You know that amazing feeling that comes rushing in when you unwrap a new soap and the fragrance, the beautiful, indescribable fragrance, hits you and you can’t even think or spell out what it is you’re feeling? That’s what happens when I get a new Claus Porto soap — and I’m here to tell you all about it.
Founded 130 years ago by German businessmen Ferdinand Claus and Georges Schweder, it came to life as a much-anticipated store, which is also a museum, in Porto at Rua das Flores, one of the hippest streets in this lovely city right now. We’re talking an entire building here, full of products, history and charm spread across 300 square meters. Architect João Mendes Ribeiro was in charge of the project, to which he so exquisitely blended Claus Porto historic heritage with its intangible character and legacy. The result is three floors devoted intensely to the brand in its whole, harbouring all the collections, from Classico to Agua de Colonia — the latter were created by superstar fine perfumer Lyn Harris, after she and Claus Porto’s art director, Anne-Margaret Honing, embarked on a trip through Portugal to trace and feel inspired by the country’s scents, from Alentejo’s endless plains to Douro’s citric mysteries.
Before that, due to unexpected events, Lisbon got to be the first city in Portugal to see a Claus Porto store, but the one in Porto is still the flagship store, of course. It’s home. However, this is the perfect opportunity to further tell this story to the people living and visiting Lisbon — and the space was also worked on by architect João Mendes Ribeiro, who did a terrific job capturing the brand’s true essence.
But what makes the soaps so special? Well, I could start by stating the obvious and gush over the packaging design, a Belle Époque tribute with illustrations that take us back a century and leave us speechless — and wanting them all. The best, though, has yet to come: when you pick up your favourite, be it the Elite - Tonka Imperial, the Chypre - Cedar Poinsettia or the Alface - Almond Oil — three of my most loved ones — the fragrance seizes you and takes you to a far-off place. An invitation to travel through time with the help of a scent, a texture, a smoothness like no other.
When I was growing up, Ach Brito and Musgo Real soaps were part of my hand and body washing routine, brought to existence by my mother and my grandma. Today the habit’s still here; and getting my hands on a Claus Porto soap is always a pleasure and a delight, a way of retrieving memories fueled by natural ingredients infused with the most delicious fragrances.
Also, congratulations are in order, as the historic brand is preparing to open its first international store, a tradition-packed space in the charming, upscale neighborhood of Nolita, in New York City. The 50 square meters store was designed by architect Jeremy Barbour and his studio, Tacklebox Architecture, and is set to open on October 26.
Flagship Store Porto
Pictures Flagship Store Porto: Bruno Barbosa
Header Picture and pictures shop Lisboa 1-5: Victor Machado
Pictures shop Lisboa 6-9: José Campos
Text: Soraia Martins