I spent one afternoon at the hauntingly beautiful St Pancras Renaissance Hotel with Acqua Di Parma. It was an afternoon with two of my favourite things combined together, great cologne and a stunning location. I can’t believe that I’ve lived right around the corner from here for years but that I have never actually went into the hotel and seen it’s infamous Spice Girls staircase. Acqua Di Parma has been one of my go-to for everyday cologne use for the past two years, I use almost everything Acqua Di Parma so believe me when I say that I really love their products. When the team sent me their classic cologne, Colonia, together with a massive book called Essere Parma about their rich history, I was surprised to learn more about the cologne’s ingredients as I just never really noticed. The brand is Italian, of course, and founded in 1916, it was used to give fragrance to gentleman’s handkerchiefs. To celebrate turning 100 years old this year, the two volume book “Essere Parma” is Acqua di Parma’s tribute to the one place where it all started in Parma: a city north of Italy that’s known for its art and elegance. The book consists of beautiful imagery shot by Giovanni Gastel and a novel by Antonella Boralevi with both volumes centered around Parma, reflecting the past and present state of the city.
The scent is presented as a citrus fragrance composed of lavender, rosemary, Sicilian citrus, Bulgarian rose, amber, jasmine and light musk. It is musky, fresh, smooth and masculine at the same time. I can’t describe my affection for Colonia; it reminds me of a quintessential barbershop in a small Italian town. Old school yet a classic.
Don’t even get me started on the packaging, you know that I’m a sucker for good branding. The bottle is minimal yet elegant, charming in a very subtle Italian way. The box is a strikingly bright yellow that’s hard to miss and long associated with the brand.
Shooting this series of photographs at the St Pancras was everything about an old school charm I had been longing for. The hotel, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott was opened in 1873 as the former Midland Grand Hotel and closed in 1935. Since then much of its apartments were used as railway offices till the 80s before it was picked up for refurbishment in early 2004. Like Acqua Di Parma, the St Pancras Renaissance is full of abundant history and culture that is paramount to it’s time.