Marseille soap: 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

Marius Fabre Soaps : Provence at Home

French guidebooks often highlight local specialties, be it an Orléanais crayfish flan or Alsatian elderflower wine. That’s how I discovered the Provencal soap maker Marius Fabre.  While fantasizing of a vacation, I leafed through a book on the South of France and spotted a mention of Savon de Marseille, Marseille soap, produced according to traditional methods. Duly noted, Marius Fabre went onto my list of things to try.

marius-fabre1

Ever since I made my own scented soap as a first year perfumery trainee, I’ve been fascinated by the transformation that happens when fats, lye and perfume come together. One wrong ingredient, and a bar of snow white soap turns dirty yellow.  One more mistake–and the whole thing smells rancid, rather than delicious. So, when I stood with my nose pressed against a creamy bar of Marius Fabre’s jasmine soap, I knew that I had discovered something special.

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