Once upon a time there lived an Italian princess who dreamt of being more than just a beautiful face. When Marcella Fazi married Prince Paolo Borghese, Duke of Bomarzo, it was in 1942, an era when society insisted that the place for upper-class women — especially royalty — was in the palace, not in the workplace. (And what a palace it was: the family owned Villa Borghese and the landmark Borghese Park in Rome, skipping distance from the grand Spanish Steps.)
But enterprising Marcella had other ideas. While her prince became the President of General Motors in Italy, the princess dreamed of creating her own cosmetics, instead of commissioning them as did most aristocratic Italian families. Drawing inspiration from her family heritage and Tuscan spa retreats, Princess Marcella Borghese began what has become the preeminent Italian-inspired beauty brand.
Her empire started with two lipsticks — one for blondes, one for brunettes — which blossomed into a full line of lipsticks to match women’s hair and clothes. One of her first collections was a specialty lipstick line to match the bright colors of Italy’s preeminent luxury knitwear label, Pucci, helmed by Marcella’s friend Emilio Pucci, the Marquis of Barsento, also known as the fashion world’s “Prince of Prints.”
A serendipitous 1956 meeting in New York City with Charles Revson, the Revlon founder, resulted in a business deal to help develop and co-create Marcella’s cosmetics and skin care line, dubbed Borghese Cosmetics. Marcella became one of the first to focus on ingredients based on natural spa therapies, in particular the healing mud and mineral waters of her beloved Terme di Montecatini spa in Tuscany. The Princess passed away at the age of 90 in 2002, but to this day, Borghese’s most famous skincare products remain their spa-inspired mud treatments in a jar.
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