Bastions of old world beauty, a legion of apothecary brands find themselves in the midst of a revival. But these purveyors of creams, candles and colognes are more than just throwbacks – they connect to a modern sensibility. Perhaps their heritage helps us remember a simpler time, when our evenings were illuminated by candlelight instead of cell phones? These brands of yore tap into a sense of nostalgia and encourage us to partake in beauty rituals as a radical act of self care.
Santa Maria Novella, established 1612
Let’s journey to the rolling hillsides of Florence. Enter Franciscan monk Fra Angiolo Marchissi, who harvested herbs from the monasteries to create medicinal balms and ointments for the Grand Duke of Tuscany. 400 years later, and although the brand now offers a plethora of scented confections, the wisdom of nature is still at the forefront. Soap bars enriched with extra-virgin olive oil sit beside lavender salts and even aromatic vinegar originally used to combat the plague. In short, Santa Maria Novella is holding fast to its traditions as a proclamation of its ability to stand the test of time.
Cire Trudon, established in 1643
Not long after, we find Claude Trudon illuminating the streets of Paris. In homes, parishes and palaces, his beeswax candles were famed for their immaculate white color and superior burn time. Enduring both French revolution and the invention of electricity, the brand still manufactures and packages by hand in Normandy.
Officine Universelle Buly, established in 1803 and re-imagined in 1994.
Moving on to the new guarde, we enter the universe of Ramade Touhami and Victoire de Taillac. The pair took an unremarkable European apothecary and transformed it into a luxury beauty phenomenon. Inviting customers to have “one foot in the past and one foot in the future”, the founders are eager to revive artisanal practices, going so far as to create an illustrated encyclopedia of natural beauty, as well as producing a soon-to-air Netflix series on the subject.
Their most recent collaboration with the Louvre presents eight fragrances inspired by famed artworks in the collection. This amalgamation of history and innovation is sure to captivate modern connoisseurs in search of a salve from the proliferation of minimalist offerings.
In rediscovering these cult brands, we explore the richness of history and elevate our daily mundanities into pleasurable indulgences. Plucked straight from another era, these brands remind us that beautification is not a passing fad, but an intrinsic human desire to feel beauty, see beauty and be surrounded by beauty.
Article first published here. Image by Badlands Studio.