We find out why the artisan brand chose the UAE for its first international boutique
Merchant of Venice brings perfumes in Murano glass bottles to Dubai
The Merchant of Venice perfume boutique may have launched just over five years ago, but the foundation for its philosophy – spreading an appreciation for Venetian perfuming art – was laid many centuries before.
By the 1200s, the Italian city had become one of the main centres of perfumery thanks to its strategic location on maritime trade routes. And so it was that Venice’s industrious muschieri (perfumers) along with its saoneri (soap-makers) could partake in the exchange of new ingredients, high-quality raw materials and finished products. In the 1400s, the Guild of the Muschieri was born, and by the 1500s, Venetian scents and cosmetics were the most coveted in all the European courts of the time.
“Dubai is the Venice of the 21st century,” says Marco Vidal, chief executive of Merchant of Venice, when asked what prompted the company to choose the UAE as the location of its first-ever international boutique. “[Just as] Venice was born from the waters and became one of the richest cities thanks to its trade for several centuries, Dubai seems to me an impossible city risen from the sand. It is the result of a vision and engagement that from the desert generated a world economic capital, open to the world and a favourite location for luxury brands and pharaonic projects.”
Vidal is a fourth-generation member of one of Italy’s most prominent perfumery families, which has been involved in scents, soaps and spices since Angelo Vidal established his Profumi trade company in 1900, and then opened the region’s first fragrance workshop at the Palazzo Mocenigo (Lord Byron’s preferred residence to write poetry when he was in Venice).
His heirs carried on the business, launching its latest iteration in 2013. The Merchant of Venice flagship is now fittingly located within an erstwhile pharmacy store from the 16th century, on Campo San Fantin. In 2014, the brand’s aromatic creations – crafted by independent perfumers – were selected to be stocked at Salon de Parfum in Harrods London, a space dedicated to refined fragrances. However, the Fashion Avenue space in The Dubai Mall is the brand’s first stand-alone boutique outside Italy.
“Artistic perfumery is exploding all over the world because it puts the perfume back in the centre. The olfactory creativity, the originality and the uniqueness are exalted, rather than the allure of advertising,” says Vidal. “The perfumes stocked in Dubai are special pieces of olfactory art. We propose our collections in beautiful Murano glass or flacons with decorations inspired by the Venetian style. But, above all, the fragrances are the result of deep research, selection of special raw materials and the creativity of our perfumers.”
Alexandra Monet is one such nose, who has created seven fragrances, including the unisex Liberty, for The Merchant of Venice. Monet, who was in Dubai for the store’s recent launch, says scents should go above and beyond gender. “Choosing a perfume is about expressing your taste and your personality; you can do whatever you want as long as you are comfortable with it.
“Liberty, for example, is all about leather. I love creating leather fragrances because there are many different ways to express this facet in perfumery. It can be smooth, raw, animalic, soft… For Liberty, I used a combination of suede leather with saffron, which is an amazing association for me. This fragrance is rich and sensual, and it makes a real statement.”
Liberty is part of the brand’s Murano range, one of five collections that pay homage to various aspects of Venetian life, from its storied glass to its famous people and monuments. These include: Venezia Essenza, which takes in notes from the Spice Route; La Fenice (named after the Gran Teatro La Fenice institution) and Nobil Homo (the Venetian explorer). The brand also has a line of 40 monothematic eau de toilettes, which can be used in combination with your regular perfume.
Fragrance dos and don'ts
“If you want to layer fragrances, you should pick perfumes that are not too complex, otherwise the result might not be harmonious,” says perfumer Alexandra Monet. “If you want to increase the fresh facet of your current fragrance, you can layer it with a crisp cologne.
“On the contrary, if you want to make it more sensual and long-lasting, wear a white musk fragrance under your current perfume. Fragrance has to generate an emotion, so always wear a fragrance on your skin before choosing it. Don’t pick a perfume only by smelling it on a blotter,” she advises.
Marco Vidal, chief executive of Merchant of Venice, says: “While creating and choosing fragrances is really personal, there are some ‘don’ts’. Don’t rub, just spray, in order to preserve the integrity of the fragrance and ensure it lasts longer on skin. I also like to wear the same scent during a particular season, day or mood: a fragrance describes your sensations and feelings, and it is a way to be known by others.
“And, not many people know that some good areas to spray on fragrances include not only the décolletage, but also your ankles and behind your knees.”