When you pass through the wrought-iron gates that mark the entrance to Lafco New York, you may forget you’re just a stone’s throw from one of Manhattan’s busiest, and ever-changing, retail districts. The loft-like space of this softly lit shop, with its wood floors and cast-iron columns, is a throwback to traditional SoHo architecture; the products displayed there are often wonderfully Old World in nature.
Lafco (“Luxury Articles & Fragrance Company”) offers an enviable selection of home fragrance and body products, including Claus Porto soaps, beloved just as much for their Art Deco-inspired labels as for their scents; Linari’s luxurious oil diffusers; and Lafco’s own fragranced candles. A highlight of the perfume offerings is Lorenzo Villoresi’s line of meticulously crafted fragrances, all inspired by the smells of the Italian landscape and the perfumer’s own memories.
Lafco is also the sole importer of Santa Maria Novella products for the United States, and its own shop offers a comprehensive selection. The centuries-old pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, which began selling its medicinal remedies and personal care products in 1612, still uses many traditional recipes. Its products range from bath salts and talcum powder to natural rosewater, almond paste for dry skin, and a mysterious “elixir” for the treatment of “hysteria,” and all of them are sold in appropriately vintage-looking packaging. Santa Maria Novella’s selection of Eaux de Colognes is arranged on one table. It includes over thirty single-note scents, from Honeysuckle to Musk, as well as several newer (that is, twentieth-century!) blends.
Fragrance brands: Eau d’Italie, Lorenzo Villoresi, Santa Maria Novella.
Not to be missed: The classic potpourri from Santa Maria Novella, a blend of spices and herbs that will keep a room or a closet richly scented for months. It is sold in gift boxes, terracotta jars, and jewel-toned silk pouches decorated with the Santa Maria Novella crest.
Details: 285 Lafayette Street (between Houston and Prince Sts.), New York, NY, 10012; 212-925-0001; lafcony.
Nearby: Bond No. 9 flagship boutique (9 Bond St.), Le Labo (233 Elizabeth St.), Red Flower (13 Prince St.), Bloomingdale’s SoHo (504 Broadway at Broome St.), and a branch of Sephora (555 Broadway at Prince St.)
— Report and images filed by Jessica.
See also: Perfume Shopping in New York City