Couture Musings

Paolo Costagli’s Olfactory Inspiration

Designers often talk about how the various senses inspire their work, but it’s not often that one’s sense of smell gets much credit. Not so for Couture designer Paolo Costagli! Growing up in Florence, the Tuscan countryside was a welcome respite for a young Paolo, whose family used to own a vast estate in Barberino Val d’Elsa, near Siena, the heart of Chianti. It was a classic Tuscan Villa and it was the only place where he was allowed to roam free, safe from the hustle and bustle of Florence, which was dense with cars and Vespas. Paolo ran around with his bicycle anywhere he wanted, and he immersed himself in intense aromas and strong colors. He felt free and therefore curious to know everything about his surroundings, inhaling colors and aromas not only with his eyes and nose, but also with his inner self.


The San Filippo villa in the Barberino Van D’Elsa region of Tuscany.

He was fascinated by how the same trees and plants would change scents and colors with the turning of the seasons, possessing an intensity that he has not found again in any other part of the world he has visited or lived in since. The unexpectedness of tomatoes in particular always caught his attention, since they actually have no scent per se, but their vines cast a clean and distinct aroma, with a very strong color contrast.

“Somehow I knew these deep emotions would stay with me and eventually resurface at the right time again, but never would I have imagined they would have influenced and inspired my work so much,” Paolo explains.

Fast forward….Paolo sits at his desk in his Fifth Avenue showroom, reminiscing about his childhood, trying to figure out a way to capture the essence of those holidays and weekends spent roaming free. Paolo loves candles, so he started thinking how lovely it would be to have his own line of candles, one that fit a strict criteria: Made in Florence, it has to remind him of the countryside of Florence, it has to be artisinal, not industrial, it has to be unexpected, and it has to have a distinctive character but not be intruding.

Add to this “Eureka” moment two childhood friends, lovely young ladies whose family has been in the candle business since 1866. Their company, Cereria Migone, is located in Sambuca, just outside of Florence and matched all of his criteria. After many, many painful tries the “Vert de Tomate” scented candle was born. “Vert de Tomate” perfectly captures Paolo’s childhood sensations of his family estate in Tuscany, and has proved another way of artistically expressing the most beautiful moments of his childhood.


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Michelle Orman

Michelle Orman

Michelle Orman is the president of Last Word Communications, which spearheads the public relations for the COUTURE show. A 15+ year veteran of the COUTURE community, Michelle is obsessed with all things jewelry and watch related! To be included in COUTURE Musings, email Michelle at

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