Born in Turin in, Sergio’s initial interests lay in graphics and design. Following completion of his studies, he moved to London where he spent his formative years working for various design and advertising agencies and was given the nickname ‘Sir Joff’. Upon returning to Italy, he was appointed Creative Director of a leading design agency working with leading global brands from Bacardi, Ferrero, Lancome, Rolls Royce and Ferrari.
It was however in France where Sergio’s interest in luxury fragrances blossomed after a lengthy period spent in research and training in Grasse. The XERJOFF ‘Parfum Maison’ was then conceived in his hometown of Turin in 2005.
“I grew up in a family who loved fragrances. One of my strongest childhood memories is of my grandmother, a beautiful lady, showing me her exclusive boxes of Lanvin and Coty perfume that she was often gifted. My mother, likewise my father, always had a well selected perfume collections at home as well. My father was a keen traveller like myself, and he spent long periods of time in the Orient and developed a passion for raw oriental ingredients such as incense and santalwood. So perfumes have always been a part of my family.”
Never content just to settle for the creation of ‘just fragrances’, Sergio set out to create intense emotions developed around a multi-sensorial immersion – the story, the look, the touch, the smell, the memories. The Xerjoff collection are now available at the exclusive Salon de Parfums in Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and has just launched at Harvey Nichols too.
We caught up with Sergio for the latest in our ‘My London’ series.
It is very difficult to choose a single neighbourhood, but I can say that Soho and the West End are for sure those I am most fond of. Since the Eighties I have been visiting Soho with its bohemian features. When I was a young designer, I worked in a Soho Agency together with fashion photographers and copywriters; it is there where I started to learn about the artistic spirit of Soho and to truly experience it. I have always been very fond of art and painting and so I have always been attracted to the places and clubs where Francis Bacon and other fascinating personalities used to hang around and work. Today even after over thirty years, whenever I have time, I still have a walk around Soho and the West End for a coffee.
Favourite place for brunch:
The Delaunay in Aldwych. This brasserie owned by Corbin and King serves an impressive brunch menu and every time I go there, I am always impressed by its beautiful interiors. The atmosphere is always appealing and the food is excellent (I don’t eat meat, but this has never left me with no options). My favourite dish at the Delaunay are the egg dishes, beautifully presented together with excellent home-made pastries.
Best coffee in London:
It will have to be Bar Italia in Soho; being Italian, coffee is far beyond a mere quick injection of caffeine. It is part of our culture and tradition. It is a ritual which can make one’s day… or not. At Bar Italia, the espresso machines still use the old manual system and the coffee blends are just perfect. The service is quick but not too gentle… exactly like the real thing. I rate it 10/10.
Favourite gallery or museum:
Victoria and Albert Museum, and although I also love the Tate Modern very much, the Victoria and Albert Museum is the one I visit the most. I think it is without any doubt the world’s leading museum of art and design. The memorable recent exhibitions of Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” and “What is Luxury?” both inspired me very much.
Tell us a secret:
Near Camden Lock there is a traditional English fudge shop… and although I am not much into sweets, the smell of burnt caramel, toasted nuts, butterscotch and vanilla inspired me more than once when I was creating a “gourmand style” perfume for my collections.
Favourite place to shop:
I really love two very different places: the first being Brick Lane, when I am looking for old leather jackets, vintage vinyl records and secondhand illustrated books. The second is Jermyn Street, with its beautiful British artistry and craftsmanship. Two opposite shopping styles, which together sum up London shopping diversity and uniqueness.
Favourite place to find inspiration:
Driving along the Embankment at night and stopping between Monument and Tower Hill at St Dunstan’s Church: one of the most surprising places I have recently discovered. This beautiful abandoned Gothic church was designed by Christopher Wren and it was half destroyed during the Great Fire of London and then again during the Second World War. I think it is an amazing and unique garden and an ideal location providing inspiration, for both photography and filming.
Best London destination for a date:
I believe that is the Gong on level 52 at the Shard. A sunset cocktail (if you are lucky enough to get a place, of course…) is an experience which needs no words of explanation.
I am most fond of Holland Park, the Orangery Gallery and the Kyoto Garden: I believe it is undeniably the most elegant and romantic park in London. Watching peacocks strutting freely around in the gardens is like being part of one of Monet’s paintings.
Favourite food market:
If the question is related to street food, then we will have go back to Brick Lane, the best choice in terms of quality and variety: from North African to Asian, from British to Mediterranean its food is like a multi-coloured picture releasing an incredible mix of scents which is hard to find elsewhere. Not only taste but a multi sensorial experience.
Your sanctuary in the city:
I believe I do not have one. I love so many places in London and I still have to discover many more. Benjamin Disraeli was absolutely correct when he stated that London is the modern Babylon.
What inspires you?
Anything, but especially everything that has a history. Not only museums but also flea markets: I like buying and collecting objects which tell a story or a secret. People, too: London offers a unique opportunity to meet an incredible variety of people with the best stories ever to be told. There is no specific place in London which inspires me – all it takes is a good walk.