claus porto: 2 posts

The Simple Miracle of a Soap Bar

Ever since I made my own scented soap as a perfumery trainee, I’ve been fascinated by the transformation that happens when oils and lye come together. How could such simple materials produce a shiny white bar? And how could the addition of aromatic essences transform an ordinary soap into a small luxury? This is the topic of my recent FT magazine column, Artisanal Scented Soaps.

I talk about my favorite fragrant soaps from brands like Marius Fabre, Claus Porto and Santa Maria Novella.

When exploring artisanal soapmakers, I would be remiss not to include one of Florence’s treasures, the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. This venerable institution was founded by Dominican friars around 1221 as an infirmary for the monks. Eventually it began producing a range of balms and medicines for the general public. Today, Santa Maria Novella is a cosmetic and perfume house reputed for its simple but elegant formulas.One such example is its iris-scented soap Sapone Fior d’Iris. The fragrance is of iris roots and it lasts on the skin well after a shower, making this soap a perfect companion to an iris perfume like Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Colonia Iris or Chanel 28 La Pausa. To read the full article, please click here.

What is your favorite scented soap?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Love Affair with Perfumed Soap

My first scented purchase—made when I was ten—was not perfume.  Rather, it was soap, in the shape and smell of a peach. The soap cost a dime and I was loathe to use it, since this luxurious object purchased at a church bazaar would be impossible to replace. I recall the weight of the soap in my hand and the globular shape that split in half to reveal a pit.  I adored the smooth texture of the soap and the delightful scent as I put the soap to my nose to smell the sweet, fruity aroma.

soap

The enjoyment of fragrant soap has not changed for me.  Finding a new soap that has rich, creamy lather and sublime fragrance is always a treat.  Often, the fragrance from soap is the only one I want to wear for the day, and this is especially true when I’m suffering from olfactory fatigue.  That’s when I reach for a lightly scented soap, perhaps one with a marine or fruity fragrance. I’ve always been thrilled when a favorite fragrance has a complementary soap (or shower gel) and there are occasions where the soap is the only form of a fragrance that works for me.

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