Amid the glossy designer boutiques of Milan’s Quadrilatero d’Oro fashion district, Preattoni is easy to miss. A tiny shop, set in a historic arcade on the corner of Via della Spiga, it’s a paean to the art of shaving, overflowing with grooming accessories and accoutrements. “We offer an education in old ways and old brands,” says proud proprietor Lorenzo Preattoni, whose great-grandfather started the business in 1902. “Shaving is a relaxing ritual and I hope people slow down to enjoy it with elegant, useful products – preferably Italian.”
From his eclectic inventory, which stretches from floor to ceiling in this 20sq m space, Preattoni’s thoughtful recommendations include custom deer-horn-handled razors (€180) by Milanese maker Stefano Raffa; beautiful tipped badger brushes (from €36) by Isle of Man-based Simpsons; a sandalwood-scented pre-shave gel (€36) by Piedmontese brand Aequabis; and Black Orchid beard balm (€25) by Gentleman’s Choice of Rome. For those in the market for shaving sets (€90-€570), the selection is vast, with options in wood, bone or metal. “Straight razors are in demand again because they provide the closest shave,” explains Preattoni of the old-school implements – many carved or inlaid with mother-of-pearl – that line his windows to dazzling effect. He singles out a wood-handled, floral-embellished example (from €430) by Italian-German collective Medusa, which, like many of the items for sale, are made exclusively for Preattoni by regional artisans and old family friends. “I like to see classic materials such as shell, horn and shagreen transformed for today’s tastes,” he adds.
There are, however, some exceptions to the all-Italian rule: the drawer of precision blades, for example, includes Japanese Feather and Russian Rapira varieties (from €5) “because they are excellent,” says Preattoni, while London’s Taylor of Old Bond Street provides finishing toilette touches (Moustache Wax, €23), alongside special-edition scents (€110) from Scottish perfumery Castle Forbes. Fragrance, in fact, is another focal point, with niche colognes such as Antonio de Curtis (€130), a recreation of the late Italian comedian’s signature scent by Neapolitan perfumer Mansfield, and Teint de Neige eau de parfum (€130) by Florence’s Lorenzo Villoresi – one of the few expertly curated offerings for women. All are meant to be sampled, adding a heady ambience to this intimate retail experience; both Preattoni and his daughter Veronica, with whom he runs the boutique, delight in educating their customers, who range from local regulars to in-the-know visitors in search of specific items.
Chances are you will leave with more than you bargained for, be it an elegant cigar box (€700-€900) embellished with maps of Cuba, or a sculptural walking stick (from €350) – “symbols of power carried by popes and kings, but now more decorative”. It adds up to a curious mix in a shop with a most colourful character.