Compagnie de Provence has been offering contemporary interpretations of traditional Provençal soaps and toiletries since 1990. To mark its twentieth anniversary, the company has released a limited edition of its popular Savon de Marseille, a liquid hand soap packaged in a hefty glass bottle. For this occasion, the company commissioned artist Stephan Muntaner to create bottle designs based on the culture and legends of Marseille. The result is a set of three images that look like very colorful sailors' tattoos, with each design named for a fish that would be caught in the city's ancient port.
All three silkscreened images are vibrant and playful, even as they refer to Marseille's oldest customs. La Maquereau (mackerel) celebrates sailors' life on the docks; La Girelle (rainbow wrasse) refers to Marseille's cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde and its gilded statue of the Virgin Mary, the city's protectress; and La Sardine (sardine) is a colorful interpretation of a day's catch and the port marketplace where the fish are sold. The hand soap's scent is described as "a fresh marine fragrance that surprises with a very subtle salty note," and that sums it up well. It's simple and fresh and gender-neutral. There's a hint of bergamot and lemon, and an ambery note, but the main point of the fragrance is a salty sea-breeze effect that lingers on your hands for a short while after you've washed them. It would please anyone who wears and enjoys Mediterranean-marine perfumes such as L'Occitane Calanques or i Profumi di Firenze Brezza di Mare.
Compagnie de Provence has perfected the formula of its Savon de Marseille: this liquid soap gets the job done, but it's gentle. It cleans thoroughly without stripping the skin dry or leaving any residue, and the anniversary bottle design makes it even more appealing to use and reuse. This soap would be a clever gift for someone who loves the seaside, or admires tattoo-inspired art, or just appreciates good quality toiletries.