1916-2016. Acqua di Parma is a hundred years old. A century of history which, now more than ever, has seen the brand become a world ambassador for Made in Italy thanks to the enduring values which are part of its origins and its DNA.
A hundred years of savoir-faire and understanding of quality of the highest level. A hundred years of strictly Italian craftsmanship during which Acqua di Parma has always employed the most careful manual production techniques. Every one of its products is crafted in individually selected Italian workshops where the secrets of the trade are passed down through the generations. Every single item is created with patience, time and dedication according to the spirit of the oldest master craftsmanship, using only the most valuable materials. Rare essential oils, the purest waxes, woods and precious metals, beautifully tactile and visually appealing leather, quality fabrics. The greatest care is taken in the smallest details and finishing touches, starting with the craftsmen creating the most refined fragrances to those who mould precious perfumed candles and leather accessories, from those who make elegant accessories intended for the shaving ritual to the artisans who prepare the boxes by hand and attach every label by hand.
It is by following these traditions that, for a hundred years, the brand has been able to bring out ever new classics. Timeless creations which convey an innate elegance and a unique exclusivity. The purity of the design, the care taken in every detail, the most exquisite taste and perfection, a modern and evolved conception of luxury which has no need for ostentation but which is recognisable by its eternally understated refinement.
For one hundred years Acqua di Parma, as well as craftsmanship, has supported the priceless heritage of Italian art and culture in the role of patron. An intense activity which ranges from prestigious publications, sponsorship of famous Italian artists and partnerships with important cultural institutions, to actually putting on art exhibitions. A commitment motivated by its link with this heritage in which the brand immerses its roots and from which it has absorbed its own values.
Even in its very name, Acqua di Parma demonstrates the close bond it enjoys with the city in which it originated. Parma, capital of theatre and music, figurative arts and architecture. The city of Giuseppe Verdi and Arturo Toscanini, and celebrated by Stendhal. It is from here that our passion for Italian art and culture is born. And it is to honour this sense of belonging that Acqua di Parma is celebrating its Centenary with an abundant programme of initiatives aimed at promoting the expression of Parma’s art and culture. A series of events which confirm the brand’s patronage and further reinforce its links with the city in which it originated.
The Centenary is a unique opportunity to give the city new international exposure, promoting its vast array of architectural attractions, art works, theatres and music venues.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Baron Carlo Magnani, the educated, refined heir to one of Parma’s oldest families, lived in Parma. His grandfather, Girolamo Magnani, was a “painter, director and set designer” in the mid-nineteenth century at the Teatro Regio – the royal theatre – and his set designs were Giuseppe Verdi’s favourites. The elegance of his mannerisms and habits, his sensitivity to art and culture, that all-Italian savoir-vivre of the true gentleman, were for Carlo Magnani a heritage that was innate in him. But the fragrance in which he could be fully recognised did not exist. Therefore, driven by the desire to be able to rediscover his world in a fragrance, he commissioned a skilful master perfumer to create it, and it was from his exact instructions that, in 1916, a hundred years ago, an exceptionally fresh and modern fragrance was born. Colonia Acqua di Parma, the first truly Italian cologne.
From then on, the brand itself, synonymous with excellence in craftsmanship and with an awareness of elegance and beauty, became part of the heritage and history of the city, with a deep affinity which grew and strengthened over time. Straight away, the brand’s image found its conventions in the place where it originated. The unmistakeable Parma yellow which has characterised the aristocratic houses of the city since the baroque era and represents its symbolic shade became Acqua di Parma’s iconic colour.
The royal shield became part of the logo and recalls the coat of arms of the Dukes of Parma at the time of Marie Louise, the enlightened sovereign who, more than any other, brought splendour to the city by cultivating its arts and culture. It was she who opened the Teatro Regio, established the Conservatory and restored the University.
With its fresh and elegant blend, which has remained unchanged in a century, Colonia established itself in the 30’s as the “fragrance” of the era, gaining international success in the 50’s. Hollywood actors, invited to Italy by the great masters of Italian cinema, discovered it in historic bespoke tailors’ shops where a puff of the fragrance would be squirted by the tailor before handing over a made-to-measure suit. A tradition which has linked Colonia from its inception to the word of male bespoke tailoring and makes it a sought-after accessory. Its art deco bottle, with its unmistakeable black cap in bakelite, is now iconic.
Drawing inspiration from Colonia, Acqua di Parma creates a whole world of style. In the 90’s three renowned Italian businessmen, loyal admirers of the fragrance, sensed the brand’s potential, giving life to new creations. In 2001 the brand was acquired by the LVMH group and increased its success at international level. Acqua di Parma expresses the true Italian lifestyle, developing an increasingly extensive range of product ranges in a variety of sectors, from fragrances for men and for women to travel and business accessories, Home Fragrance and the Home Collection.
Every new item continues to be an expression of the all-Italian elegance of its origins and the most Made in Italy craftsmanship. Throughout this first century of history and tradition, Acqua di Parma has continued to move forward intelligently into the contemporary world, keeping intact its link with its roots and its DNA. It is the milestone of the first hundred years of this genuine Italian art of living that the brand is proudly celebrating today. A way of life which, as much nowadays as in the past, has fascinated and engaged a following from all over the world: well-informed and civilised men and women who have held the same shared values for a hundred years.