I sometimes forget, but long before I had wrapped my head around the brilliance of Emily Weiss, I had already found a personal fairy godmother when it came to matters of beauty. I'm talking about my fabulous friend (have I any other?) Kristien. My ever expanding perfume collection (bane of my boyfriend's existence - he lives in constant fear of the next addition) can be traced right back to a moment six years ago, when she gave me a bottle of scented body lotion from The Body Shop. I loved it so much I had to go buy the perfume as well - and lo and behold, an addiction was born.
She was also the one to introduce me to Kiehl's - I now own 4 of their products, not including samples and the facial cleanser + moisturizer that were confiscated by the evil security assistants at Bologna airport. I fought for my babies, I swear I did. I tried everything from persuasion ("I know you can't take over a 100 ml and the bottle says 125 ml, but LOOK, there's barely 50 ml left!") to puppy eyes to bitchfacing to fake crying. Turns out I'm not capable of that unless you give me a batch of onions and some outtakes from the avarage Britain's Got Talent audition. Group portrait of the surviving relatives:
I dressed them all in black little cloths for a month. Anyway, my following trip to Italy proved to be more auspicious, not in the least because it took me to Florence. Coincidentally, my sweet fairy godmother had recently once again given me a beautiful present. Wouldn't you agree the best presents in life are those you desperately wanted, only you didn't realize until you got them? In a stroke of genius, Kristien had gotten me soap. Not just any old soap. Manufactured by the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, this was, quite literally, the holy grail of all soaps. The Officina is attached to a church, the Santa Maria Novella, and is of the oldest pharmacies in the world. I'm not a particularly religious person, but if us Belgians entrust brewing the best beers in the world to monks, I don't see any reason for them not to excel in other more worldly matters such as beauty treatments.
My friends, this is the soap to end all soaps. The first time I used it - I'm not exaggerating here - I was flabbergasted by how... incredibly... clean?... it made me feel. My skin was so thouroughly cleaned it didn't quite feel like my skin anymore. Back in the days, people who cursed were sometimes punished by forcing them to wash their mouths with soap. I'm pretty sure that whoever was forced to use this particular soap never dared utter more than an awkward whoopsidaisies afterwards. In fact, I bet that upon entering heaven, Saint-Peter will personally hand you a towel, your room number and a bar of this heavenly soap.
So of course, when we arrived in Florence on a glorious Sunday morning, I insisted we should pay a visit to the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Suffice to say it's quite amazing.
I was about to ask a sales assistant the price of their Aetas Salubris-range when my boyfriend, a little pale in the face, tried to rip the serum out of my hands and hissed it cost about 150 euros. I know a lost fight when I see one and I didn't even try to argue. Let me tell you something about L'Oréal: their advertising slogan does not work on men. Florence was enough of an experience to come to terms with my Aetas Salbruis-less life, though. How can anyone not be content with great wine, the best of company, and a view like this?