By Eva Whalen
The Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella in Firenze recently opened a store in New York City, at 285 Lafayette Street in Soho, so we can revel in the fragrances that Italians have loved for centuries. Especially unusual and heaven-sent are the pomegranate and orange blossom colognes. The pomegranate is called Melograno, and is culled from the fruit of the plant (originally from Persia, trivia buffs) and is depicted in many of the greatest works of art. This is a distinctive, truly original scent because it’s mixes the tartness of pomegranate with a persistent, powdery floral undertone. It’s good for day or night, and is unique enough to be a “signature” scent. ($74)
The classic orange-blossom cologne is simply called Santa Maria Novella Cologne, and was originally created for Catherine de Medici when she left for France to marry Henry 11. This perfume is dubbed “the water of the queen” as a result. It’s still hand-formulated in Florence, adjacent to the beautiful Piazza di Santa Maria Novella in one of the oldest pharmacies in the world: the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, established in 1222 (and you thought Bigelow’s in NYC had been around a while). Also present in this cologne are bergamot, white flowers, and exotic spices – and it’s suitable for both men and women. ($63)
This is a pedigreed, authentic collection with a rich history and a reverential base of loyal fans. With so many commercial, mass-marketed brands, it’s refreshing to find a secret trove of quality products that can set you apart.
The Santa Maria Novella line also includes antique preparations such as lozenges and “Seven Thieves” water for fainting spells, liqueurs, soaps, skin care items, satchets, sprays, candles, children’s cologne, toothpaste, hair care items, a men’s line, and pure essences. Available at Santa Maria Novella stores in Soho in NYC, 212-925-0001, and on Melrose Place in L.A., 323-651-3754, or at www.lafco.com