Home Edizioneed. 10 AUGUSTO MAZZOLARI, the family of perfumes

AUGUSTO MAZZOLARI, the family of perfumes

Written by Monica Camozzi
Photos by Luca De Nardo

Listening to Augusto Mazzolari is like being projected into one of those marvellous TV series with women in cream-coloured crocheted gloves and coiffed hairstyles, protagonists of aristocratic Milan where the bourgeoisie had a distinctive code matured in the aesthetics of education and refinement.

The city of Milan that his father combed, in the first post-war shop in Via Felice Bellotti, where the award-winning activity of coiffeur pour dames complemented the perfumery service.

In those times, there were a few big names, Jean Patou, Dior, a few other emblazoned brands. At the mention of Coty, Vuarnet, Caron’s powders, perception is kidnapped by olfactory memories, images like synapses transmitting frames of 1950s American films.

Today, Mazzolari, with its two-thousand-metre, multi-storey maze packed with every object that feminine (and other) desire can conceive, manages to preserve the seed of that imagery, walking through modernity with its unmistakable effluvium.

Among bottles and bijoux with a fairy-tale imprint, diligent and smiling shop assistants and an Art Nouveau decorativism permeating every molecule, photos with celebrities, personalities from the world of culture, even the Queen, stand out.

My father-in-law is the author of books about Elisabeth, my father-in-law’s father-in-law wrote the Nuremberg Treaty

But above it all, like a wave high above the others, the old passion for filtering perfumes -inherited from his father- remained.

I remember the large bottles in the anteroom when I was a child. My father used to put them on the shelf, to filter the essences

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Did you learn perfume-making from him?
Yes, grandfather was a barber, father a hairdresser with a passion for perfume, we have it in our blood. Then, since I didn’t want to study, he sent me to work when I was 12. A young man showed up with sawdust and a broom and told me ‘now pull it well or else you’ll get a kick in the butt’ (in the original Milanese, a pesciata).

How many of your own essences do you have in the shop now?
There are now 47 Mazzolari branded products. But we have over 400 cosmetic references including beauty, skincare, bath and personal care products.

Are you still the perfumer?
Yes, but I have a very professional staff with me, my daughter Marina takes care of the cosmetics part, Carolina and her husband are two artists, my brother has always worked in cosmetics and my son Alessandro takes care of the niche of signature fragrances that we are opening.

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What is the secret of this success that seems unassailable by the passage of time?
A passion for beauty. When I worked with my father in the shop on Viale Abruzzi, next to us was the workshop of a Flemish painter, he and his wife had a passion for antiques and I would sneak in every now and then. Until I learned that art.

I spent a lot of time in Scotland and England, going around locations and collecting furniture, paintings, valuable pieces cheaply and then reselling them.

This path left me with the expressive richness that I brought to the shop.

In fact, when Caprotti (Esselunga, editor’s note) called me to open perfumeries, I immediately told him that I did not work with neon and that greyness…

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Did you work with Mr Caprotti?
Yes, one day he sent for me, Esselunga in Via Ripamonti had just opened and he wanted to launch the perfumery division.

I remember that with Caprotti we always spoke in Milanese. Seeing the grey counters I told him ‘dutur mi con quei negozi lì ghe lavuri no’ ( dr. Capriotti, I don’t work with such kind of shops…editor’s note)

The following Monday the carpenter was already there to do the new lay-out: we opened about 30 of them.

Is customer service always the most important ingredient?
Absolutely. I’ve never minded spending money, I’ve always trained people in both cosmetics and jewellery, I’ve brought my own taste by declining it in ribbons, decorative papers, flowers, research objects. I come from antiques, I have never done it for profit but for ambition and love of beauty.

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How do you remain competitive?
Today, perfume shops are closing down because you need a huge assortment and trained staff to keep up with the costs. I have staff who have been here since they were kids! My daughter Marina has learnt very well, she uses her head and her experience researching valuable products. We have two very professional beauty floors and now we also have niche perfumery.

Do you always supervise the shop?
Always! I live upstairs…

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