Part 3. Oldest fragrance brands. 200+ years

This is the final part of the research, where the oldest fragrance brands are selected. The oldest brand goes back to 1533 and the youngest among oldest was established in 1810.

Please find links on Part 1 and Part of the research:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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. Santa Maria Novella. Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. Founded by Dominican Friars shortly after 1221, the year of their arrival in Florence, the pharmacy used medicinal herbs grown in the monastic gardens to make medications, balms and pomades for the monks' infirmary. In 1533, Santa Maria Novella’s fame exploded when they were commissioned to create a signature fragrance for the young, fourteen-year old Catherine de Medici upon her marriage to Henry II of France. Though word of their renowned remedies had spread world-wide, it wasn’t until 400 years later in 1612, that Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella opened its doors to the public – long after it already secured a place in the history books. Though no longer under direct monistic direction, the Officina is still run by their descendants (a nephew of the last monistic director purchased the company in the late 19th century, and four generations of his family have been at the helm ever since). Ruthless devotion to original, centuries-old recipes and production methods, combined with modern technology and innovation, Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is something extraordinary; its treasures a much needed indulgence in a world where five minutes is long enough to declare something “out”.

Interesting note: Known as "Acqua della Regina" or "Water of the Queen", the resulting citrus-based cologne water of Calabrian bergamot could be interpreted as being the world’s first celebrity fragrance. It served to popularise the concept of perfume to the French royal court.

Interesting note 2: The impact of "Water of the Queen" did not stop there. When a young perfumer, Giovanni Paolo Feminis, moved to Cologne, Germany in 1725, he took the scent with him and re-produced it to great acclaim. It was named Eau de Cologne in honour of the city, thus heralding the birth of the perfume concentration known today. The original Acqua della Regina scent is still made today by Santa Maria Novella and really deserves the true credit for creating “eau de cologne.”

Interesting note 3: The original monastery infirmary and pharmacy used to be in the rooms adjoining today’s shop, and you can ask to visit them, preferably when there are not too many customers in the pharmacy. Here in the Sala Verde, or Green Room, and in the blue-and-gilt pharmacy, the clock stopped 400 years ago and the glass retorts, pestles, scales and measures once used by the monks are still in their cabinets, as well as bottles designed by Leonardo da Vinci. The pharmacy opens onto what used to be the cloister, now the parade ground of the local carabinieri detachment.


2.Parfums du Chateau de Versailles. Parfums du Château de Versailles is a French fragrance house whose perfumes are unique for having actually been recovered from the Versailles Palace archives, buried in formularies written by 17th and 18Ith centuries Royal Perfumers. They are the warm and sensual scents that Kings and Queens of France enjoyed in their youth and during their reigns at the Château de Versailles.

The Château de Versailles perfumes have been re-created near Grasse (France), the historical French capital of fragrances, thanks to the work of the French perfumers of Conservatoire Français des Fragrances et Cosmétiques.


3. Johan Maria Farina. Giovanni Maria Farina an Italian perfume maker (German: Johann Maria Farina), settled in Cologne, Germany, in the year 1709 where he founded Farina gegenüber, the world’s oldest perfume factory still in existence. The company's logo is a red tulip. The French name "Jean Marie Farina vis à vis de la place Juliers" and the short form "Farina gegenüber" were also commonly used over a long period of time. His subtle fragrance Eau de Cologne became rapidly famous worldwide and in the 18th century was an indispensable accessory at all royal courts. The perfume maker chose to call his perfume after his new home town so as to honour it. Indeed, at the time when Farina first moved to Cologne, there were very strict laws regarding foreign settlers. Farina was granted citizenship and, in order to show off his gratitude, he named his very first creation Eau de Cologne (lit. French: "Water of Cologne"). This perfume, being a real sensation at the time, contributed to Cologne’s global fame. Being the very first perfume of its kind on the market, the word "Cologne" quickly became a brand name. The company is still run by the founder’s descendants, who are the eighth generation of family members. The company has held royal warrants as purveyors of perfume to the German, French, Italian and British Royal Families. The company headquarters and birthplace of eau de Cologne are both to be found in Farina House in Cologne, Germany, where the Farina Fragrance Museum is also located.

Interesting note: Cologne refers to a perfume which is usually refreshingly light, unisex with a citrus-based head note. The explanation as to why the perfume was given a French name is rather simple: In the 17th and 18th century, the French languagewas spoken in European high society and also used by tradesmen, which explains Farina's name decision. Counterfeits of the perfume only appeared at the end of the 18th century. After the French Revolution, Napoleon's troops occupied Cologne for a number of years and introduced freedom of trade. Back then, registered trademarks did not exist, which explains why there were so many counterfeits.

Interesting note 2: 'I have discovered a scent that reminds me of a spring morning in Italy, of mountain narcissus, orange blossom just after the rain. It gives me great refreshment, strengthens my senses and imagination', wrote Giovanni Maria Farina in 1708 in a letter to his brother. The delicate fragrance reveals the finest citrues notes. The first whiff provides refreshing bergamot followed by tender jasmine and violet, smoothed down by warm sandalwood and olibanum. Farina Eau de Cologne Originale is elegant and never obtrusive, a timeless perfume for both men and women. Only premium-quality essences are used for the composition of this unique fragrance.

Interesting note 3: In the 17th century the tulip was a precious item that bloomed in the gardens of Turkish palaces. The Dutch paid huge amounts of money for a bulb of this beautiful flower. Farina, who desired an image of great beauty for his tra- demark and his products, chose a red tulip for the original perfume.


4. Oriza L.Legrand. House Oriza L. Legrand was, in the XIX century, the provisioner of the royal courts of France, England, Italy and Russia.

For example, for the Russian imperial court were created Aux Violettes du Czar (1862), Violettes du Czar pour le Mouchoir (1896, on the photo), Doubles Violettes du Czar (1900) and Parfum de l'Aigle Russe (1907).

The name of the perfume House is the combination of two names: Maison Oriza and L. Legrand. Maison Oriza was founded by the famous royal perfumer Jean-Louis Fargeon in 1720. The name Oriza is a game of words “or” (gold) and “riz” (rice). The last means the rice powder for wigs and makeup. Louis Legrand bought it in 1811 from the heirs of the famous perfumer along with archives of perfumes and cosmetics and opened his shop on the Rue Saint-Honore. Half a century later, in 1860, he gave it to his more young and active partner Antonin Raynaud.

Under the guidance of Antonin Raynaud in 1879 the company released the world's first perfume line, Parfumerie Oriza, in which each perfume were accompanied with cosmetic products with the same name and design of package. Nowadays such step it is obvious to marketers, but in 1879 Raynaud was a pioneer ahead , Houbigant, Lubin and others. The success of this line has led Reynaud to the idea to assign to the company name Oriza L. Legrand. In 1887 the company Oriza L. Legrand patented and produced the world's first solid perfume (Essence Oriza Solidifiee). Whole manufacture, from the distillation and maceration of perfume ingredients to labeling, from soap making to grinding rice for powder, was concentrated at a factory in Levallois-Perret.

In spring 1890, when almost in every arrondissement in Paris was perfume market, where it was possible to buy fine perfumes cheaper, company Oriza L. Legrand launches new luxury store on Place de la Madeleine, showing its course to true luxury.

Company Oriza L. Legrand has successfully participated in international exhibitions and has been regularly awarded with prizes and medals, from the bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris (1867) to the Grand Prix there in 1900.

From the mid XIX century the company collaborates with crystal makers of Baccarat, which created not only perfume bottles for royalty, but also a few genuine masterpieces from crystal.

Following the fashion trends of the time, the company has created few violet fragrances (see above), amber fragrances Fin Comme l'Ambre (1913) and L `Ambre (1920), chypre fragrance Chypre Mousse (1920) and oriental fragrances Kadidja (1920) and Venise (1925).


5. Floris of London. Floris is a London-based perfumery house that has been in operation since 1730 and continues to be run by descendants of the founders. Originally founded by Juan Famenius Floris and his wife, Elizabeth, Floris sold grooming and shaving products as well as perfumes from their 89 Jermyn Street location. They received a Royal Warrant in 1820 as "Smooth Pointed Comb Maker" to King George IV. Royalty, historical figures and celebrities have long been customers of Floris, whose famed clientele includes Florence Nightengale, Winston Churchill, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and actress Marilyn Monroe.

In 1878, Mary Anne (Floris) Bodenham and husband James took over the business from Mary Anne' brother, Joseph Floris. Bodenham and Floris family descendants still operate the company today. Production and sales continued at the 89 Jermyn Street location until 1989, when a factory was opened in Devon. The Jermyn Street location continues to be the company's headquarters and flagship store.

Floris today offers fragrances in four collections: Men's fragrances, Women's fragrances, the Classic collection and the Private collection. Floris continues to offer fragrances that have been in its collection from its earliest days, such as Classic scents Limes (1832) and Stephanotis (1786), as well as newer scents that suit modern sensibilities, such as Sirena (2011). The company also offers bath and body care products to accompany its fragrances, as well as candles and home fragrances. Floris also creates bespoke perfumes, giving customers the opportunity to customize an existing Floris scent.


6. Galimard. Jean de Galimard lived in Grasse in 1747 where he created Parfumerie Galimard. Founder of the corporation of Glovemakers and Perfumers, Jean supplied the court of Louis, the well-beloved, King of France, with olive oil, pomades and perfumes from which he developed the first formulas. Since perfume was used to scent the fashionable gloves, the industries literally grew together hand in hand.

Jean de Galimard was Lord of Seranon and related to the Count of Thorenc. For over 266 years, Parfumerie Galimard has been following the same traditions as its renowned founder and currently uses the very processes which made its name famous.

7. Caswell-Massey. Founded in 1752 in Newport, Rhode Island, Caswell-Massey is America’s original apothecary and perfumery, long considered one of the foremost purveyors of scent and luxury. It was known for its exquisitely crafted triple-milled bath and hand soaps, our time-tested apothecary remedies, our shaving soaps, and for extraordinary grooming and shaving accessories. Caswell-Massey was the author of classic American fragrances and an early leader in developing many popular remedies such as our cucumber eye pads, almond and aloe soaps, lotions, and shaving creams. First fragrance Elixir of Love No. 1 was based on an Victorian-era formula. A fragrance called Jockey Club was introduced in 1840.

Interesting note: During the Twentieth Century, Caswell-Massey established its reputation as a leading perfumer by creating exclusive scents for celebrity customers, especially those willing to pay for something bespoke. We count Jaqueline Onassis, JFK, Cole Porter, Lauren Bacall and the Rolling Stones among our fans.

Interesting note 2: In the 1970s, there were profiles created for each customer – what they liked to do, eat, their size, shape, favorite colors and pastimes - to land on the perfect bespoke scent. Customers would ‘try on’ scents for a few weeks before their personal formulations were mastered.

8. Creed. Creed, the world’s only dynastic, privately held luxury fragrance company, founded in 1760 and passed from father to son since then, serving royal houses and the discerning public for 257 years. James Henry Creed opened his business on Mayfair’s Conduit Street – and soon began to offer fine fragrances to London’s elegant elite. In 1781, he created Royal English Leather in honour of King George III – and it remains in CREED‘s collection today, a wearable, splashable part of scent history. In 1854Napoleon III and his wife Eugenie invite Henry Creed to set up business in Paris as Court supplier to the Tuileries. CREED begins to expand as purveyor to other Imperial Courts of Europe including Russia and Austro-Hungary. Today the firm is guided by the unerring Olivier CREED, sixth in his family line to head CREED and creator of its most popular scents. His son, Erwin, 30, seventh generation and future head, has already begun to contribute to the art of CREED.

Interesting note: Queen Victoria appointed CREED as the official supplier to her royal household: among the fragrances she received was the very first draft of Fleurs de Bulgarie, as much loved today as it was then. And the courts of Europe soon followed: Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie of France, Franz-Joseph and Elizabeth of Austro-Hungary, Queen Christina of Spain… And it was at the invitation of the Emperor and Empress of France that CREED upped sticks from London to Paris, where they’ve remained ever since – synonymous with quality and exclusivity, for fragrance-lovers. (Jasmine Imperatrice Eugenie was first dabbed onto the pulse-points of the Empress…).

Interesting note 2: In the 20th century, some royalties including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor choose CREED, leading politicians, Sir Winston Churchill wore CREED’s Tabarome. Young Congressman and future President John F. Kennedy wore CREED’s Vetiver.

9. L.T. Piver. L.T. Piver story begins in 1774 in Paris at a perfume store called "A la Reine des Fleurs". Behind the counter stood Michel Adam, a dynamic individual who, in a matter of years, rose to become the official purveyor to the court of Louis XVI and subsequently to the royal families of Europe. Passing the family tradition from his son in 1799 to Pierre Guillaume Dissey, a close relative who later handed over the reins to Louis Toussaint Piver who began the Piver dynasty. By the nineteenth century L.T. Piver had over one hundred branches around the globe, including England, Belgium, Spain, Austria, Russia and Brazil. In Paris, a number of shops were opened to cater to the company's growing clientele, the most loyal of which included the Bonaparte family and in later years Sarah Bernard. A factory for the processing of flowers opened in Grasse, and a second factory in Aubervilliers specialized in the manufacture of different cosmetic products. The House of L.T Piver marked the age of momentous change by launching its exhaustive range of health and beauty products; "perfumed gloves and trinkets, face powders, soaps with extract of lettuce and marsh mallow, almond body cream, iris body milk and so on".

10. Houbigant. In 1775, a young man, Jean-Francois Houbigant, hung a hand-painted sign of a basket of flowers over his little shop in rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. From the start his fragrances found favour with royalty and the nobility. Houbigant taught the titled women at the Court of Versailles how to perfume their fans so that just a fragrant flutter would send out a romantic message. Over the centuries, the House of Houbigantbecame perfumer to the royal courts of Europe. Josephine, the future Empress of France, belonged to a group of stylish young men and women called “The Muscadins” because of their craze for musk which was Josephine’s favourite essence.

Interesting note: When in 1793 Marie-Antoinette was executed by guillotine, she carried 3 vials of Houbigant perfume in her corsage to give her strength.

Interesting note 2: Houbigant fragrances travelled in Napoleon’s campaign chest during the years when he was conquering Europe.

Interesting note 3: In the spring of 1815 Napoleon was only in Paris for three months, a period that history calls “The Hundred Days”. In those brief months he raised an army and yet found time to shop at Houbigant.

Interesting note 4: In 1838, the French house was awarded the license of “Perfumer to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria of England”. Czar Alexander IIInamed Houbigant perfumer to the Imperial Court of Russia in 1890. Houbigant created a perfume, “The Czarina Bouquet”, in honor of the Empress, Maria Fyodorovna

11. Perfumes and Colognes. Maison Dorin was founded in the latter part of the Ancien Régime in the 18th Century. The House became famous as a symbol and guarantor of feminine beauty. Perfumes had their debut at the Royal Court in the Regency but became famous during the rule of Marie-Antoinette. Maison Dorin was the house that was very meticulous about their textures and scents that it soon became a favorite amongst aristocrats and nobility, and in 1780 it became official purveyor to the Royal Court of Versailles.

Interesting note: In 1998 Maison Dorin created the Candle Light collection in memory of Princess Diana, the proceeds of which went entirely to charities supporting handicapped children.

12. D.R. Harris. The story begins just before 1790 at No. 11 St. James's Street where Harris's Apothecary set up shop. Over the next fifty years the family established a reputation selling Lavender Water, Classic Cologne and English Flower perfumes to this fashionable quarter of London. One of the proprietors, Henry Harris, was a surgeon, while Daniel Rotely (D. R.) was an early Pharmaceutical Chemist.

For over two centuries this family business in the centre of men's Clubland has served the gentry and the court of St. James's and in 1938 was awarded the warrant as chemists to her Majesty The Queen, later the Queen Mother which was held until her death in 2002. In 2002 was appointed as Chemists to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, an honour that was added to in 2012 when we had the Royal Warrant for Her Majesty the Queen bestowed upon us.

13. Rance. Since the beginning of 1600s the Rancé family became famous for producing perfumed gloves for the French Aristocracy in Grasse (France). In 1795François Rancé turned entirely to perfumery. His innovative spirit led him to create extremely refined and modern perfumes, which secured him the favour of Napoleon. He became the Empereur's favourite perfumer, and created for him "Le Vainqueur", "Triomphe" and "L'Eau de Austerliz".

In honour of Josephine Bonaparte he created "l'Impératrice" which he presented to the Empress in a precious Sevres porcelain box. The last example of this precious porcelain objet d'art is kept in the Rancé archives.

Several generations of Rancé have followed. At the end of 1800s Alexandre Rancé moved to Milan; his place at the head of the family firm is held today by his granddaughter Jeanne Sandra Rancé with her son Jean Maurice Alexandre Rancé.


14. Lubin. Pierre-François Lubin was born in 1774. Lubin was initiated to perfumery by Tombarelli, a perfume master in Grasse. In 1790, he came to Paris to complete his training under Jean-Louis Fargeon, who was then still serving as the official perfumer to Queen Marie-Antoinette. After the revolution, Lubin opened his boutique, in 1798. Its name, "Au Bouquet de Roses", was a discrete tribute to the Queen, who had by then met with her tragic fate. The creations of the young perfumer were appreciated by the first dandies who emerged after the turmoil of the French Revolution. Known as Les Incroyables or the Incredibles, while their beautiful, extravagant companions were referred to as Les Merveilleuses or the Marvelous, they were the first trendsetters. Their extravagant way of life soon became the symbol of a new Parisian savoir-vivre. Following this fashion, Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon I, had the young perfumer supply her scent. And Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Bonaparte, later to become Princess Borghese, even lent her name to one of Lubin’s perfumes.

When the Bourbon dynasty returned to power in 1815, Lubin claimed his title as “the holder of the Beauty Secrets of the French Court”, the legacy left by Fargeon. The patronage of the Duke of Angoulême, son of King Charles X, and husband of Marie-Thérèse of France, the only child of Queen Marie-Antoinette to survive the revolution, prompted Lubin to rename his boutique “Aux Armes de France”, The Royal Coat of Arms.

Thanks to this illustrious patronage, Lubin was soon to become the favorite perfumer of 19th century European royal courts. In 1821, Lubin became the official supplier to George IV, King of England, as well as to Tsar Alexander I of Russia in 1823.

During the reign of the last Queen of France, Maria Amelia, whose husband Louis-Philippe came to the throne in 1830, the House of Lubin finally obtained its title as Official Perfumer of the French Royal Court.

In 1844, the House of Lubin came into the hands of Felix PROT, who had trained under Lubin and remained close to the founding father, as Lubin’s spiritual heir. He started the internationalization process of the House and also constructed Europe’s first modern perfume factory in Cannes, on the Côte d’Azur, which opened its doors in 1873. For the first time, steam machines were used to produce the perfumes, and in particular, to extract essential oils.

15. Atkinson's. It was founded by James Atkinson, who was later joined by his brother Edward Atkinson. James Atkinson traveled to London from Cumberland in the far north of England, with detailed recipes of toiletries and fragrances that he had concocted, along with bear's grease balm and a real bear. They created fragrances, toiletries and cosmetics at their factory at the Eonia Works, Southwark Park Road, Rotherhithe, London. At first Atkinson's most successful product was a hair pomade made with bear grease. In 1832 the fragrance house and its emblematic bear went on to become the official perfumer to the Royal Court of England and to the most aristocratic and exclusive clientele worldwide.

16. Truefitt & Hill. Established in 1805, Truefitt & Hill remains the world's oldest barbershop as stated in the Guinness Book of records and are barbers and Royal Warrant holders to H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh. First fragrance "1805" was created in 1805. Another famous fragrance "Freshman" was launched in 1815.

17. E.Courday. A small perfume shop M.Maugenet & E.Coudray was established in Paris around 1810. Edmond Coudray, a doctor-chemist, traveled over the world bringing back exotic raw materials. In 1837 the house of Coudray became the official supplier to the British Court. Coudray Parfums remained the family business until 1908. when it was acquired by Edouard Colmant. After the World War II the house was revived thanks to survived formulas of perfumes.

Early Coudray's perfumes (before the war) includes Reve de Paris (1920), Nohiba or Tulip Noir (1922), Charme de France (1920), Onyx Noir (1930), etc. After the war Coudray launched Reve de Reine, Kamelia Iris, Givrine, Vanille, Vanille Coco, Jacinthe Rose, the celebrated Aqua Divina, etc.

The modern history of Coudray began in 2002. with a new owner, who does care about the traditions and the image of the house of Coudray.

Almost all modern fragrances of Coudray are based on old formulas and even have the same names (Vanille et Coco, Jacinthe et Rose, Givrine, the newest Nohiba).

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