An “800-Year-Old Startup” Launches Its First Range of Eaux de Parfum

The Italian house of Santa Maria Novella has been making aromatic elixirs since before the Renaissance, but it has taken until now — and the chance rediscovery of a botanical curiosity — for it to segue into perfume.

Article by Victoria Pearson

santa maria novella_1The historic flagship store in Florence has been trading for centuries. Photograph courtesy of Santa Maria Novella.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that with advancing age, surprises tend to become less positive. A parking ticket. A sobering diagnosis. An unanticipated home repair. As time marches relentlessly onwards, joyful revelations become few and far between, making them all the more precious when they do strike. 

Gian Luca Perris, the chief executive officer and “nose” of the 800-year-old Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (commonly known as just Santa Maria Novella), describes one such rare — and special — surprise. At the insistence of the brand’s product development manager, Eleonora Gavino, Perris and his team ventured out to the gardens of Florence’s Villa Medicea di Castello in search of “Bizzarria”, a rare periclinal chimaera (a plant comprising genetically distinct tissues) of bitter orange, etrog and lemon. First observed in 1644, it was believed lost to time until a chance rediscovery of the plant in 1980, among other botanical curiosities, on the Medici villa’s grounds. 

When the team arrived at the garden, “not only was Bizzarria unveiling herself,” as Perris puts it during a trip to Australia, but they realised they had found “a magic place”. Perris describes encountering hundreds of types of citrus and an endless array of herbs, aromatic plants and flower fruits. “We literally were sniffing everything in their garden and saying, ‘Oh, this is so magical, we have to talk about this stuff,’ ” he recalls.

Scent has been a guiding force in Perris’s career. Born in Rome, he studied economics and commerce at university, but soon fell into the family business: perfumery. His father, Michele Perris, founded the fragrance, skincare and pharmaceutical company Perris Group in Milan in 1981. The younger Perris eventually launched his own range within the house under the name Perris Monte Carlo.

In 2020, the Italian investment holding company Italmobiliare approached Perris about becoming CEO of Santa Maria Novella, in which it had recently purchased a majority stake (it took full ownership the following year). Founded in Florence in 1221, Santa Maria Novella was originally established as a Dominican friars’ convent, cultivating herbs to make medicines for their monastery’s infirmary. Over time, it expanded its offering to include aromatic waters and tinctures — it created a bergamot-based scent for the future Queen of France Catherine de’ Medici in 1533 — before officially launching commercial activities in 1612. The brand, which is today synonymous with artisanal soaps, rosewater, candles, lotions and its iconic terracotta pomegranate room freshener, thrived during the Renaissance and has withstood wars and plagues. However, upon his appointment, Perris recognised that the company needed to overcome lingering challenges in order to carve out a successful future.

“When we arrived, there was no structure, basically,” says Perris. “It was a relatively big brand worldwide, but we had no management. There was nobody taking care of the APAC market,” he adds, referring to the Asia-Pacific region. “There was nobody as a commercial director worldwide, there was nobody on marketing. There was nobody specifically on ecommerce. So we really had to restructure every step of competencies.” In other words, says Perris, it was an “800-year-old startup”.

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the Gelsomino scent blends floral, spicy and woody notes. Photograph courtesy of Santa Maria Novella.
Gian Luca Perris_santa Maria Novella
Photograph courtesy of Santa Maria Novella.

Fortuitously, Perris took the helm prior to the brand’s 800th birthday in 2021. To commemorate the milestone, his team conjured a product that both represented the city of Florence — as much a part of Santa Maria Novella’s DNA as any herb or botanical — and capitalised on Perris’s olfactory expertise: L’Iris. “The iris was the perfect ingredient for this,” says Perris of the floral, an ancient symbol of the region. Although the brand is famed for its scented waters and eau de colognes, L’Iris was, surprisingly, Santa Maria Novella’s first eau de parfum — a blend of iris butter with jasmine, magnolia and leafy green notes. 

Following the popularity of L’Iris, Perris expanded the category this year to include three other eaux de parfum inspired by the di Castello gardens: Bizzarria (timur pepper, neroli, orange blossom, cedar and musk); Gelsomino (jasmine, bergamot, tangerine and geranium); and Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora, white rose, Arabian jasmine and amber). Each is available in 50ml and 100ml bottles, priced $285 and $425, respectively. 

The collection, aptly named I Giardini Medicei, instilled within Perris the confidence to originate further. “Yes, we are blessed — we have so many nice products that we can sit and relax on,” he says. “But if we really want to remain in line with the market, we have to continue thinking of innovation.” 

A commitment to the UN Global Compact prompted the formation of a company-wide environmental, social and governance (ESG) program, and the brand is reducing the use of plastic in its packaging. Skincare is another area of development, with an extended range underway targeting hydration, which Perris hopes will be received with enthusiasm.

“The brand deserves to be a major player in the beauty world without losing this identity,” he says. “You have to find the right balance: do the right step and select the right distribution, only to go for the right product, not compromise.

“This is what I really wish for the brand, and I’m pretty sure it will arrive there.” 

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our eighth edition, Page 28 of T Australia with the headline: “On The Scent”

Matte Eye Shadows That Bring Sophistication to Holiday Season Makeup

Veer away from the lipstick this festive season and make your holiday look all about the eyes.

Article by Caitie Kelly

14-TMAG-TRANSYLVANIA-HOTEL-5Clockwise from top left: Merit Beauty Solo Shadow in Midnight; Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyeshadow Matte in Dusk; Ombres d’Hermès eye shadow quartet in Ombres Végétales; Ami Colé Lid Joy in Bed-Stuy; 19/99 Precision Colour Pencil in Wasser. Courtesy of the brands.

Holiday makeup looks typically lean into the festivities — think red lips and loads of sparkle — but for a more subtly sophisticated look, consider this season’s array of new matte eye shadows. “I love the contrast of a matte shadow on the eyes alongside a luminous complexion,” says celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon. Laura Mercier’s Caviar Stick Eye Shadow comes in moody colours like Dusk, a mauve, and the navy Midnight Blue that can be drawn on lids and smudged out for a smoky eye. For daytime, Ami Colé’s Lid Joy is a super-pigmented liquid shadow in rich browns that complement a range of skin tones. For those interested in exploring something more electric, Aharon (who recently worked with Gwyneth Paltrow for the CFDA awards) suggests starting with a liner, like the multiuse Precision Colour Pencil from 19/99. It comes in a bright orange and cornflower blue that can be drawn on the lash line for just a wink of colour or buffed out over the lid. Merit’s creamy Solo Shadow offers statement shades like navy blue and army green that go on sheerly so you can add depth as you layer. When working with powder shadows, like those found in Hermès Beauty’s Ombres d’Hermès palette, Aharon likes to first use a primer and then hold a folded tissue under the eye to catch any fallout. For Aharon’s suggested luminous complexion, dab Westman Atelier’s Liquid Super Loaded highlighter onto cheekbones.

Sadie Sink’s Beauty Routine: A Red Lip and Apple Cider Vinegar

The ‘Stranger Things’ actress shares her beauty regimen with T Australia.

Article by Caitie Kelly

07-TMAG-SADIE-SINK-ROUTINE-2Left: The actress and Armani beauty global ambassador Sadie Sink. Right, clockwise from top left:Armani beauty Luminous Silk Concealer, giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com; Giorgio Armani Sì Eau de Parfum, (100 ml), giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com; CosRx Acne Pimple Patch, amazon.com; Armani Beauty Lip Power Matte Lipstick in 400, giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com; Rodan + Fields Spotless Daily Acne Wash, rodanandfields.com; May Lindstrom the Blue Cocoon, maylindstrom.com; and Demalogica Special Cleansing Gel (8.4 oz), dermalogica.com. Left: courtesy of Armani Beauty. Right: courtesy of the brands.

I wash my face in the morning with Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, then moisturize with the Blue Cocoon from May Lindstrom — it’s been my go-to skin-care product for about four years. I finish with the Rodan + Fields Essentials Sunscreen. Day to day, I typically don’t wear makeup. If anything, I’ll use Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Concealer as needed and a gloss or balm rather than a lipstick — I’ve been using Vaseline forever. But if I’m ever taking it up a notch for an event, typically someone else is applying the makeup and I gravitate toward a red lip rather than a dramatic eye. Armani makes a nice true red that I’ve been using. I’m more consistent with Armani’s Sì Eau de Parfum — it’s part of my routine.

I have this one product from Rodan + Fields’s Spotless line that I’ve used for a really long time: It’s a face wash that helps with breakouts, especially if you’re wearing makeup a lot. I’ll only use it at night because it’s more drying. If I have a spot that is really annoying, I’ll use a zit sticker from CosRx. I don’t love using soap on my skin. My mom taught me the benefits of an apple cider vinegar bath — you pour half a bottle in the tub. It sounds disgusting but it’s really good for the pH of your skin.

I don’t place a lot of importance on hair products, I’ll just steal them from hotels, but my stylist Tommy Buckett always uses Iles Formula Finishing Serum. He just cut a foot of hair off my head for a role. I thought I was going to miss it but it’s really empowering. I feel more like myself with short hair.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Try Celine’s Latest Scent, Inspired by Bath Time

Hedi Slimane’s latest fragrance journey at Celine unveils Cologne Céleste, an homage to personal memories and cherished rituals.

Article by Caitie Kelly

09-TMAG-HUDSON-VALLEY-BOOKSHOP-3Celine by Hedi Slimane Cologne Céleste, Huile Céleste, and Lait Céleste Pour Le Bain, celine.com. Courtesy of Celine.

Hedi Slimane’s line of fragrances for Celine, which debuted in 2019, draws from a journal of the designer’s personal olfactory memories such as a bergamot and coriander seed-scented sail down the Seine as a 20-year-old or the palo santo that reminds him of the nine years he spent living in Los Angeles. The brand’s newest perfume is designed to bring Slimane back to one of his most treasured childhood rituals: bath time. Cologne Céleste, which also comes in the form of a perfumed oil, bath milk and soap, takes inspiration from warm soaks and the delicate perfume they leave behind on skin and clothes. The scent opens with citrusy notes of neroli (an extract from the bitter orange tree), lemon and petitgrain and is rounded out by powdery orris and ambrette butters. For those who want to extend the line’s use from bathtub to closet, the Triomphe-embossed soap can double as a pretty fabric freshener when left in a drawer. From $520, celine.com.

How to Apply Lipstick the Right Way

It does involve using a liner but not necessarily in the way you might think. Plus, tips for smoothing your skin and layering on colour that won’t smudge.

Article by Caitie Kelly

20-TMAG-APPLYING-LIPSTICKClockwise from top left: The Lip Bar Nonstop Liquid Matte in Rich Auntie, thelipbar.com; Chanel Le Crayon Lèvres in Clear, chanel.com; Madame Gabriela Lipstick in Mexico City at 9pm, shopatduchess.com; The Lip Bar Straight Line Creamy Lip Liner in Straight Lovin’, thelipbar.com; Westman Atelier Lip Suede in Les Rouges, westman-atelier.com. Photograph by Anthony Cotsifas.

Lipstick has been used, in various forms, for millenniums, but the struggle to make its colour last has, seemingly, existed for just as long. Solutions have included the pots of red ocher that were often buried alongside mummies in ancient Egypt, to ensure a russet-lined smile well into the next life, and the potent mercury-laced vermilion mixture that was applied to rosebud effect in the Elizabethan era. Why go to all this trouble? Perfectly tinted lips “make you look finished and polished like nothing else can,” says Jenn Streicher, a makeup artist and founder of the New York beauty boutiques Scout and Duchess. Here, a guide to applying lipstick like a professional.


Prep Your Lips

Begin by sloughing off any dead, flaky skin. “I have clients run a really hot washcloth over their lips,” explains Daniel Martin, a makeup artist and the global director of artistry and education at the beauty brand Tatcha. “The water hydrates, and you are physically removing the dryness.” Next, Martin applies a slick of Tatcha’s moisturising Kissu Lip Mask ($29) that he allows to sink in while completing the rest of his client’s skin care routine. (When she’s on the go, Streicher reaches for Ada Lip Beauty’s Lip Rally [$18], a stick-shaped scrub made with exfoliating sugar beads and hydrating plant butters.) An important, often-overlooked next step is to wipe away excess oils before adding colour. As the Chanel makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown explains, if an emollient product hasn’t been fully absorbed, “the wax of a pencil will not grab onto the lip; it will just float in the moisture.” To avoid the problem altogether, she preps with Chanel’s Le Lift Soin Lèvres et Contours ($95), a light cream with a matte finish.

Use a Liner

Liner can help prevent colour from fading or feathering outside of the natural border of the lips, but it’s often applied incorrectly. Brown’s technique, which ensures the pigment wears away evenly, is to fill in the entire mouth, rather than just lining it. She suggests applying liner while smiling, so your lips are taut. Begin by tracing the very edge of your lips with the pencil then colour in the outline you’ve created. Martin, on the other hand, prefers to apply liner after lipstick, to touch up the edges. “This really helps to seal the deal, exaggerating or finishing off the shape more perfectly without leaving that pesky ring behind,” he explains. If you’re skittish about lining, you might consider instead using a clear wax pencil, such as Chanel’s Le Crayon Lèvres ($35), to stop color from bleeding into fine lines around the mouth. Alternatively, a pencil that’s close to your natural shade can produce a soft, subtle effect. Try one from The Lip Bar’s range of Straight Line Creamy Lip Liners ($10).


Apply Lipstick — Then Apply Again

“You want a colour that will stain,” explains the makeup artist Gucci Westman, who is partial to the tomato and fuchsia hues in her namesake brand’s Lip Suede: Les Rouges palette ($85). She suggests “a matte texture and a shade that is dark, deep or bright and super pigmented.” Matte products contain fewer oils, which makes them less prone to smudging. But they can also be drying and feel heavier than a gloss or salve. For the sake of easy application, The Lip Bar’s Nonstop Liquid Matte ($14) — which comes in 21 bold tones, ranging from brick red to orchid purple — goes on like a gloss at first, as does Violette’s Petal Bouche Matte ($28), whose final texture Streicher compares to that of “a rose petal.” But to the makeup rookies she encounters at her stores, she recommends Madame Gabriela’s manuka honey and plant-oil-infused collection of lipsticks, ($35), which have a satiny balm-like feel.

Once you’ve chosen your product, apply a thin layer, either straight from the stick or with a lip brush. Blot using a tissue and apply again, repeating the process until you’ve achieved an opaque colour that has melted into the lips. This technique not only helps to create a powerful stain, it also imparts a more lived-in effect. “I blot so that it doesn’t really look like I’m wearing anything on my lips. You can do it with any colour or tone and it will still look quite natural and not so lipstick-y,” says Westman. For a crisper finish, translucent powder can be lightly dusted on top of your liner and in between the layers of lipstick. And if, later in the day, you have a new problem — your lip colour now won’t come off — Westman says that applying some oily Egyptian Magic balm (from $6) and removing it with a hot washcloth is a fail-safe solution.

So Meta: Beauty Goes Boldly Into Virtual Worlds

Despite being inextricably linked to the physical, the beauty industry is harnessing transformative apps and avatars that, paradoxically, allow us to present an authentic version of ourselves.

Article by Helen Hawkes

BEAUTY_META AI_1Above: avatars from L’Oréal Groupe’s collaboration with the metaverse platform Ready Player Me, which aims to foster inclusivity and diversity in the virtual space. Courtesy of L’orÉal Groupe.

If your beauty regimen doesn’t yet include virtual consultations and try-ons for skincare and makeup, online tutorials and the creation of new looks in cyberspace, it’s time you explored the future face of beauty. As digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI) consume everything, everywhere, beauty brands are accelerating new initiatives to lure and retain customers, as well as connect with uber-tech-savvy gen Z and millennials, and busy boomers who demand the luxury of convenience. 

A 2022 study by Accenture found that the increased use of technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is powering investment in new capabilities and experiences that blend the physical and the virtual. “For consumer-facing companies, it’s not about deciding if they’re going to go into the metaverse, it’s deciding how,” commented Jill Standish, the senior managing director and global head of Accenture’s Retail industry group. 

Think of the metaverse as an immersive virtual world that mirrors the physical one via interconnected networks so that users can have experiences, interact and transact; in this space, the cosmetics industry can supercharge both consumer engagement and buying opportunities. One of the most prominent examples of how beauty brands are catering to this new reality is their adoption of virtual try-on (VTO)technology, which is so compelling because the looks it creates are both immediate and personalised. With Estée Lauder’s Virtual Try-On, for example, you no longer need to guess your perfect foundation or lipstick shade, as the technology does it for you. The brand’s iMatch Virtual Skin Analysis tool, meanwhile, instantaneously tailors skincare recommendations. Chanel’s free Lipscanner app lets users search their surroundings for a colour they like, snap a picture of it with their smartphone cameras, then have it matched to a shade of Chanel lipstick, which they can virtually try on and order through the app. By the end of 2021, the app featured some 400 products. 

Cult beauty label M.A.C began its AI/AR journey a few years ago by partnering with Perfect Corp’s YouCam app to provide customers with a virtual try-on experience for several of its eye and lip products in which texture, shine and even glitter can be easily seen. The customer response was so enthusiastic — the brand reported a 200 per cent increase in engagement — that M.A.C now offers more than 1,700 of its products on the app, catering to every skin tone and face shape. The brand has since enhanced the experience with VTO “full looks” including Date Night and Holiday Glam. The makeup brand Nars has also implemented virtual try-on across a wide range of product categories, driving engagement and sales. 

In 2018, L’Oréal Groupe revealed it had acquired ModiFace, a Toronto-based tech company specialising in augmented reality apps whose clients have included Shiseido, Estée Lauder and Sephora. L’Oréal Paris Virtual Try On takes the guesswork out of hair colour — no more follicular disasters — and a range of makeup looks, either live or after you upload a selfie. The beauty behemoth has also launched the Maybelline Beauty App virtual makeover. Signalling that this new reality is anything but superficial, L’Oréal is also taking a significant step into the world of business. In July, the group announced that executives will soon be able to choose from 12 virtual makeup looks for Microsoft Teams meetings — perfect for the appearance-conscious who don’t have time to execute a full maquillage IRL. 

Technologies like this reduce uncertainty about how a product will look on the consumer, increasing customer confidence and boosting sales, says L’Oréal Groupe’s chief digital marketing officer, Georgia Hack. “We know there’s an intersection between science and technology, which includes augmented products and increasingly connected and personalised services,” she says. For L’Oréal Groupe, the future of beauty lies in “creating unique, multisensory beauty experiences”.

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The Nars digital ambassador “Power Player” Sissi, inspired by the brand’s Powermatte Too Hot To Hold lipstick. Courtesy of Nars.

Me, myself, I 

Thanks to the evolution of the metaverse, there is also a highly lucrative market for selling luxury fashion and beauty products that don’t exist except in cyberspace. Premium fashion brands including Gucci, Nike, Balenciaga and Tommy Hilfiger are already heavily invested in this fast-emerging virtual space. Following the development of its own game, “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow”, to showcase its autumn 2021 collection, Balenciaga partnered with Epic Games to produce a fashion collection for avatars in the Epic video game “Fortnite”. The looks extend to Triple S trainers, caps, backpacks, jackets and hoodies that sell for thousands of V-Bucks, the currency of the game, purchasable with real money (although some pieces are free). With more than three billion gamers worldwide and consumers already spending $155 billion a year globally on virtual goods, lucrative brand-building opportunities are almost unlimited.

In early 2022, Decentraland, a virtual world with environments built and owned by its users and secured using blockchain technology, staged a Metaverse Fashion Week. Guests were served virtual drinks during catwalk shows by brands ranging from Dolce & Gabbana to Roberto Cavalli, with Estée Lauder the exclusive beauty brand. With the help of Alex Box, a makeup artist who is prominent in the metaverse, Lauder created an original, non-fungible token (NFT) wearable inspired by its bestselling Advanced Night Repair serum. Box said she translated the product into an immersive “‘Radiance Aura’, a twinkling constellation of glow and magic”.

The beauty brand also created its first Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP) badges for the event. Stéphane de La Faverie, global brand president, Estée Lauder & Aerin Beauty and group president, The Estée Lauder Companies, says the metaverse outing marked a “pivotal point” for the company and was a “groundbreaking way” to present products to a new generation of clients.

Late last year, L’Oréal announced its partnership with the cross-game avatar platform Ready Player Me. The plan? To deliver Maybelline New York and L’Oréal Professionel makeup looks and hairstyles to avatars across more than 4,000 apps and platforms, including VRChat and Spatial.
It’s hoped the free technology will help to build brand loyalty. More recently, Maybelline New York launched its first digital avatar, May, in a campaign for its Falsies Surreal Extensions Mascara. The rollout spanned the virtual and real worlds, with model Gigi Hadid enlisted as the (human) global ambassador.

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M.A.C’s virtual try-on lets users see whether a product would suit them without visiting a store. Courtesy of M.A.C.

… And you, of course 

As consumers worldwide become more orientated towards inclusivity, beauty brands are capitalising on this opportunity to expand market share via the metaverse. For its Metaverse Like Us campaign, launched last year, Clinique asked three artists to create makeup looks for the avatar community Non-Fungible People, which represents women, nonbinary people and those facing challenges such as mobility issues or skin conditions. Customers can shop the products that inspired the looks, while Clinique gains access to a diverse beauty community. 

The brand established a presence in the metaverse in 2021 with the launch of a digital collectible through an NFT. Its virtual storefront, The Clinique Lab, launched here in May, is a digital space where customers can create custom avatars and browse products, talk to a consultant and learn about products.

Last year, Nars announced it would enlist three virtual brand ambassadors for its Powermatte Lipstick launch to challenge unrealistic beauty standards in underrepresented communities and, of course, forge new markets. The trio of “meta-humans” interact with customers across the brand’s website and on the social media platforms Instagram, TikTok and Douyin. Avatar Maxine is a tribute to the toffee-apple-red shade Dragon Girl; digital ambassador Chelsea is inspired by dusty rose American Woman; and Sissi is a visual representation of maple red Too Hot To Hold. 

Hack says L’Oréal also believes it can effect positive change in the metaverse at both a collective and individual level: “It will allow us to tackle inclusion challenges, and we are putting our resources behind emerging technologies that mean everyone can have access to smarter beauty.”

Meanwhile, brands are using events combining virtual and physical reality to engage different generations with diverse profiles and budgets. At the Sephoria: House of Beauty event, held in New York at the end of September, in-person attendees tried out exclusive products, had hands-on experiences and learned from surprise guests. Virtual attendees logged on to an immersive 3D gaming-like platform where they could create their own avatar, chat live with a beauty advisor and play games to earn points for a loyalty program. 

Towards the future 

While Web2, the current version of the internet, allows users to interact and collaborate with one another through social media, user-generated content and virtual communities on sites including TikTok, the shadow of Web3 — a blockchain-based version of the internet that includes cryptocurrencies, NFTs, decentralised finance and more — continues to expand. 

It’s not certain how Web3 will reshape the cosmetics industry, but there’s no doubt more novel applications are on the way. NYX Professional Makeup, for example, recently announced the world’s first beauty decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO), GORJS, which will bring together a 3D artist community and provide a launchpad for 3D creators, who are at the heart of the metaverse. Also supporting creativity in Web3, L’Oréal Groupe, Meta and the French business school HEC Paris have teamed up to create what they claim is the first metaverse start-up accelerator. Based at the Station F campus in the French capital, the collaboration aims to empower this ecosystem for augmented reality, virtual reality, avatar creation, 3D production, token economies and Web3 user experience, and to build by design a creative, more inclusive and diverse metaverse.