In September, Yerevan smelled and blossomed with the new scent of the Salvatore Ferragamo Parfums.The CEO of the company himself, Mr. Luciano Bertinelli, arrived in Armenia to present the Signorina Ribelle fragrance to the Armenian esthetes by the initiative of Burmunk Perfumery Chain. Regional Post had an exceptional opportunity to meet and ask him several questions.

Interview : Arshak Tovmasyan



Mr. Bertinelli, what is the purpose of your visit to Armenia?

I’m here to introduce our Signorina Ribelle perfume to Armenia and to the world. This is also my first time here and I am full of interest to understand this place, people, and culture.


Did you manage to travel around the country?

I’ve visited the Ararat Brandy Factory, then we went to the Geghard Monastery and Garni Temple. I was impressed by the landscape. I even stopped the car to take some photos. It’s totally different from Europe. I found something alike in Jordan, but this is something unique which makes others invest more in your country.


Salvatore Ferragamo is an old classical brand with 91 years of history, but Ferragamo Perfume is relatively young, 15-20 years. What was the main driving force for entering the perfume industry?

It’s an interesting question as it was very challenging when the family made the decision. At first, I entered the fragrance business many years ago, working with Bulgari in Switzerland. At that time it was an agreement between Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari. The latter produced and sold fragrance from Salvatore Ferragamo. After one year, the families started discussions and decided to separate, and the Ferragamo family chose to have a separate division dedicated to fragrance only. Then we started this adventure from scratch, and up to this day, every day is a challenge for us because compared to the industry giants, we are a small company. But so far, we’re recognized as a player in the world.

I really liked the scent and the design of the bottles of your fragrance, especially of the Uomo Salvatore Ferragamo. In the Signorina line, I felt like you used the traditional Salvatore Ferragamo elements from your clothes and shoe collections.

You are right, for Uomo Salvatore Ferragamo, for example, we used one of our old logos which was around in the early 1920s. In this industry, not only the fragrance and the bottle are important, but the feeling of having something special in your hand. Basically, we always pay attention to two things: the bottle design and the quality of the fragrance inside. We cannot compete with the industry giants in terms of communication, we cannot invest a lot of money in it, but we can compete with them in terms of quality. So, we put money in raw material, in design, and we really hope that the client can understand it.

Talking about Signorina, which is our pillar, we started from a simple idea of the Vara bow, which is an iconic element in Salvatore Ferragamo, and we tried to transform this simple concept with the bottle. We always try to produce something with the DNA of the company. In 2020, we will launch a totally new men’s line new line, again with an element that is iconic to us. We always try to keep alive our story through the fragrance.


I’ve read that all the materials used are produced in Italy, is it so?

Yes, and I’m very proud of it. When we say that we’re made in Italy, we’re really made in Italy. This is the reality: the glass is produced in Italy, the grosgrain is made in Italy, and even the box is made in Italy. Except for some components in the fragrance, which are impossible to find in Italy, every single step in production is made in Italy. This means that we have serious control over everything, and we have specialists for that purpose. I think it makes a difference, and it’s quite costly.


In the current world of luxury brands, there are more and more brands that turn into public companies, and Salvatore Ferragamo remains family-owned. Do you think it’s a competitive advantage?

In fact, we’re the right mix. I worked with Bulgari as well, which was a family, then it turned into a public company. When I started working with Ferragamo, it was 100 percent in the hands of the family. Now, we’re partially public, but still, the majority is family owned, and it’s the right balance between the management and the family. Being a public company means we have to pay attention to the numbers and provide reports to the investors, which is a stress, but from the other side, the family tries to keep the balance. What is the difference between the family and us? We see the quarter, we see the six months ahead, we see the next 20 years, and it’s fundamental as it gives us a passion for continuing.


You mentioned 90 countries. Why is it important for Salvatore Ferragamo to work with small countries, such as Armenia and Georgia, when you would have more sales in a tiny Chinese city, equaling these two countries put together?

First of all, we need to respect all countries because there’s not only China or the USA or Russia. Recently, we’ve been to Georgia and Lebanon. I like to say that we just put a flag. We leave one drop and, step by step, we wait for a tree to grow. Of course, Armenia is a small country, but there are a lot of small countries.

I would like to talk about the connection between Ferragamo and the city of Florence. The company has always supported the town helping to save historic buildings, etc. Why is this connection so important?

The Ferragamo family and Salvatore Ferragamo himself originated from the small city called Bonito, in the southern part of Italy. He was a poor shoemaker who immigrated to Los Angeles and started the adventure there. Then he moved to Florence because there he found a possibility to produce high-quality shoes. Currently, the whole family is there, and there’s a strong link between the family and the city, and they are actively investing in it. Recently, we’ve restored a famous fountain there. Even if we’re international, the headquarters, the mentality, the heart is in Florence.


What are the global challenges for the Ferragamo Parfums today?

Today, the biggest challenge for us is to continue to grow, honoring the style, quality, and our manner of production. There’s a battle of cost among all brands, also having in mind China which is a whole different story, but in the end, we still have to compete with them in terms of cost as well.


In the past years, to buy a fragrance, the person would smell the scent, try this and that and only then purchase the product. But today, with the emergence of online shopping, don’t you think that people may lose this experience of sampling, trying the smells?

A loss or an opportunity, call it whatever you want, should be the second bottle, the first one should be smelled to be purchased because one must be crazy to buy a fragrance without trying. You try, you buy it, and you want to have it for the second time. For sure you can do it via online shops. This is what happens in China, they no longer purchase from actual shops.


What novelties can we expect?

One novelty is Signorina Ribelle, and this is why we’re in Armenia. We started the Signorina line in 2012, and won our in-house Oscar because people immediately recognized that it’s Ferragamo, they started pronouncing the word Signorina, which is not very easy, especially for the Chinese and Asian people in general. Also, since we have 3-4 different fragrances in the Signorina line, the customers choose the bottle Signorina, but a different scent in accordance with their taste. We always try to keep alive the assortment. In February 2020, we’re going to launch an important new men’s line, but I cannot tell you more.

After graduation, you worked in the luxury industry your entire life. Was it something you always wanted to do, or did it happen accidentally?

I have to admit that I’m fortunate, because to work in a luxury business is one of the best things. You meet good people, fantastic locations, quality products, you enhance your taste. I started working in Bulgari after I saw an article in the newspaper; they were looking for some people, and that’s where I started my career. I started from scratch, and at some moment in my career, they called me at ten o’clock in the evening saying, “Luciano, there’s an opportunity, we need to start a new project in the fragrance business,” and I said, “But we don’t have it,” and they said, “Exactly, we have to start it.” And I took the challenge. They said, “But we have bad news, you have to go to Neuchatel.” At that time, I lived in Rome, I originate from there, and I didn’t know where Neuchatel is. So, I moved there for 10 years and started from zero. When we started this project, we were like one room with five people. With Salvatore Ferragamo, again, we started from scratch.


What is your favorite fragrance of Salvatore Ferragamo?

Now, I’m wearing something we will launch in February 2020. During this wintertime, I use more woody, spicy scents, and in the summer, some fresh and citron scents. Generally, I always try every single fragrance we develop, except for women’s lines, I just put them on sometimes. But for men’s lines, I want to live with the scent to understand what it means.


What is your most significant personal success?

The Ferragamo parfums. The company was to make 1-3 million, and soon, we will reach 100 million. Of course, I’m not alone, there’s always the team, but as the CEO of the company, I always tried to lead the company to success. Signorina is undoubtedly an Oscar-winner. It’s not easy to win two Oscars in life, but this is it.