Part 2. Oldest fragrance brands. 100+ years

This is continuation of the study about History of the brands with history. Category 2: Late 19th and beginning of 20th century, over 100 years history.

You can find the beginning by following the link:

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.

Below numeration is based on the time of foundation of the company:

1. Guerlain. Almost two centuries ago, in 1828, legendary French perfume house was founded by Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain. Pierre-François opened the very first Guerlain shop on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris that year, selling vinegars, scented soaps and cosmetic products (including the gloriously-named liquid ‘Bloom of Roses’, for lips). The first of a dynasty of perfumers, Pierre-François began creating custom fragrances for high society Parisians – and by 1840 had opened a ‘flagship store’ on the glamorous Rue de la Paix. His son Aimé Guerlain (Jicky) continued family art after Pierre-François died in 1864. Jacques Guerlain (Mitsouko and Shalimar) took over from his uncle Aimé in 1890 – which marked the start of a hugely exciting time for the house. Then after Jacques died, in 1963, it was his grandson Jean-Paul Guerlain, who unstoppably continued family business. Nowadays you can find Guerlain products in major Department stores albeit the very spirit of the brand lives in its flagship store at 68 Champs-Elysées, in Paris.

Interesting note: One of first celebrities of that time who used Guerlain products were Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugénie, Queen Victoria, and Queen Isabella II of Spain, among other crowned heads.

Interesting note 2: Guerlain remains one of a handful of fragrance houses which controls their natural ingredients ‘from field to flacon’. French vanilla or ylang-ylang from their own plantations in Comoro Islands, Bergamot is specially grown by farmers in Calabria, Vetiver in Tamil Nadu, Roses in Bulgaria, as well as Tunisian orange blossom and Petitgrain. Two Jasmines – with quite different facets – are sourced: Jasmine sambac, and Grasse jasmine. The motto endures: ‘Never compromise on quality’.

Interesting note 3: So-called "Guerlinade"—the Guerlain signature base notes used for creation of multiple Guerlain perfumes.

Some information taken from:

2. Grossmith. J.Gorssmith & son Ltd., one of England’s oldest perfume houses, was founded in the City (London's business centre) in 1835 by John Grossmith, but it was his son, John Lipscomb Grossmith who developed the firm into a brand with commercial cachet involved not only in parfumerie alcoholique, but also in soaps, powders, toilet preparations and a hundred other scented productsIn 1888 company launched its first fragrance Hasu-no-Hana. Grossmith was family run for three generations (until 1924) but by 1970 it changed hands and trading came to a sudden halt in 1980. The great great grandson of the founder, Simon Brooke, bought the company back into family ownership.


Interesting note: Grossmith was the only English company to be awarded a prize medal at the Great Exhibition in 1851 for perfumes and essential oils.

Interesting note 2: The limited edition Baccarat flacons, individually numbered and etched in pure gold, were created in close partnership with Baccarat factory. Among them are the three of the classic fragrances: Hasu-No Hana (1888), Phul-Nana (1891) and Shem-el-Nessim (1906).

Interesting note 3: A prize medal for perfumery wasn't far behind: The 1851 Great Exhibition saw Grossmith the only British company to land one. Royal warrants followed suit: Queen Alexandra (consort of Kind Edward VII) as well as members of the Royal Courts of Greece and of Spain awarded Grossmith with this mark of recognition (The seal requires at least 5 years of supplying goods or services). The gesture of offering a custom-made fragrance for the wedding of Princess May of Teck and Printe George of Wales (they're best known as King George V and Queen Mary, grandparents of Elizabeth II) is aptly fit for romantic daydreaming.


3. Molinard. Albert Sittler, founder of parfumes Molinard, started his truly renown company in 1849 in Grasse. In 1921 Molinard created two innovative and revolutionary products: uber-legendary and supremely sophisticated of all-times perfume Habanita and "Concréta", the world's first solid perfume compacts, which incorporated natural flower wax as a fragrance component. In 1860, Molinard gained attention with two new perfumes—"Jasmin" and " Rose." Both were introduced in elegant crystal bottles designed and produced by Baccarat.

Interesting note: It is believed that the Queen Victoria to be a devotee of Molinard Eaux de Cologne.

Interesting note 2: In 1900, Molinard expanded with the purchase of an old perfume factory whose structure had been designed by Gustave Eiffel.

Interesting note 3: In 1930, Molinard hired famous master glassmaker René Lalique, who created and signed for Molinard the stunningly beautiful bottles for Iles d'Or and Madrigal in 1930 and Le Baiser du Faune in 1932.

4. Aqua di Genova. Acqua di Genova was created in 1853 for the Royal House of Savoy by the famous Genoese distiller and perfumer Stefano Frecceri. This fragrance quickly became an indispensable part of the morning toilet of every important personality of the time. Acqua di Genova became a great favourite with all the royal families of Europe. Illustrious society figures of the time such as Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour and Constantino Nigro, former Secretary of State didn’t hide the fact that they used the fragrance to enrich and add the final touch to their appearance.

Interesting note: King Vittorio Emanuele II was so impressed with Acqua di Genova that he expressed his appreciation of Stefano Frecceri and Colonia Acqua di Genova on the 28 March 1866 by royal decree and appointed him as official purveyor to the court. In particular, the fresh, valuable and classic touch of the fragrance was the reason why Virginia Oldoini, the Contessa di Castiglione, then hailed as one of the most beautiful women of Europe fell in love with the fragrance. The aristocrat was known for her charm, her sense of style and her beauty and was a role model for many men and women at the time. She soon became the favorite at the French court of Napoleon III. Her charm and charisma was so great that the women at the French court began to imitate her and even adopted the Contessa's favorite fragrance, Acqua di Genova.

Interesting note 2: Aqua di Genova's Eau de Cologne which, after over 150 years, preserves unchanged its characteristics and keeps the original packing with hand-made bottles, crafted one by one still today.

Interesting note 3: Aqua di Genova was awarded 24 golden medals at the following exhibitions: London 1862, Paris 1878, Vienna 1873, Australia 1879, Bari 1892, Florence 1861, Genoa 1855, 1858, 1879, 1884, 1892, 1914, Lyon 1880, Nice 1872, Melbourne 1888, Milan 1881, 1891, Naples 1873, Palermo 1891, Perugia 1898, Toulon 1898, Turin 1884, 1894. Moreover it was conferred an Honour Diploma, Royal Jewel and in 1974 the Golden Plate of New York.


Source 2:

5. J.F. Schwarzlose & Sohne. In 1856 opens the drugstore J.F. Schwarzlose Söhne for his children. In 1870 they are acclaimed Purveyor to the Royal Court. Max and Franz leave the main business and concentrate on creating their own fragrance brands. In 1895 J.F. Schwarzlose Söhne took over the distinguished fragrance manufacturer Treu & Nuglisch, which was founded in the 1820s and had been a purveyor to the Court, thus giving the company a good reputation among imperial and royal personages. Famous fragrances were floral scents Rosa Centifolia and Hymen, German bouquet-fantasy Royalin, or masculine cologne Finale. Between the First and Second World Wars leather fragrances Juchten and IA-33 were popular throughout Germany and even in Europe. Brand was declared defunct in 1976, but in 2012 revived again.

6. Roger & Gallet. Roger & Gallet, Armand Roger & Charles Gallet literally inherited that (see Interesting note) original eau de Cologne formula. By chance, they were married to two sisters – heirs to an uncle who had bought the historic ‘Jean-Marie Farina’ perfume house on Paris’s Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Company has also collaboration with Baccarat glass. In 1923 - 'The Jade': an artistic collaboration with revolutionary artist René Lalique. Both admired and seen as eccentric, René Lalique's designs became a huge craze in the European courts as well as artistic and industrial circles worldwide. A master glassmaker, he created sublime and precious bottles for Roger&Gallet's fragrances.


Interesting note: In 1806 Jean-Marie Farina, heir to the precious ‘apothecary formula’ for ‘Acqua Mirabilis’ – and official supplier of fragrances to Napoleon I – created his own ‘Eau de Cologne’. That’s a name you’ll still see today – as refreshing as it ever was, and just one of a delicious, sense-awakening collection of fragrances which we can now enjoy from Roger&Gallet.


Interesting note 2: The extraordinary tonic Aqua Mirabilis, was developed at the end of the 13th century. It was manufactured by distilling 18 officinal plants, all grown in Jardins des Simples, or herb gardens. Aqua Mirabilis was a remedy that could be drunk and applied to the body.

7. Penhaligon's. Penhaligon's is a British perfumery established in 1870 by a young Cornish-born man named William Henry Penhaligon. Started as a barbershop Penhaligon's introduces its first fragrance Hammam Bouquet in 1872 ( inspired by the neighboring Turkish Bath and its sulfurous steam). The company's best-selling fragrance, Blenheim Bouquet was offered in 1902, created at the request of the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace, still after 115 years remain one of the company best-seller.

Interesting note: In 1956, Penhaligon's was granted a Royal Warrant by the Duke of Edinburgh for the manufacturing of toiletries. The company was granted a second Royal Warrant in 1988, by the Princess of Wales.

8. Aqua di Biella. Acqua di Biella is an Italian niche fragrance brand, established in 1871. in Biella, but the story starts in 1865, when Luigi Cantono, founder of the brand, goes to Germany to study chemistry. After 6 years, in 1871, Luigi opened his factory in the historical building in XX Settembre street in Biella, and started with production of a fragrant cologne that he called Acqua di Biella. Lately, apart from colognes there also were produced bear fat, castor oil, “flowers of Italy” and violet ointments, analgesic paste, toothpastes, brilliantines, soaps, rose juice lip creams, face-powders, scented candles, etc.


Interesting note: In 1878 the Reale Manifattura Luigi Cantono is granted the Savoia coat of arms as official supplier of the Savoia Royal Household. In 1880 Acqua di Biella starts to become well-known and appreciated all over the world. It is awarded prizes and medals, among them a first class gold medal at the international perfumery exhibition held in Melbourne, Australia in 1880, a gold medal in Milan in 1881, an Diploma of Honour in Biella in 1882 and a gold medal at the Turin exhibition of 1884.

9. The Crown Perfumery Co. 1872 (nowadays Clive Christian). The Crown Perfumery Co. was one of Britain's foremost perfume houses. Crown Perfumery was founded in 1872 in London by William S. (Sparks) Thompson, an American industrialist from Connecticut. Catering to the high society in London and Europe, he launched a collection of floral fragrances called Flower Fairies. Queen Victoria granted the Crown Perfumery her own crown's image to top the fragrance bottles. By the end of the century, Crown Perfumery was exporting nearly 50 different perfumes and accompanying products to countries all over the world. Mrs. Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, was the inspiration for the creation of 'Crown Bouquet'. In 1999 the luxury brand Clive Christian revived Crown fragrances.


Interesting note: The Crown Perfumery Company collection consists of eight fragrances: 4 for ladies and 4 for gentlemen, that are all based on original compositions, once inspired by or created for famous personalities, including King Edward VII, the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Laurence of Arabia and many more. We now have the rare Crown fragrances in stock as well, please see list below.

10. Lentheric. Lentheric is an old company which was established in 1795 as a millinery. In the 19th century, fashion accessories were added to the store. However the foundation of the company is considered to be 1873, when perfumes were being informally blended in the store for sale. Guillaume Louis Lentheric, a hairdresser, established the perfume-cosmetics company La Parfumerie des Orchidees in 1885. Guillaume Lentheric exclusively distilled and dispensed the rarest perfumes in France for the loveliest ladies of the courts and aristocracy in Europe. In 1947 Lenthéric, Inc., experienced a decline in earnings due to higher wages, advertising expenses, and vast returns of merchandise from retail stores, which trimmed inventories. In 1951 the company hoped to increase sales by introducing a new line of makeup called Sheer Beauty. It sold for less than $5. The firm also reduced the price of Debo deodorant from $1.35 to $1.00. This was accomplished by making the product in a plastic squeeze bottle rather than a glass bottle with atomizer.


11. Avon. David H. McConnel was first a struggling door-to-door salesman who used to sell books to New York homes. In September 1886, he decided to sell perfumes rather than books and he then started the business in a small office at 126 Chambers Street, in lower Manhattan, New York City. In 1892, McConnell changed the company name when his business partner Alexander D. Henderson suggested that he call the business the California Perfume Company, because of the great abundance of flowers in California. The first products to bear an Avon brand name were launched in 1928. The California Perfume Company filed for its first "Avon" trademark on a beauty product in 1932, and officially changed its name to Avon in 1939.

12. Casamorati. La Fabbrica di Profumi C.Casamorati was established in 1888 and specialised in many fine fragrances including “Profumeria Fina alla Violetta Ideale” – “Fine Perfumery with Ideal Violette” - and various sophisticated bath soaps. Over the years Casamorati received numerous awards and precious rewards from major national and international exhibitions. Sergio Momo, founder of Xerjoff, continued luxury and aristocratic traditions of the house of Casamorati. It took over 18 months researching and distilling experiments before re-establishing the bygone times of the adored Casamorati establishment founded in Bologna in the 19th century.

Interesting note: Signor Casamorati was creating diverse delicate bath soaps that caught the attention of Her Majesty Queen Margherita (1851-1926). During a visit to one of the national exhibitions, Her Highness was so impressed by the quality of the soaps that she was using every morning, that even in the absence of an official recognition, she took off a gold breast pin and donated it to the perfumer in sign of her gratitude and deep respect.

13. Gandini. Gandini Profumi of Alessandria is an old Italian perfumery house, founded in 1896 by Alessandro Gandini. The company imported natural raw materials from France, Bulgaria and Africa. In 2009, Gandini re-launched their old formulas, while respecting the traditional art of perfumery. Those perfumes are: Violetta di Provenza, Capriccio, Iris Bleu, Notte a Capri, Vele al Vento, Applauso, Lavanda Alpi and Taiga. In 2010, they presented a collection of colognes that can be combined with each other, called Gandini 1896 Maestri Profumieri.


14. Caron. Parfums Caron is a legendary French perfume house founded by Ernest Daltroff in 1904. With no formal training as a perfumer, but with a love for perfume instilled by his mother and a very talented nose, Daltroff set about creating what would go on to be one of the most enduring and beloved perfumes houses in the history of the fragrance industry. The story of Parfums Caron is a story of secret love. Daltroff hired a former dressmaker, Felicie Wanpouille, to be the company's artistic adviser. Wanpouille oversaw the company's bottle design and packaging, and played an integral part in the company's success. Wanpouille was Daltroff's muse, and Daltroff was rumored to be smitten with her but never formally declared his love for her. The pair's great success and tremendous ambition, as well as the emotional undercurrents in their personal and professional relationship, resulted in some of the 20th century's most innovative and beloved perfumes. Today, Caron is one of the great Paris houses that still devoted exclusively to fragrances.

Intersting note: Narcisse Noir (1911) was the first scent from the house to gain notoriety. This iconic fragrance was later immortalized in the film "Sunset Boulevard", cradled in the hands of screen siren Gloria Swanson. N'Aimez Que Moi ("Love No One But Me") is said by some to be a secret expression of affection between Daltroff and Wanpouille. (It's 1916 release also made it appropriate for soldiers to give their sweethearts as a forget-me-not.)

Interesting note 2: Many are not as familiar with the other great product of this perfume house, a finely-milled luxury face powder, first introduced in the 1930s and still available today. The powder's manufacturing process is a closely-guarded secret.

Intersting note 3: Tabac Blond, fragrance launched in 1919, truly ground-breaking, designed for the ‘new generation’ woman, who wasn’t scared to flaunt convention, light a cigarette in public.


15. Coty. Coty, Inc. is a beauty brand founded François Coty in 1904. Born Joseph Marie François Spoturno, a native of Corsica, he moved to Paris and adopted the more French-sounding name of François Coty. Originally his name was "Spoturno". It is suggested that his assumed name "Coty" resulted from a consultation with his mentor, Emmanuel Arène. Coty sounded Arène out about his possibilities for launching his own perfume company. Arène, it is said, asked what name he planned to use and Coty replied that he would use his own name, "Spoturno". Arène told him the business would fail. Coty, it is said, then suggested that he might use his mother's family name, "Coti". Arène now indicated that, while it was an improvement, a name ending with "i" was not a good idea, so afterwards it was changed on "Coty". Coty's first fragrance, La Rose Jaqueminot, was introduced in 1904, and made Coty a millionaire. La Rose Jacqueminot was packaged in a beautiful Baccarat bottle. Coty recognized the importance of offering a beautiful, luxurious product such as perfume in an equally beautiful and luxurious package. Coty partnered with ceramic artist and jeweler Rene Lalique, who designed ornate bottles and gilded labels, in the Art Nouveau style, for early Coty creations such as L'Origan.

Intersting note: A renown quote by Monsieur Coty: "Give a woman the best product to be made, market it in the perfect flask, beautiful in its simplicity yet impeccable in its taste, ask a reasonable price for it, and you will witness the birth of a business the size of which the world has never seen."

Intersting note 2: A notable Coty creation which spawned an entire fragrance family was 1917's Chypre, the French name for the island of Cyprus. Chypre's innovative blend of oakmoss, labdanum and bergamot was one of his best-selling scents.


Interesting note 3: One day Coty had been attempting to demonstrate "La Rose Jacqueminot" to a buyer for the Grands Magasins du Louvres. The buyer, it is said, showed Coty the door without giving Coty a chance to open his bottle and demonstrate his perfume. Coty, either in a fit of absolute frustration — or in a well planned sales promotion — smashed the bottle of "La Rose Jacqueminot" on the counter (or perhaps the floor — Baccarat bottles don't break that easily!) The store was immediately filled with the aroma of Coty's new perfume and the rest is history.

Women now rushed to Coty's side. Did he have more? Where could they buy a bottle? What was this wonderful new fragrance?

The store reconsidered. A messenger was sent to Coty's address with an order for twelve bottles — 12 bottles! — for delivery next day. Coty's success rocket had just been ignited.


16. D'Orsay. The Compagnie Francaise des Parfums d'Orsay was founded in 1908 by well organized investor group made up of Siegfried and Sally Berg, Leo Fink, and M. Van Dyck., with the goal to preserve the Count's (see Interesting note 2) perfume heritage and develop an aristocratic luxury perfume house on its basis.

Parfums D'Orsay was revived in 2007 by Marie Huet, young deeply inspired by both mythical house and its fragrances. Etiquette Bleue, Belle de jour, Bonjour, Divine, Intoxication, Le Dandy, Leurs âmes, Poésie, Tilleul, Voulez-Vous, Arôme 3, Chevalier d’Orsay are names of some of the oldest D'Orsay creations.

Interesting note: Parfums D'Orsay produced all their packaging and perfumes. In 1925, D'Orsay was awarded the Grand Prix at the exhibition in Paris. Several bottles were manufactured by Baccarat and Daum Nancy, such as the bottles for Toujours Fidele and Le Dandy.

Interesting note 2: Dandy Alfred d’Orsay. Son to a count and a baroness, this elegant figure lived between London and Paris. He was a frequent guest to the elite of his time: Lawrence, Napoleon III, Dickens, Vigny, Doré up to Lamartine. The latter enjoyed calling Alfred “l’archange du dandysme” (the Dandyism’s archangel) due to his excellent taste and his eye for details. After he met Marguerite he fell deeply in love with her at first sight. Due to some obstacles (she was wife to another man) their love story could not be continued, and Alfred decided to express his feelings through a new talent, the creation of fragrances. Hence he imagined a beautiful and above all truly original perfume for Marguerite, the perfume with an “Etiquette Bleue” (Blue Etiquette), in 1830.

17. Les Parfums des Rosine. In 1911, fashion designer Paul Poiret set up two companies, one for each of his daughters. For Martine, the youngest, he established Les Ateliers de Martine. For Rosine, the eldest, he established Parfums de Rosine. Both enterprises flourished and enjoyed great popularity until Poiret fell victim to the stock market crash of 1929. Marie-Hélène Rogeon has revived the house in 1991. Marie-Hélène was born into a family of perfumer, her great-grandparent worked with Paul Poiret. Her fascination with perfumes and perfume bottles started when she was a young girl. At some point in her life she realized the importance of perfumes in her life and, tired of mainstream and designer offerings, Marie-Hélène decided to re-open the house Les Parfums de Rosine in order to create original, unique and beautiful compositions made from natural essences.

18. Alvarez Gomez. It all started when three boys (Herminio Alvarez Gómez, Belarmino Gómez and Emilio Vuelta Gómez) natives from León, Northern Province of Spain, decided to abandon their home and move to Madrid, in search of fortune.

They were first cousins and started their activity together in a drugstore of a relative, located on Peligros street in Madrid. After a while, the owner of the store decided to retire and sell the store, circumstance and opportunity that the cousins took advantage of by buying it, a very important step for their future. In 1899, they moved to a new store in 2 Sevilla Street in Madrid. That was when, for the first time "Alvarez Gomez"appeared as the sign of the store. They choose the two second names of Herminio, because he was the one who had made a biggest investment. In 1912, they received a formula for an "Eau de Cologne" from center-European origin, whose essential elements: Lemon, bergamot, rosemary, geranium, etc, could be found of much better quality in Spain. The founders, who were used to handle pure scents from the country since their childhood, decided that their cologne had to be like this: Clean, fresh and pure. In 1912 they started manufacturing in a traditional way, in the basement of the store, the "Agua de Colonia Concentrada Alvarez Gómez", as we know it nowadays.

Today a fourth generation direct from that moment, 100 years past, are involved in the project of keep the brand updated.

19. Aqua di Parma. The rich history of this perfume house goes back to 1916, to Parma – a city famous for its violets, and a town rooted in cultural tradition. The first fragrance was created in 1916, Colonia, and at the beginning it was used to perfume gentlemen's handkerchiefs. Colonia became a real symbol of Italian chic among American and European celebrities in the pre-war (1930's) and post-war (1950's) years. Cary Grant and David Niven, Ava Gadner and Eva Turner, later joined by Audrey Hepburn, were among the passionate admirers of Colonia. From a small factory, Acqua di Parma grew into a prominent house with wide range distribution.

Interesting note: This fascinating Italian brand recently became involved with famous Italian institution: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, in Venice, partnering with them to sponsor this world-class contemporary collection, the legacy of one woman’s passion for art.

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