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Santa Maria Novella Marks 400th Year With New Store

Lafco New York is opening a shop in Chevy Chase, Md., to showcase the storied brand’s botanical balms, cleansers and fragrances.

Lafco New York continues to show its faith in Santa Maria Novella, the apothecary that originated in a Florentine monastery circa 1221.

Lafco will open its fifth Santa Maria Novella store by May 15 in Chevy Chase, Md., to showcase the storied brand’s botanical balms, cleansers and fragrances. The company is also scouting for sites in Denver and Toronto.

Projected to do $1.1 million in first-year sales, the 1,000-square-foot shop is in a former Cartier store on Wisconsin Avenue across from the Collection at Chevy Chase upscale shopping center.

“Santa Maria has such a limited distribution — that is the brand of store that I’m interested in creating an identity for,” said Jon Bresler, owner and founder of Lafco, which sells the collection to only 60 accounts in the U.S. “Their production is limited. We like to keep the line intact. It has almost 400 items, and we like retailers who represent Santa Maria Novella to carry if not the whole line then at least 100 items, and that’s a very large commitment for an independent retailer.”

Santa Maria Novella accounted for 40 percent of the company’s $11 million in revenues last year, he said. Lafco, an acronym for “luxury articles and fragrance company,” also distributes four other beauty brands to 1,500 specialty stores nationwide.

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A New York store, the brand’s first, and company headquarters opened in 1999 in TriBeCa and moved to SoHo in 2002. Breslin also has Santa Maria Novella stores in Los Angeles and Bal Harbour, Fla.

Santa Maria Novella, the oldest basilica in Florence, opened its pharmacy of herbal remedies and scents to the public in 1612 in response to rising public awareness generated partly by the patronage of Catherine de’ Medici, queen of France. Now privately owned by the Stefani family, the business is celebrating its 400th anniversary with the introduction of limited edition fragrances for women and men.

Both are called Acqua di Colonia 1612 and are distinguished by their bottles. The feminine white floral with jasmine top notes resides in white porcelain, while the classic aqua de cologne with sandalwood and oregano is packaged in frosted glass. Each was produced in a numbered edition of 2,012 and retails for $210 per bottle.

Santa Maria Novella also introduced four skin treatments this year in the new Aetus Salubris Collection, which is Latin for “time of life — favorable to health.” They were selected from a group of skin-recovery balms developed at the request of an American plastic surgeon.