Perfume is always about reminiscing, about meeting. Each of us can relate to these distinctive fragrances. They bring back an emotion, a desire, a dream, a fascination, which reminds us of pleasant and scary moments in our lives. French culture has embraced perfume and ensured its place in our modern day society.
Perfume has played a major role throughout the history of mankind. The art of perfumery was apparently known to the ancient Carthaginians, Arabs, Chinese, Greeks, Israelites, Hindus, Egyptians, and Romans. References to the use of perfume can even be found in the Bible. Additionally, containers were created to hold this precious element. The ancient Egyptians used scents lavishly, particularly in their religious rites. Once the Egyptians invented glass, they primarily used their glass containers to store perfume. Perfume use spread to Greece. The Greek glass containers were fashioned in the shape of birds, animals, sandaled feet, and human heads.
In Rome, perfume was extensively used as an aphrodisiac. With the beginnings of Christianity, the use of perfume declined along with the art of glassmaking. In the 12th Century, Phillipe-Augustine of France, passed a law establishing the first guild of perfumeurs. With this law, perfume regained its importance in the lives of rich throughout France. The 1800s saw the birth of modern perfumery in the village of Grasse, France. Growth in the perfume industry continued and by the 1900s, the time was right for a young man from Ajaccio, Corsica, to expand perfume usage beyond the elite classes of French society.
François Coty, first cousin to Napoleon Bonaparte, established a factory outside of Paris in 1905. He created a small collection of floral fragrances, which were very popular at the turn of the century and greatly helped France secure it's position on the world's perfume market. After the 1920s, other countries began to create their own fragrances. This, however, has not diminished France's influence and people from around the world continue to buy and treasure a bottle of French perfume.
What are the necessary skills to formulate a powerful and lasting fragrance and how are these fragrances produced?
To create such a powerful element, one must be an artist, as well as, a scientist. It is mastered by the perfumer who has at their disposal an "organ" with a palette of 5000 to 6000 different scents. There are three basic processes of making perfume:
- distillation - A process which goes back to the Byzantine civilization.
- enfleurage - A technique developed in Grasse, France (birthplace of modern perfumery).
- extraction - A method discovered in the late 1800's and is still used today.
French perfume factories continue to produce some of the finest fragrances in the world. Fragonard, Galimard, Mane, and Molinard are just four of the premier perfumeries in France. That special quality of fresh scent is still appreciated by the greatest perfumers of the world.
Perfume is a natural part our daily activities. From after-shave lotions to bath oils, we apply these scents to our bodies. Industrial perfumes are used to cover up undesirable odors (i.e. paints and cleaning materials) or to release a distinctive odor (i.e.the addition of bread odors to wrapping papers used for bread). So, the next time you use deodorant soap, apply some cologne, or open a fresh loaf of bread, pause and enjoy the moment. These odors are creating life-time memories. May they always be pleasant ones!
Samet Bilir writes about antiques and collectibles, book reviews, holiday shopping and a lot of other things. To read more articles from him visit his website at designaculture.com.