Weird scented snippets from historical past… (you could not make it up!)

There have been some actually weird moments in fragrance’s historical past (who, I’ve at all times puzzled, was the primary individual to think about including civet to a scent, or discovering ambergris might add a magical contact to a perfume?) To your olfactory delectation, we thought we’d pull collectively a number of scented snippets, masking perfume from the daybreak of perfumery to more moderen historical past. Whereas in search of to demystify perfume since we first launched The Fragrance Society, it’s typically enjoyable merely to look again and surprise. And also you actually couldn’t make these fascinating information up…



Egyptian clergymen, and their Pharoahs, have been entombed with fragrances – and when these tombs have been opened by archaeologists, in 1897, the perfumes have been found to have retained their authentic, candy smells.  Essential figures in Egyptian historical past have been buried with scented oils, to make sure their ‘olfactory wants’ have been fulfilled.



Hippocrates – ‘the daddy of medication’ – was huge on hygiene, prescribing fumigation and using perfumes to assist stop illness.  The Greeks embraced aromatherapy, making it sensible and scientific moderately than mystical.  Each women and men turned obsessive about ‘the cult of the physique’:  ladies, at dressing tables of their personal quarters (generally known as the ‘gynaeceum’), males extra publicly, anointing themselves on the public baths, after train.  (A ritual that endures in at the moment’s fitness center altering rooms.) 



Emperor Nero was so loopy about roses, he had silver pipes put in in order that his dinner visitors might be spritzed with rosewater.  (Based on legend, he as soon as shelled out £100,000 for a ‘waterfall’ of rosepetals which truly smothered one visitor, killing him.  Fairly a technique to go.)




When the Crusades kicked off – within the 11th Century – among the many treasures introduced again to Europe by Crusaders from the Center and Far East have been fragrant supplies (and perfumery methods).  The celebrated Arabian doctor Avicinna is alleged to have been the primary individual to have mastered the distillery of rose petals, within the 10th Century.




There has at all times been a pure hyperlink between leather-based and fragrance.  As Queen Catherine de Medici’s glovemaker understood, it really works brilliantly to disguise the lingering odor of the tannery.  And in 1656 the Company of Glovemakers and Perfumers – for the ‘maître-gantiers’ – grasp glovemakers/perfumers) was shaped in France, .  (Observe:  at that time, glovemaking was deemed extra necessary.)



King Louis XIV (1638-1715) took the development for perfumery to new heights, by commissioning his perfumer to create a brand new scent for every day of the week. He insisted on having his shirts perfumed with one thing referred to as ‘Aqua Angeli’, composed of aloes-wood, nutmeg, storax, cloves and benzoin, boiled in rosewater ‘of a amount as might cowl 4 fingers’. It was simmered for a day and night time earlier than jasmine and orange flower water and some grains of musk have been added. Like some sort of early material conditioner, it was used to rinse Louis’s shirts.



Napoleon Bonaparte had a standing order along with his perfumer, Chardin, to ship 50 bottles a month. He liked its cooling qualities and after washing, would drench his shoulders and neck with it. He notably liked the scent of rosemary, which is a key ingredient in eau de Cologne, as a result of it flourished alongside the cliffs and rocky scrubland in Corsica, the place he was born.




Fashionable perfumery as we all know and find it irresistible has its roots within the Victorian period.  It was that century’s intelligent chemists who got here up with breakthrough molecules that took perfumery to an entire new stage. The brand new synthetics have been usually extra dependable and secure – and typically enabled a perfumer to seize the odor of a flower whose personal scent proves frustratingly elusive to extract naturally.




Chanel’s mom was a laundrywoman and market stall-holder, although when she died, the younger Gabrielle was despatched to dwell with Cistercian nuns at Aubazine. When it got here to creating her signature scent, although, freshness was all-important. The perfumer Ernest Beaux introduced a collection of 10 samples to indicate to ‘Mademoiselle’. They have been numbered one to 5, and 20 to 24. She picked No. 5 – and sure, the remaining is historical past.



Till the 50s, perfume was one thing ladies principally reserved for top days, holidays – and birthdays. Till one very savvy, go-getting New York magnificence entrepreneur – by the title of Estée Lauder – had a brainwave. So the game-changing perfume Youth Dew started as a shower oil (as Estée Lauder herself as soon as advised us):


‘Again then, a lady waited for her husband to offer her fragrance on her birthday or anniversary. No lady bought perfume for herself. So I made a decision I wouldn’t name my new launch “fragrance”. I’d name it Youth Dew,’ (a reputation borrowed from one in every of her profitable pores and skin lotions)…’