By Kate Harvie
While there are many places in NYC to buy luxe goodies and perfumed delights; there is no place quite like LAFCO. ‘The Luxury Articles and Fragrance Company’ has stood at 250 Lafayette for the last six years and houses a collection of some of the most exclusive and historical fragrances in the world.
LAFCO is the exclusive importer of Santa Maria Novella, the world’s oldest pharmacy still using medicinal herbs and formulations first developed during the 18th century, as well as Eau d’Italie, Lorenzo Villoresi, and Claus Porto, Portugal’s oldest and most prestigious soap maker.
The LAFCO flagship is a welcome respite from the crowds of NoHo/SoHo .As the scents of red poppy, citrus, magnolia, and marine enveloped me on a recent visit, my energy downshifted from hectic and hassled to mellow and meditative. Perusing each brand, the ones mentioned above as well as Linari (forget those ubiquitous fragrance diffusers) whose home fragrances are housed in bottles that appear closer to sculpture, are perfume-grade and smell divine as well as the old world favorites from Lorenzo Villoresi, a line of fragrances comprised of all-natural essences worn by Giorgio Armani, Madonna, and Sting.
Shopping at LAFCO is akin to visiting several different little bazaars. Housing all of these beautiful brands under one roof is the inspired idea of owner Jon Bresler, who is officially my hero. Jon left his career as a successful litigator and filled a huge hole in the US beauty and grooming market by bringing niche luxury European brands with histories of extravagance and the highest quality. As Jon puts it, “We take incredible pleasure in helping our customers discover something that touches them personally. In our assortment of over 80 fragrances, there will be one that smells truly spectacular on them and that is our greatest reward.”
Doesn’t that sound more intriguing than being an attorney?
Santa Maria Novella colognes have a world wide cult following
So now that I’ve shaken off the stress of my day, what am I going to buy?
Santa Maria Novella fragrances are ideal for the sticky summer months – I’ll choose iris and gardenia for going out and vetiver and verbena for those mornings when I just don’t want to motivate: their astringent freshness will keep me on my toes. When I go visiting friends this summer I will take Santa Maria Novella Potpourri as hostess gifts. One of the company’s signature products, the potpourri is made of a mixture of Florentine flowers and herbs. This is not your grandmother’s potpourri.
For my design-savvy friends who have birthdays or just because, this summer, they’ll get Claus Porto Rozan soaps, lotion, and candles. Rozan, or Paradise Rose, is just one of the scents wrapped in Art Deco designs that go back 117 years to the company’s inception. Claus Porto soaps are milled seven times so the bars are fragrant all the way through, loaded with the highest-quality fragrances from the south of France. As luxurious to feel, as they are to smell, the bars contain shea butter and coconut oil so they hydrate and protect the skin. Perfect for skin that’s had too much sun exposure.
Eau d’Italie, a collection of fragrances inspired by La Sirenuse, the iconic Positano hotel. These unisex fragrances contain more than 275 notes and take the wearer on a 45-minute journey before the top and heart notes dry down. The collection includes Eau d’Italie (evoking the Amalfi Coast with bergamot, blackcurrant, and the subtle scent of warm terracotta tiles), Paestum Rose (a sweet and spicy dark rose, is one our Fragrance Editor’s favorites), Sienne d’Hiver (literally “Sienna in Winter,” with chestnuts, leaves, truffles, iris root, and musk), and Bois d’Ombrie (“Woods of Umbria” and contains cognac, leather, vetiver). Each is a journey in a bottle; evoking the sights, smells, and landscapes of their namesake Italian province.
Scents worn in the heat of summer take to the skin differently than in the winter when your skin is dryer Eau d’Italie’s newest perfume, Magnolia Romana, brings to mind the scented breezes in Positano. The heady, yet subtle aroma of the flower is sultry and not at all overpowering: think summer night sexy.
And if you are lucky enough to visit LAFCO when Lorenzo Villoresi’s Teint de Neige is in stock, buy as many as you can afford. It is a true scent masterpiece.
258 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012