Fragrance quality, fragrance story, meaning, idea, style, concept, design are all essential parts of successful and recognizable fragrance brand and fragrance portfolio, and Fragrance History is certainly not less. With fragrance history we go to the very roots of brand, fragrances attributes, where history dictates and inspires present and future.
A time is an excellent story-teller, it gives you an amazing opportunity to look from above, something we so frequently miss in our daily routine. That is why it was highly important for me to look at fragrance history of brands from above, go as far and deep as modern history allows. I decided to avoid mentioning ancient times of fragrance history (North Africa, Asia, Middle East) and looked at modern times, when fragrance became popular in Europe.
I classified my study in 3 categories:
1.Early 17th and 18th century, over 200 years history (16 brands)
2. Late 19th and beginning of 20th century, over 100 years history (20 brands)
3. Early and mid of 20th century, 40 - 100 years history (25 brands)
The main focus of this study is to have a look at history of fragrance brands, time of foundation, time of first fragrance, years of fragrance operations, and total fragrance history, without detailed story of each brand. Only brief story and some interesting notes are given about each brand. To fully discover exciting, intriguing, adventurous, happy and dramatic stories of each brand I highly advise you to make your own study, as I've mentioned and chosen short info for general overlook.
You will notice that if data is sorted by "Time of Foundation" and "Total Fragrance history" we will have completely different results, as many of the brands started as fashion companies or non-fragrance beauty enthusiasts (candles, make up).
This is Category "Early and mid of 20th century, 40 - 100 years history" where I start with the brands that already have history over 40 years since the time each brand was established. There are 25 brands in this category.
Table 1 is given at the end of the article to summarize information. Information is sorted there by "Total Fragrance History" where #1 has the longest history.
Numeration is based on the time of launching first fragrance.
1. Bois. Guido Galardi following his desire, passion and creativity found his brand in 1920, however shortly after it was closed as non of his sons were passionate enough to continue fragrance art. Only in 1985 Guido's grandson Enzo found himself obsessed with perfumes and decided to revive forgotten family art, and in 2005 he found BOIS 1920 reinterpreting original formulas using only the finest raw materials.
2. Volnay. Just imagine, on one hand, passionate, adventurous and rebellious woman, also the first female passenger to fly over the Andes, on the other, elegant brave-hearted gentleman. She is a beautiful model for Lanvin, fully inspired by the revolution of Art Nouveau era, he is passionate about fragrances working for François Coty, true gentleman with sense of excellence and prestige. Adventure, travel ship crossing Atlantic ocean, they are both destined to meet and become world famous couple to bring to the world one of: “The most luxurious perfumes in Paris in the most beautiful flacon in the world.”. She is Germaine Madeline Duval, he is René Duval, their brand is Volnay. First fragrance "Yapana" was created in 1922.
Interesting note: Original scents of Volnay still remain and preserved at the International Conservatory of Perfumes, the Osmothèque in Versailles.
Interesting note 2: Design of Volnay fragrance bottles is sophisticated creative blend of a bramble, symbol of the brand, boasts a taste for vigorous, wild nature.
Interesting note 3: "base 4092" (powdery, rose, vanilla and clove) is a unique identity of all Volnay fragrances.
3. Worth. Charles Frederick Worth founded his high couture fashion house "House of Worth" in the 1852. First luxury fragrance, Dans La Nuit, in collaboration with world-famous glass-maker René Lalique was launched in 1924. Vintage and revolutionary luxury of that times.
4. Bourjois. Back to 1863, utter inconvenience of oily make-ups that actors were wearing inspired, on the great boulevards of Paris in the theatre district, creation of the first powder blush. Alexandre Napoleon Bourjois played the most important role in creating and developing the idea. The glory of their products was growing and in 1924, Mon Bourjois, the brand's first perfume, was created.
Interesting note: The first Bourjois creations were waxy makeup sticks in many colours, with amusing names like Jealous or Lovesick, specially created for theatre, by Joseph-Albert Ponsin, a genial visionary, part actor and a great cosmetologist. His cosmetic palette broadened rapidly; the refinement and variety of his makeup brought success that extended beyond the circle of actors and actresses. His "Supplier for the Theatre" title on the makeup boxes gave way to a new tagline: "Special Manufacturer of Products for Feminine Beauty".
Interesting note 2: Starting in 1863, Bourjois developed the specific baking process; the little round pot was born. How do you achieve a very fine and silky powdered texture that dusts the skin with soft, transparent colour? Combine a careful amount of powder and water, mix it delicately, pour it into rounded moulds and put it in the oven to bake...this is the principle behind a complex recipe that Bourjois has been improving since 1863. Add a few grams of shimmering mother-of-pearl, let it bake a bit more, depending on the effect desired. One hundred and fifty years worth of experience guarantees a certain expertise in preparing makeup!
5. Corday. Blanche Arvoy, founder of legendary yet forgotten nowadays, started her brand in 1924. Same year the first creation Toujours Moi (Forever Me) was introduced to the world. It rested on great popularity until and after Second World War. A composer Harry Revel was so impressed by the perfume, that he devoted several musical compositions to six Corday perfumes. Another creation, Tzigane (The Gipsy Violin), as prominent and renown as Toujours Moi was born in the 1940's.
Interesting note: ..."In 1936, the British composer Harry Revel met a woman at the bar of the Hotel George V in Paris and was taken by her perfume. (Reports are that she was also quite good looking.) She revealed to him that she was wearing Corday's Toujours Moi.
Revel paid a visit to the Corday operation in the south of France and sampled a number of Corday fragrances. Thus inspired, he composed a series of musical sketches called Perfume Set To Music. To enhance the effect of the music, Dr. Samuel Hoffman, a podiatrist and Theremin virtuoso, was brought in to play the Theremin, an early electronic instrument. Some strings were added, the young Leslie (Les) Baxter was commissioned to arrange and conduct, and RCA did the recording (RCA Victor EPA-231) which is now available on a CD set of Hoffman's music. (Hoffman also provided music for films such as "Spellbound," "The Lost Weekend," and "The Day The Earth Stood Still.")
The six Corday fragrances chosen for Perfume Set To Music were Toujours Moi, Tzigane, Possession, L'Ardent Nuit, Jet and Fame."
Interesting note 2: Founder Blanche Arvoy named Corday after Charlotte Corday (1769-1793) who is best known for curing Jean-Paul Marat's painful skin condition with a knife.
Interesting note 3: Apart from Corday, Blanche Arvoy also established Jovoy, a fragrance house that sold a number of fine perfumes in bottles featuring whimsical animals: Allez hop! (a dalmation dog), Allez Coco! (a parrot), Gardez-mois (a cat), and Severem (a camel and rider).
Interesting note 4: Corday was among the early 20th century perfumers that attracted new customers by launching sample collections. Sample tubes or miniature bottles were distributed, sometimes with matching souveniers such as bookmarks or illustrated cards.
6. Jean Patou. His first dressmaking saloon Jean Patou opened in 1912 but due to the WW1 he sold business and joined an army, albeit foundation of Jean Patou brand can be considered 1919 when after returning from an army he reopened his saloon. First JP (Jean Patou) fragrances were introduced in 1925 (all three were created by in-house perfumer Henri Almeras) Amour-Amour, for brunettes!, Que Sais-je for blondes!, and Adieu Sagesse for redheads!. First in the world Sun Lotion "Huile de Chaldée" was introduced by JP in 1928. Sport fragrances Le Sien were introduced in 1929 (considered to be the first modern unisex scent ever!), and in 1931 his most famous Joy, still one of the great perfumes in the world. In 1980s and 2013 some of JP fragrance have been reissued (redesigned and modernized).
Interesting note: At nearly that time stock market crash appeared, however this did not stop people from purchasing Joy, it was publicized as the "costliest perfume in the world".
Interesting note 2: In 1930 Jean Patou introduces first in the world concept of "perfume bar", where customers could add essential oils to one of three base perfumes and create b this way their own bespoke fragrance.
Interesting note 3: Karl Lagerfeld once said "...many of the things for which Chanel gets credit were actually developed by Jean Patou". The Impact Of Chanel; On Cable, a Reign Recalled at The Washington Post, 7/25/1989
7. Fragonard. Eugène Fuchs, an entrepreneur at heart with passionate dedication to the magic of perfume, opened Parfumerie Fragonard in 1926.
Interesting note: Eugène Fuchs chose to name it after the famous Grasse-born painter, Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), as a tribute to both the town of Grasse and to the refinement of 18th-century arts.
Interesting note 2: The door of an old perfume house are still open for travelers and visitors in Grasse, France. Where you can have a tour through Fragonard museum and witness world-class collection of copper perfume stills.
8. Le Galion. Would like to experience true vintage fragrant sorcery? Give a look at Le Gallion. Prince Murat, a descendant of Joachim Murat, brother in law of Napoleon 1st, and King of Naples, founded Le Galion Perfume House in 1930. First fragrances were: Chypre, Indian Summer, Champs de Mai, Il n’est qu’à moi, Fougère, 111 and 222. In 1930, Prince Murat, a descendant of Joachim Murat, brother in law of Napoleon 1st, and King of Naples, founded Le Galion Perfume House. Paul Vacher, famous perfumer within the industry at that time, purchased the brand in 1935. Sortilège, created in 1936, was an instant success when it was launched in Paris. The fragrance contained more than 80 natural essences and was one of the leading fragrances for the Perfume House. Launched after the war in the United States, at the prestigious ¨Stork Club¨ of New Yor
Interesting note: Sortilège contained more than 80 natural essences and was one of the leading fragrances for the Perfume House. Launched after the war in the United States, at the prestigious ¨Stork Club¨ of New York, it proved enormously successful and became The signature fragrance of the club. Soon after in 1937, came Bourrasque, and two beautiful floral scents, Iris and Tubéreuse, all produced from the finest, natural and raw materials.
Interesting note 2: Le Galion, French for galleon, is a large warship or trader sailing ship with 3 or more masts (lateen-rigged on the after masts and square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast), whose dominance of the seas during the 15th to 18th centuries resulted in what we recognize today in the brand's logo.
9. Lancome. Armanr Petitjean founded Lancome in the middle of 1930s. Lancôme originated as a perfume company, launching five fragrances in time for the 1935 World's Fair in Brussels, Belgium. The first fragrances from Lancôme in 1935 are womens' scents Tendre Nuit, Bocages, Conquete, Kypre and Tropiques.
Interesting note: The company's name was inspired by the ruins of a castle, Le Château de Lancosme, and the brand's rose symbol was inspired by the roses that surround it.
Interesting note 2: Perfume (symbolized by rose), Beauty Care (lotus flower), and Make up (cherub) are three originally represented cornerstones of Lancome.
Interesting note 3: All five Lancome fragrances won prizes at The Universal Exhibition in Brussels in 1935.
10. Nobile 1942. Umberto Nobile gave birth to the brand in 1942. On official web site it is mentioned that it was "a name that has always been synonymous with luxury fragrances". After that is a black hole in the brand history, only in 2008 the story of the brand was resurrected by Umberto's successor Massimo.
Interesting note: Massimo and Stefania Nobile, brand's successors are still applying, wherever is possible, the old techniques of maceration, steeping, filtration and distillation.
11. Robert Piguet. In 1933, having completed training at two of the most important fashion houses of the Twentieth century (Redfern and Poiret), Piguet opened his own house in the Rue de Cirque. There he became known for the delicacy and reserve of his morning and afternoon dresses. In the 1940s in collaboration with famed perfumer Germaine Cellier, Piquet created perfumes that suited his elegant and modern post-war fashions. The first scent, Bandit, a leathery chypre launched in 1944, was introduced in conjunction with Piguet's runway collection that featured women in masks, with toy guns and knives, evoking a "bad boy" image.
Interesting note: Pierre Balmain, Marc Bohan and Hubert de Givenchy all trained at the hands of this master as did Christian Dior who said “Robert Piguet taught me the virtues of simplicity through which true elegance must come.”
Interesting note 2: It is said that Robert Piguet's personal charm and aristocratic manner made him the toast of the wealthy elite as well as the arts and theatrical crowd.
12. Balmain. Perfumes have been offered by Pierre Alexandre Claudius Balmain since the 1940s, with the introduction of Elysées 64-83 (his phone number) in 1945. 1947's legendary scent Vent Vert, still in production today, was one of the best-sellers of the 1940s and 1950s. Balmain's Jolie Madame was iconic in its representation of the new post-war 1950s woman.
Interesting note: Balmain’s signature “Jolie Madame” style offered a startling contrast to the relaxed and utilitarian looks of the day – and its immediate popularity made clear that French women were eager to free themselves from the remaining vestiges of wartime hardship and embrace Balmain’s boldly feminine and opulent offering.
13. Nina Rici. Maria Nielli, was born in Turin (Nina Ricci combined her nickname with her husband’s last name), opened her Haute Couture house in 1932, at 20 Rue de Capucines in Paris, complete with the design atelier and salons for fittings. Her technique, cuts, balance and materials conferred striking simplicity on the Nina Ricci woman. In 1941, her son, Robert Ricci, created the Perfume department. Coeur Joie appeared in 1946. Its bottle initiated the house’s longstanding collaboration with the crystal maker Lalique, which in 1948 created the celebrated bottle for L’Air du Temps.
Interesting note: Romano Ricci, great grandson of Maria and grandson of Robert, produces fragrances under the brand Juliette Has a Gun.
14. Christian Dior. Dior opened his own house, the House of Dior, in 1946 and released his first collection in 1947, which featured the "New Look": soft, feminine designs in place of the harsh rationed clothes dictated by the austerity of war. The house of Dior issued perfumes to match its fashions, launching company Parfums Dior and its first fragrance in 1947: Miss Dior, named for the designer's sister Catherine.
15. Carthusia. In 1948, the prior of the Monastery discovered the old formulas of the perfumes (see Interesting note below) and, with by permission from the Pope, revealed them to a chemist from Turin, who created the smallest laboratory in the world and called it “Carthusia”, i.e. Certosa.
Interesting note: All Carthusia fragrances have a hidden yet indivisible bond with Capri. The feelings and moods inherent in Carthusia products are the result of zealous and professional research into components derived exclusively from Capri's environment.
Interesting note 2: .... recounts that in 1380, the father prior of the Carthusian Monastery of St. James, caught unawares by the news of the arrival of Queen Joan of Anjou on Capri, picked a boquet of the most beautiful flowers of the island; these remained in the same water for three days and, as he went to throw them away, the prior noticed that it had acquired a mysterious fragrance unknown to him. So he turned to the friar versed in alchemy, who traced the origin of the scent to the "Garofilium Silvestre Caprese". That water was the first perfume of Capri.
16. Hermes. Hermès is a French luxury goods house founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermes. Originally focused on equestrian accessories. For Hermès, the perfume adventure begins in 1951 with Eau d’Hermès, composed by Edmond Roudnitska, one of the greatest creative spirits in the world of fragrances.
17. Estee Lauder. Josephine Esther Mentzer, born in the New York suburb of Queens, began her business with four skincare products and a simple promise: that every woman can be beautiful. ‘Estée’ was a play on her nickname, Esty, and after she married Joseph Lauder, she became Estee Lauder. Estée Lauder Companies Inc. was founded in 1946 by Joseph and Estée Lauder. Ms. Lauder gained early experience in the skincare and cosmetics industry under the tutelage of her uncle, a chemist and skin care specialist. In 1953, the company introduced its first fragrance, Youth Dew, in the form of a bath oil that doubled as a perfume.
Interesting note: Estee was among those first who invented the ‘gift-with-purchase’.
Interesting note 2: Estée Lauder was honoured with so many awards during her career – The American Society of Perfumers gave her its first Living Legend Award, in 1994 – but one of the high points of her life is said to have been receiving the French Legion of Honour.
18. Yves Saint Laurent. In 1962, Saint Laurent set up his own fashion house with Pierre Bergé and continued to rock the establishment. The house's first fragrance, Y for women, was launched in 1964. Y and several other launches by YSL, including Rive Gauche (1970), Opium (1977), men's scent Kourous (1981), and Paris (1983) have become modern classics of the perfume world and remain best-sellers.
Interesting note: At the final of the 1998 World Cup, near Paris, 300 models presented a retrospective of YSL creations, to celebrate the designer's forty years in fashion, in front of 80,000 football fans and more than 170 international sports channels.
19. The Cotswold Perfumery. Cotswold Perfumery was established in 1966 and specialises in Fine Fragrances for the niche market. John Stephen is the perfumer and owner of the Cotswold Perfumery.
Interesting note: The Company is based in a magnificent 300-year old Grade II Listed building where oak beams and crooked floors are the norm.
Interesting note 2: In 1992 the Cotswold Perfumery was proud to announce that Buckingham Palace had selected “Pallas” over all the competition - a beautiful Jasmin perfume.
20. Diptyque. Christiane Gautrot, an interior designer, Desmond Knox-Leet, a painter, and Yves Coueslant, a theater director and set designer opened a store in Paris, on 34 boulevard Saint-Germain in 1961. In 1968, diptyque composed its first eau de toilette, L’Eau, inspired by a 16th-century potpourri recipe and the scent of pomanders.
Interesting note: The oval labels echo the shape of an 18th-century medallion, a pattern found on the Prétorien fabric designed by Desmond Knox-Leet in 1963: The broad oval pattern suggests the shields of ancient Rome. It is an emblematic shape, perpetually reinvented and found on all products made by diptyque.
21. Givenchy. Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, French aristocrat and fashion designer, founded The House of Givenchy in 1952. He is famous for having designed much of the personal and professional wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn, as well as clothing for clients such as Jacqueline Kennedy. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970. Monsieur de Givenchy founded Les Parfums Givenchy in 1957.
Interesting note: In 1958, Hubert de Givenchy asked his friend Audrey Hepburn to be the face of his parfume, L’Interdit. He created a revolution in using, for the first time, a movie star on an advertising campaign.
22. Crabtree & Evelyn. Crabtree & Evelyn was founded in 1972 by Cyrus Harvey. The name Crabtree & Evelyn was inspired by John Evelyn, a 17th century botanist, and the English Crabapple tree, known for its beauty and use in home apothecary. Initially a small, family run business, the first store specialised in fine soaps sourced from around the world.
23. L'artisan Parfumeur. French niche perfume house, established in 1976 by Jean Laporte as an exercise in casual alchemy, an unlikely banana eau de toilette that Laporte made for a party at Paris’s Folies Bergère cabaret awakened a knack for developing highly original fragrances. He later left the company to form rival Maître Parfumeur et Gantier.
24. Laura Biagiotti. Laura Biagiotti is an Italian fashion designer affectionately known as the "Queen of Cashmere." In 1965, Laura began her own clothing company, Biagiotti Group that was established in Rome by Delia Soldaini Biagiotti, with partner Gianni Cigna, her future husband. The company's first fragrance, Fiori Bianchi, was introduced in 1982.
Interesting note: In 1982 Mrs. Gromyko, the wife of Russia’s Foreign Minister, was welcomed to Castello Marco Simone to see a Laura Biagiotti fashion show. The New York Times published a photo of the event on its first page with the title “East and West meet on the Laura Biagiotti catwalk”.
Interesting note 2: A unique event in the history of fashion occurred on April 25, 1988 in Beijing when30 Chinese models wore the most significant creations of Laura Biagiotti’s career, making Laura the first Italian designer to present a fashion show in China.
Interesting note 3: “Biagiotti Day” was established in Rome in 2004 with special events dedicated to the brand and motivated by Laura’s great love of the Eternal City and her appreciation of its culture.
25. Tiziana Terenzi. Tiziana Terenzi is a company founded in 1968 by Guglielmo Terenzi and Luigia Mancini in Terenzi that encompasses three generations of perfuming and candle making expertise. Evelino Terenzi is considered the "soul of the company", and his children Tiziana and Paolo are the Designer and Perfumer, respectively. In spite of long history the earliest fragrance was launched only in 2012.
Interesting note: The surname derives from Tres enses (three swords), and fades back in time into the cradle of civilisation.
P.S. There are might be some brands that are omitted in this study even if they suit to the Category. I would truly highly appreciate if you share with me what you know has certainly been missed and deserve to be mentioned.