Far removed from the fiercely competitive and heavily commercialized world of perfumes sits an oasis of exquisite fragrances found almost exclusively at "alternative" perfumeries. Carrying premium price points sans the 20 percent discount of traditional perfumeries, such fragrance houses as Comptoir Sud Pacifique and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier of France, Mary Chess and Geo Trumper of England, Royall Lyme Bermuda Limited, and The Thymes Limited of Minneapolis beckon a client seeking a special scent without promotional brouhaha.
Twelve years ago, Carlo Facchetti left the tumultuous fragrance business where he worked as a sales executive for such companies as Estee Lauder, Avon, Revlon, and Helena Rubinstein to open Prufumo with partner/creative director Nicoletta Astori. From their alternative profumery in the trendy Brera neighborhood of Milan, Facchetti beamed, "I'm happy with this new role; today anyone can even find designer scents in a tobacco shop. Distribution in Italy's traditional cosmetics sector has grown difficult and without big advertising outlays, it is hard to stay on top."
Through their company, Nic, Facchetti and Astori hold exclusive distribution for most of the upscale brands they carry, including Czech & Speake of Jermyn Street, Kiehl's, Aroma Therapeutics, and Diptyque. "We sell most lines in about 80 stores, but 100 is the maximum," cautioned Facchetti. In 1995, Nic generated sales volume of $974,000 (1.5 billion lire) and for 1996 it projects a rise of close to 20 percent. "We are already ahead 16 percent over last year."
Nic's exclusive client roster includes specialty perfumeries Sacro Cuore in Bologna, Materozzoli in Rome and Chiarini in …