Considered one of Milan’s quaintest districts, in addition to its picturesque artisanal workshops, Brera is slowly becoming populated with small yet delectable shops carrying only the most sought-after fragrances, transforming the area into a ‘district of Artistic Perfumery’. For both lovers of signature fragrances and for neophytes who are eager to delve deeper into this desirable universe, we suggest a short tour to experience the enchantment of ‘Haute Parfumerie’, beginning with the historic district of Brera and its countless boutiques.
Mention Brera and you immediately think of the magnificent Pinacoteca which houses a multitude of rare artistic treasures. However, the district has a distinctive trait, namely the ability to evolve while remaining true to its traditions. Over the years, in addition to its small art galleries and shops selling canvases and paintbrushes, countless boutiques showcasing rare essences are springing up. We begin our tour in via Brera where we find Campomarzio 70. Founded in the roaring 1920s during the golden age of artistic perfumery, the establishment grew and flourished. Thanks to its ongoing search for the most exclusive fragrances and cosmetics, Campomarzio 70 has become a reference point for scent connoisseurs and perfumers alike. The plus points of this shop include customized consultations, a champagne corner and an olfactory workshop (by appointment only).
At no. 5, we find the Olfattorio Bar-à-Parfums, (only in Italian) dedicated to specialty perfumery, and boasting a truly unique range of artistic perfumes, niche cosmetics and luxury make-up. The space also has a corner dedicated to Penhaligon’s, the luxury British perfume house established in 1870. The Olfattorio is also present in Milan, at no. 23 via Brera, with the Dyptyque boutique, purveyors of the famous and uber trendy Dyptyque candles, the Artisan Parfumeur in via Bagutta 8, renowned for its pioneering spirit and contemporary fragrances for more than 40 years, and a space at la Rinascente in piazza Duomo.
We end our tour of via Brera at Profumo. Located at no. 6, the store is housed in an elegant palazzo formerly inhabited by the illustrious Beccaria family. The palazzo’s stately granite columns act as a backdrop to the creations of famous international ‘noses’, taking customers on an olfactory journey that only the magic of perfume can offer. Just a little further one, at no. 2 via Solferino, we find the French fragrance of Fragonard. The famous perfumer has opened its first foreign boutique, just steps from the Pinacoteca di Brera (see main picture).
In addition to a complete range of soaps, perfumes and cosmetics, it also carries a selection of ‘Art de vivre’ products including porcelain, kurte andpashminas for women and childreninspired by the concept of a liberated, natural lifestyle, in keeping with the true Fragonard spirit! Our next port of call is via Fiori Chiari, where we find the beautiful window displays of Culti Milano. Over time, in addition to concentrating on home fragrances, this original innovator of the home diffuser has extended its range to encompass a series of body care products.
Alessandro Agrati founded the brand in 1990. This eclectic interior designer drew inspiration from the artisanal working of rattan to create the first ‘reed’ home diffuser, designed to perfume living spaces with a fresh, sensual scent, using rattan bamboo reed sticks to diffuse the fragrances better. The brand also has a boutique at no. 53 corso Venezia.
Just a little further on, we encounter the window displays of Dr.Vranjes. The ‘nose’ behind these fragrances is Dr. Paolo Vranjes (a pharmacist, chemist and cosmetologist) who creates niche perfumes for people and living areas. The in-store experience is unique, and Vranjes is rightly proud of it.
The store offers a dedicated olfactory décor consultancy, recommending the right fragrance for every ambience by evaluating spaces, volumes, lighting and furnishing. We continue onwards to the beautiful via Madonnina, where we find the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, once a humble pharmacy, Santa Maria Novella has become the equivalent of Cartier for natural body care products and essences. Its recipes have remained the same since 1612 when it was founded in Florence.
Just a little further one we find Creed, an historic brand, now run by the sixth generation of the founding family, which has been in business for more than 250 years… a trip back in time to discover the unique essences that originally sealed the success of the London based establishment way back in 1760. We are now in piazza del Carmine, a good place to take a break and indulge in a refreshing aperitivo in the shadow of the imposing Church, before heading to Ponte Vetero to visit 9Nine, a sophisticated perfumery that offers a selection of world-class products ranging from British toiletries to natural cosmetics, with the most prestigious names in the niche perfume industry, including Costume National Scents, Molton Brown, Ligne St. Barth and Bronnley.
Dulcis in fundo, anticipation builds for the opening (once again in Brera) of The Merchant of Venice, an historic perfumery epitomizing the art of Venetian perfume-making, and highlighting the city’s role as the forerunner and inventor of perfume as we know it today. The Merchant of Venice offers a luxury line encompassing a wide range of exclusive perfumes for men and women, body-care products, home fragrances and accessories contained in elegant bottles inspired by the tradition of the city’s famous hand-blown Murano glass.
By Stefania Vida