A SENSE OF OCCASION
For Dr Paolo Vranjes (pictured, left), perfume has been a lifelong passion. “My grandfather was a silk trader with a love of essences,” he explains. “As a child, I would watch him in the room where he kept his collection of perfumes from his travels. I was captivated by that universe of rare, transparent bottles with their unusual, evocative scents, and fascinated by the secrets they held.”
It was this that inspired the Italian to start his own laboratory at 10, become a cosmetologist and pharmacist when he left university, and launch his perfume house, Antica Officina del Farmacista, in 1983. Today, he is a celebrated “nose”, or perfumer, in the industry and the creative force behind Dr Vranjes Firenze, the artisanal home-fragrance brand sold in Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty London. “My job is my greatest passion,” he says. “Smell is the least developed of our senses but, I believe, the most beautiful.”
Dr Vranjes is one of only a few master perfumers to specialize in what he refers to as “scented decor”. “Choosing a fragrance for your home is as important as choosing which perfume to wear,” he says. “By working on aromatherapy and aromachology – the psychology of scent – we are able to suggest the best ambient space for different scents and use important essences, such as spices, to give energy to a room.”
The power of fragrance comes, he says, from its intimate link to memory. “I find it so interesting that our nose is directly connected to our central control panel,” he says. “It can connect us to different situations in the past. When I remember experiences, I remember the smell of each detail. This talent allows me to bring memories alive.”
Dr Vranjes has created more than 40 unique fragrances. All are available in its iconic bottle (which was inspired by the magnificent octagonal dome of Florence Cathedral) and many are also available in other scented objects, including candles and catalytic fragrance lamps. One bestseller, Aria, is a blend of lemon blossom and mint that was inspired by morning walks with his father. “My dad was a surgeon who’d take me for strolls in the gardens near his offices in summer,” he says. “I’ve captured the delicate notes of flowers yet to bloom, the lively notes of the morning air in early June, and the green notes of grass, still bathed in dew.”
Rosso Nobile was made in response to a friend who suggested no one could bottle the bouquet of a good red wine. “The fragrance comes in a Bordeaux wine bottle, with a decanter for the fragrance and reeds,” says Dr Vranjes, with a laugh. “My friend was forced to change his mind!” It is part of a suite of enchanting scents that includes Bellini, after the cocktail, and Calvados, inspired by the French liqueur.
Dr Vranjes runs his business from beautiful headquarters in Florence, the Italian city with the longest tradition of creating perfume and essences.
Local craftsmen make everything from the company’s packaging paper to its hand-blown glass bottles with a level of detail that reflects the exquisite artistry inside. “I’m really proud of all of my fragrances, like a dad with his sons and daughters,” says Dr Vranjes. “I don’t have a favourite. I always say the best is yet to come!”