Florentine profumiere, master of scents

The ancient art of fragrance

Cassandra Brown
February 23, 2006

It is perhaps fitting that Florence, the city that was once the home of legendary artists, powerful merchants, and skilled artisans, has given us a Master of Scents. Like all great stories, the foundation of The House of Lorenzo Villoresi started in an unusual way. Having graduated from Florence University in Religion and Philosophy, Lorenzo continued to carry out research for the university, taking himself on travels to the Middle East and Asia.  While  in search of information, books and artefacts, he stumbled into the sensual and fascinating world of fragrances.  The use of incense, oils, balms and resins was fundamental to life in these countries, and he was able to buy perfumes, spices and scents in a myriad of different markets.


He started to collect and blend them for interest, for himself, and then for his friends and family.  By putting together essences, he was able to create custom made fragrances, and this led to a passion and a desire for greater knowledge and experimentation.  Word spread and soon Lorenzo found himself creating fragrances for people who craved something different, personal and beautiful.


The company was formed officially after a request from the House of Fendi to create room fragrances for their home collection.  After other successful projects, among them perfumes for Emporio Armani,  Lorenzo began to think that it may be possible for him to produce a collection of his own. So, Uomo, for men, and Donna, for women, were created.  Born of the personal taste of Lorenzo and his wife, Ludovica, these two products remain in the collection today and are great successes.  There are now fifteen fragrances in the collection, with the sixteenth soon to appear.  Lorenzo also maintains the art of creating custom-made perfumes for  clients, among them celebrities and royalty from around the globe, who desire a unique fragrance, .


The process of creating a personalised fragrance occurs in an exquisite penthouse overlooking the Arno, Lorenzo’s former home, now his  showroom.  Clients spend time talking with him about their likes and dislikes, about any special associations with particular scents and smells, both negative and positive, and what their ideal fragrance would be.  One customer even wanted the scent of a sweaty horse to be captured in his fragrance.


Using this conversation, Lorenzo begins to mix essences, with the client actively participating in the process, regularly smelling the resultant blend.  Eventually a bottle of perfume is produced,  the exact formula of which is retained on file should the customer wish to buy more in the future.  They are advised to wait at least four weeks before using the fragrance, to allow it to settle and blend correctly - a mini ‘ageing’ process.


The House of Lorenzo Villoresi now supplies twenty four countries in the world.  Italy is the number one consumer, with Germany and America following closely.  There is no active marketing of the product, instead the company relies on word of mouth.  This strongly follows the whole concept of Lorenzo’s work – he is an artistic perfumer, not catering to a mass market, but instead creating a work of art that is appreciated by people who desire this level of quality and luxury.  It is, as Ludovica Villoresi describes, ‘rediscovering a choice’.


The fragrances are found in two main divisions, the ‘Classic’ and the ‘Fantasy’.  The Classic scents include the original Uomo and Donna scents, which Lorenzo and Ludovica still wear today.  The Fantasy collection includes the scent created four years ago, Teint de neige, which was a massive success and is still today the best seller in every country.  When creating fragrances, Lorenzo has an image in his mind.  For Teint de neige it was the ladies of the Belle Epoque who painted their faces with pale powder to enhance their femininity and delicate appearance.  To summon up this image, Lorenzo employed a technical trick – normally when a perfumer creates a feminine fragrance, the ‘powdery’ effect is only one aspect, and the one that remains on the skin after evaporation.  However, Lorenzo took this little part and made it the whole fragrance, to create a powdery scent.  And in so doing, he created a masterpiece.


Images of the souks and bazaars of the East are summoned up in the second best seller, Piper Nigrum, also from the Fantasy collection, which contains peppers and spices.  It is easy to smell the pampas grasses and herbs in Yerbamate, which was created with the South American pampas in mind.  The mythical place of Mesopotamian legends, the home of the sun, was the inspiration for Dilmun, a sunny fragrance with bitter orange blossom (Neroli) and hints of citrus.  Lorenzo’s fragrances can perhaps be described best as a lace, with different aspects showing through, creating a journey of discovery for the senses. 

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