore, with joy and pride that I commend to you, readers and visitors, this volume and this exhibition. Because what Parma embodies, ACQUA DI PARMA enables all to experience, if they choose the style of the great Italian culture and elegance that have conquered the world.