Zizo Attia, creator of Z. Bigatti, got the idea for Minnesota’s most luxurious skin-care product while sitting in front of the TV. As he remembers it: “I’m sitting there one day watching a program on NASA, and at the end I said: ‘We can put a man on the moon but we still cannot make a cream that does what it says it does.’ ”
Cue the next scene: For five years in the early ’90s, Attia spent much of his time holed up in a St. Paul lab while he and a cosmetic chemist crafted what he feels is the world’s finest, most elegant anti-aging cream. When the product was launched in 1994, Z. Bigatti Re-Storation Skin Treatment was the spendiest on the U.S. market, priced at a whopping $150 per two-ounce container.
But money is no object when it comes to a woman’s skin—especially if she falls for the silkiness and light, pretty fragrance of the product. So the cream was a success. Just a year after launch, buyers at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman were already prodding Attia to develop a full product line. Now, on the company’s 15th anniversary, Z. Bigatti offers 20 products, including such goodies as a Lip Pout lip treatment cream, a Deep Repair facial cleanser, and, my favorite, the Champagne Gel Cleanser (prices range from $55 to $295).
Descended from a Parisian family of department store owners, Attia looks the part of his luxury brand, though he's less likely to pass for a Minnesotan. He speaks with a plummy Gallic accent and seems the sort of debonair fellow who might carry off an ascot. In fact, he once bought a Rolls-Royce but then noticed it didn’t have much company in modest Minnesota. “I was so embarrassed I had to sell it,” he remembers.
Attia insists he’s in the Twin Cities for the long haul. He’s lived in St. Paul since earning his business degree from the University of St. Thomas. During the late ’80s, he was the CEO of a local management firm and enjoyed the reputation of a free-spending party host. Today, he gets to trot the globe on Z. Bigatti business (the products are sold on six continents). And since the brand is a celebrity favorite, he often gets to mingle with the stars (he counts Roberto Cavalli among his friends). But even so, Attia insists he never pays celebs to use his products—nor does he shower them with free samples. Nevertheless, Z. Bigatti has garnered unsolicited endorsements from the luminous likes of Mischa Barton and Beyoncé Knowles.
Buy Z. Bigatti locally at Nordstrom, Mall of America, 952-883-2121, nordstrom.com, and Spalon Montage, 3909 W. 49-1/2 St., Edina; 600 Market St., Suite 270, Chanhassen; 8375 Seasons Pkwy., Woodbury, 952-915-2900, spalon.com.