The Merchant of Venice, The Many Fragrances of Venice

Venice smells lovely, thanks to the Serenissima’s haute couture perfume house, The Merchant of Venice. Perhaps one of the most refined fragrance collections in the world pays homage to the beauty of the Venetian culture.

With more than a century of experience in perfumery, the founders of The Merchant of Venice, the Vidal family, have carefully curated a hundred exquisite fragrances to express their everlasting love for their city.

The Merchant Venice, the many fragrances of Venice
The Merchant Venice, the many fragrances of Venice. Photos courtesy of the brand

Founded in 2013, The Merchant of Venice takes inspiration from ancient Venetian perfumery art. The scent creations, made in collaboration with highly respected perfumers such as Michael Carby, Roxanne Kirkpatrick, Yann Vasnier, Marion Costero, Nisrine Bouazzaoui Grillié, Carine Boin, Jordi Fernández, Dalia Izem, Gaël Montero and Cyrill Rolland are delightful.

The Merchant Venice, the many fragrances of Venice

Inspired by grand journeys of exploration of raw materials, The Merchant Of Venice fragrance collection expresses the uniqueness of Venice and its beautiful multicultural location through ornate fragrance bottles and inspirational scents. These include Ottoman Amber, Colonie Veneziane, Damascus Desert, Divine Rose Extrait De Parfum, Andalusian Soul, Flamant Rose, the peacock-inspired Imperial Emerald, Gyokuro ESP (meaning jade dew, the color of Japanese green tea) and Blue Tea (after butterfly pea blossoms).

The Merchant Venice, the many fragrances of Venice

The Merchant of Venice scents the Hotel San Clemente Palace Kempinski, Belmond, Hotel Cipriani, Ca’Sagredo Hotel, and Hotel Milano Scala. Fragrance buffs find their products in the Pura City Spa in the Ca di Dio hotel.

Venice’s perfumery tradition began in 1060 with the marriage between Princess Teodora Ducas – daughter of the Emperor of Byzantium, and the Doge Domenico Selvo. By the late Middle Ages, Venice was Europe’s largest trade port. Perfumes arrived from along the “Silk Road” across sea routes controlled by Byzantines and Arabs. Soon, Venice became the perfume capital of Europe. Ships arrived laden with exotic ingredients from Africa and the East—nutmeg from India, amber and musk from the Black Sea, myrrh from Egypt, and lavender from the Barbary Coast. In 1271, Marco Polo brought back many cultural aspects of China, including body care.

Rosa Moceniga Eau de Parfum, Venice fragrances
Rosa Moceniga Eau de Parfum, Venice fragrances

The fifteenth century saw the foundation of Venice’s corporations of “saponeri” (soap makers), “muschieri” (perfume producers), and “venditori de polvere di cipro” (cypress powder haberdashers). They supplied the royal courts of Europe. Early recipes for cosmetics were published in a sixteenth-century book, Notandissimi Secreti dell’Arte Profumatoria  – The Very Noble Secrets of Perfumery Art.

Gyokuro Frangrance of Venice
Gyokuro Frangrance of Venice

In collaboration with the Fondazione Musei Civici of Venice, the neon-Gothic Palazzo Mocenigo is Sante Croce, with its Rubelli wallcoverings, is now a perfume museum as well as a study center for the history of Venetian textiles and costumes. Another spot to learn more about scents is the Libreria Studium bookshop in St Marks, which hosts composition and olfactory training courses.

The Merchant of Venice’s flagship store is in a seventeenth-century pharmacy shop in Campo San Fantin. There, customers can buy or try samples and enjoy the olfactory pyramids (top, base, and heart notes) of Philippe Romano’s 2016 Rosa Moceniga (after the eighteenth-century Chinese rose found on Giudecca Island, La Fenice (a tribute to the Gran Teatro the opera La Traviata and its heroine Violetta), Saffron, Rose Flamant, Sauve Petals (rose and peach blossoms), My Pearls and Vinegia 21, an eau de perfume concentrate created for the 1,600th anniversary of the city founded on March 24th in the year 421.

Every Scent Tells a Story

The Ca’ d’Oro Palace inspires the blue and gold flacon of Arabesque in Venice. Other fragrances are inspired by the trade routes that made Venice so important.

The “Muda” was a commercial line of the Republic of Venice that traveled by a naval convoy subcontracted by the State to private merchant companies. The system operated continuously between 1315 and 1533. The Muda distinguished themselves from completely private merchant enterprises because commanders of the Republic led them. Ship captains were representatives of the State.

The Muda della Tana di Romanie route inspires the Merchant of Venice’s Byzantium Saffron EDP. The Mandarin Carnival by Muda del Trafego (Tunis, Alexandria, Beirut, and Modene) and Sauve Petals by the Muda dell Acque Norte routes took in in Spain and France.

Venice has always been a very aromatic city, celebrated today fragrantly by the Merchants of Venice.

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