Who invented perfumes

History of perfume

Centuries of mysticism and seduction

Aromas, incense resins, fragrant essences - the history of perfume is a piece of cultural history and tells of religions, customs, customs and the economic development of mankind.

The name perfume is derived from the Latin "Per Fumum" and means "through the smoke", since for a long time the coveted fragrances could only be dissolved by the heat of the fire.

Fragrances appeared for the first time in ancient civilizations and advanced cultures such as Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. Blossoms, incense resins, fragrant ointments and aromatic oils served as offerings to the gods and were used to anoint the dead. The fragrance promised an approach to the divine, fragrance was considered an expression of beauty.

Through the Phoenicians, the fragrant treasures found their way to the countries of the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa. But it wasn't until the Persians invented distillation that perfume was made possible.

middle Ages

The Crusaders of the Middle Ages brought the art of perfume making to Europe, where it was believed that aromatic smells would protect against disease. The wealthy carried perfume balls filled with aromatic resins, musk and ambergris. Fragrances inspired the imagination of the poets, lovers prepared for each other in fragrant baths, a new culture of living and hygiene began to develop cautiously.

Renaissance 1490 - 1600

The new worldview put Europe in a spirit of optimism. Art, culture and science flourished again, alchemical recipes from the Middle Ages were replaced by the first chemical treatises. Great explorers such as Columbus, Magellan or Vasco de Gama brought new, aromatic raw materials such as cocoa, vanilla, tobacco and cloves to Europe. It was the age of the ideals of beauty and fragrances were a must. Perfume manufacturers from Italy and Spain settled in Paris, and fashion gadgets such as

Fragrance gloves.

© Marie Elisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun

Baroque 1600-1700

The French court of Versailles set the tone in fashion and physical culture. Bathing was frowned upon, Louis XIV only took one bath in four years. Intense body odor was drowned in perfume. The glove makers were allowed to use the title "perfume maker" and also to call themselves "powder maker". Montpellier and Grasse became the world capitals of perfume.

The Enlightenment 1700 - 1789

The dictates of fashion shaped taste and feminine elegance. Hygiene came back into fashion, favoring finer fragrances, which the first perfumers got rich with. Grasse, the center of perfume production, flourished, sophisticated techniques such as enfleurage and distillation were cultivated, while in Cologne Jean-Antoine Farina invented Eau de Cologne in Glockengasse 4711.


Marie Antoinette

Romanticism 1790-1840

The French Revolution had no mercy on the perfumers of the nobility, they were only rehabilitated by Napoleon's wife Josephine, who brought perfume back into fashion as a precious pleasure. It is said of Napoleon that he valued eau de cologne.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the upper middle class also developed a preference for luxury goods. Perfume production became more and more an art, chemistry and newly discovered substances such as heliotropin, vanillin, coumarin and aldehydes led to a revolution in smells. The hour of birth of modern perfume production had come.

Well-known perfumes: Kantirix by Francois Millot and L’Ideal by Houbigant