‘The culture of perfumes was literally infused into me,’ declares Dr Paolo Vranjes. Coming from most, this would sound faintly ridiculous. But for this master perfumer, it truly is difficult to remember a time when scents were not central to his world. ‘My grandfather was a silk trader with a passion for essences,’ he explains, ‘and as a child I would watch him in the room where he kept his collection of perfumes which he searched for on his travels around the world. I was captured by that universe of rare, transparent bottles with their unusual, evocative scents, and I was fascinated by the secrets they held within them.’
His childhood experiences of fragrances, once his grandfather recognised the young man’s passion and brought him into his world of essences, led naturally to studies in the art. While these formative years were spent in Bologna, it was Florence he chose as the home for his business ventures. The city is, in his own words, ‘the cradle of perfumes and scents’, and it was here in 1983 that he founded his Antica Officina del Farmacista. Consistently pushing boundaries in the fragrance world, the firm was soon at the forefront of the market.
Smells like home
But it was not personal fragrances that proved to be Vranjes’ calling. Or, at least, not fragrances for the person. Soon after he opened his first shop-cum-laboratory in central Florence, Vranjes started experimenting with the scents that perfumed his boutique, watching the distinctive reactions that different notes could produce in his clients. The aromas that surround us, he realised, can be just as personal as the scents we wear. And it was this that inspired his most successful line, Dr Vranjes Home Fragrances, which launched to great acclaim in 1999.
In a revolutionary move for the time, Vranjes and his team applied the same expertise and dedication to home fragrances that were being applied elsewhere to perfumes. Continuing the Antica Officina del Farmacista’s approach, which balances the results of innovative techniques with constant research into the traditions of the craft, the range takes the idea of home fragrances to the next level.
Beauty in every aspect
At the core of the collection is a range of diffusers, but these are no ordinary diffusers. Not only are the fragrances themselves exquisite, but the process behind crafting them is also exemplary. Each element is handmade by artisans in Florence, and Vranjes is keen to stress that the Made in Italy guarantee applies to every aspect of his collections. Presentation is never an afterthought; the scents are encased in an array of beautiful glass vessels, from octagonal bottles inspired by the architecture of Florence’s iconic cathedral to bespoke creations designed to fit seamlessly into customers’ homes.
A scented path
There are scents and vessels to cater to every taste, every room and every atmosphere. Vranjes believes in the idea of a ‘scented path, dedicating a fragrance to every room of the house’. And his olfactory imaginings don’t stop there. From delicate fragrances perfect for scenting linens to perfumes designed to accompany dinner parties, and aromas aimed at work environments to specialised scents for cars, no element of daily life is overlooked. Currently he’s excited about a new line of candles, made from the most luxurious waxes and the finest essential oils, which will infuse their surroundings with the soothing combination of soft light and comforting perfumes.
Scents of the past
While the trappings are fantastic, it is the scents themselves that take centre stage for Vranjes, and it is his long-standing personal connection with the world of aromas that drives his business forward. ‘When creating a scent, my goal is to recreate the odour that I have in my mind, connected with past memories and emotions,’ he explains. ‘My inspiration comes from the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, experiences and memories that I link to specific perfumes.’ For Vranjes, every scent is as exciting as the first – ‘My favourite fragrance will be the next one I create!’ – and he wants his clients to experience them the same way.
His boutiques are crucial to this process, and there are currently six in Italy across Milan, Rome, Venice and, of course, Florence. The in-store experience is unique, and Vranjes is rightly proud of it. ‘We offer a dedicated olfactory décor consultancy inside our shops, recommending the right fragrance for every ambience.’ Packed wall to wall with seductive scents, the boutiques are truly the best way to experience the world of Dr Vranjes. Members of staff are on hand to help you along your way but, as Vranjes himself will tell you, scent is utterly personal. He won’t give advice on choosing the right fragrance, because only you can make that decision. ‘Just let your senses guide you into an unforgettable scented experience.’