Joseph Palazzolo started the perfume company after emigrating from Sicily to America more than a century ago. Joseph opened a barber shop in New York’s lower east side, and as a sideline, created restorative tonics for graying hair. This evolved into fragrances, and a family business that has passed from grandson to father to son was formed.
It is not surprising that a Sicilian barber found his destiny as a creator of legendary perfumes in the new world. He came from a culture that revered fragrance in all its forms, with a long history of making fine perfumes.
The travels of Marco Polo, and the trade routes of the Silk Road, ensured that Italian perfumers had many new spices and raw materials with which to experiment. Apothecaries did a brisk trade in creating fragrances to sweeten the lives of the rich and powerful.
Venice was a natural center for these raw oriental materials, as it was on the trade route. Many new perfumes were created in that lovely city in the Middle Ages. Glassmakers also came to prominence, creating perfume bottles of such exquisite beauty that they became prized objects in themselves.
Catherine de Medici, the Queen of Henry II of France, brought Italian perfume skills to the French court. She created the wonderful lavender fields of Provence by bringing that crop to the area from Tuscany. Catherine brought fragrance into every aspect of her life. She appointed Rene Bianco, a Florentine apothecary, as her court perfumer, whose specialty was perfumed gloves. Other items of clothing, even boot leather, was similarly infused with fragrance, and perfumed sachets, pomanders and ‘sweet bags’ that could be placed with linen or sewn into clothes, were also popular.
Using raw materials
Nowadays Italian fragrance tends to favor these raw materials. The perfumers of Antica Farmacista continue the tradition with fresh floral and spicy fragrances for their range of perfumes and body products, using grapefruit, pomegranate and mandarin, as well as tuberose, hyacinth and Casablanca lily.
With such a strong tradition of creating beautiful perfumes behind him in Italy, it is little wonder that Joseph Palazzolo finally gave up the barber shears and created a perfume to immortalize a legendary beauty.