I love a timeless, elegant citrus based scent – who doesn’t? And, while the French are true alchemists with florals and essential oils, it’s the Italians who make scented magic with citrus.
When a bottle of the iconic Acqua di Parma Colonia landed on my beauty desk, I was beyond excited to try it, as it speaks to all the aspects of pure citrus scents that I so love – authentic, sophisticated and unique.
But first, I want to take you on a little journey that details Italy and the tradition of citrus distillation…
We’re in the Renaissance period and the tradition of perfumery is starting to gain momentum. In a workshop run by monks, the air is redolent with scent from the garden of healing herbs and the orange, lemon and bergamot trees that grace the monastery.
Illuminating both body and mind, the waters obtained from citrus distillation represent the birth of the culture of Italian fragrance as we know it today.
It’s now 1916 and Carlo Magnani, an entrepreneur and aristocrat from Parma, owns several tailor’s shops in the center of the city. Carlo is a well-travelled and has experienced a range of international cultures. Although he’s attitude is very modern for the time, he misses the country of his birth and wants to always keep the sun and light of Italy with him on his intrepid journeys around the world.
Upon his return to his native land, Carlo entrusts an important task to a small laboratory in Parma: to capture in an essence (that’s what fragrance was referred to back then) the elegance, style and light of Italy.
This leads to the creation of an eau de cologne that embodies the tradition, brightness and freshness so characteristic of Italy: Colonia di Acqua di Parma. Parma, the quintessentially Italian city, whose ancient palazzi are bathed in the golden rays of the sun. Light, shadows, culture and timeless elegance.
Orange and bergamot – the Italian Frutti d’Oro (golden fruits) – are the mainstays of the fragrance, with each fruit carefully selected and hand-picked. These fruits are the essence of light and energy captured in a bottle.
The hallmark of style
Carlo Magnani used to scatter a few drops of Colonia onto the tissue paper enclosing a tailored suit. On opening it, the gentleman would be surrounded by a clean, fresh, new scent, far removed from the opulent style of the time. There was also the uniquely Italian ritual of spraying a handkerchief and slipping it into a pocket before leaving home: a simple, refined and distinctive gesture.
The history of Cologne
The history of cologne goes back over many eras. The first recipes – which had therapeutic properties – became real formulations made with aromatic extracts, water and alcohol. Traces of cologne can be found in court records dating from 1300, but it was not until 1614 that Florentine monks began producing proper preparations with proven effects on health and wellbeing.
In 1709, Giovanni Paolo Feminis, a very young Italian perfumer living in the city of Cologne in Germany, created the first true cologne water, which he named “Aqua Mirabilis”. It became popular with various society figures, and its use spread throughout the courts of the European capitals, particularly in Paris, the origin of the well-known definition of “Eau de Cologne”, which also became its name.
This type of fragrance is so unique that today, the word “cologne”, indicates a specific olfactory structure made from a balancing of citrus notes (such as bergamot, lemon, orange, mandarin and grapefruit), aromatic notes (lavender, neroli and rosemary), and floral and woody notes. The quantities of ingredients selected, and their quality, source and concentration are still a secret. This is what makes Acqua di Parma unique.
The Acqua di Parma bottle was created in 1930. It’s modern and classic – a true masterpiece of craftsmanship and an elegant expression of the Art Deco style.
Acqua di Parma Colonia is a unisex fragrance. It top notes include fresh lemon, sweet orange and Calabrian Bergamot. The heart notes are herbaceous and floral with notes of lavender, Bulgarian Rose, Verbena and rosemary. The dry down is elegant, and notes of Vetiver, Sandalwood and patchouli linger on the skin.
Acqua di Parma Colonia has become a symbol of style and discreet sophistication. And, it’s worth remembering that style never goes unnoticed….
Acqua di Parma is available to purchase at selected Foschini beauty outlets for R2075 for a 100ml Eau de Cologne.