It's just past 8 p.m. in Rome, the entire city is glowing from the sunset, and Bella Hadid is slowly descending the Spanish Steps. She’s dripping in diamonds and wearing a long, slinky gown, and somehow the regular sea of tourists lounging on the stairs has disappeared. Is this a dream? No, this actually happened, and yes, it was as magical as it sounds. Obviously, the supermodel’s presence would shine through a paper bag, but the glittering scene was set for the launch of the new Bulgari fragrance, Goldea The Roman Night, and Hadid is its face.
Why Bella? The better question is probably why not Bella? But there are a few reasons why the It girl of all It girls is the fragrance personified. She shared a touching story about why the Bulgari house has always had a place in her heart—and her jewellery collection. “When my mom and my dad first got married, he gave her a Bulgari bracelet, and when I was 20, she gave one to me for my birthday,” Hadid told us at the press conference. “And my mom found all of her old Bulgari scents. She’d always tell me about these memories, so it’s funny we’re now working together."
Aside from the heart-warming (and admittedly jealousy-inducing) tale, the scent resonates with her due to it’s youthful but strong notes—more on those later. “It’s a very feminine perfume, but sometimes it smells kind of masculine, which is what I love about it. It’s a sexy smell. I love wearing it,” she says.
This said, technically speaking, the fragrance starts with the formula, not the woman. “My inspiration is the history of the Bulgari. It’s the spirit of Roma—not a city, but a dream,” expert perfumer Alberto Morillas tells me over coffee. A legend in the beauty world, he’s created iconic scents such as Calvin Klein CK One, Cartier La Panthere, and Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio, so as a self-professed fragrance geek, it’s truly an honor for me to speak with this master.
To accomplish that dream-like quality of the Roman night, he uses brighter notes of bergamot, raspberry, and tuberose combined with the darker vetiver, patchouli, and black musk for a scent that makes you stop and think. “It’s boring to just smell floral. Here, you have this contrast and ingenuity, but it’s still really feminine,” he says.
It’s not as heavy of a scent when you compare it to the full family of Bulgari perfumes, making it suitable for a zip through town on the back of a Vespa (which I did, by the way). Personally, I’m not totally opposed to an overpowering perfume, but most of the time, you want your fragrance to boost your mood and accentuate your environment, not distract from it.
“Beautiful Italian women, the music, the lights, the views, the architecture—there’s nothing you couldn’t love about it,” Hadid says when asked to describe her love of Rome. So if you can’t get there anytime soon, at least you have the scent.