How long have people been using perfume?

When and by whom was the perfume invented?

09/01/2015 - fragrances, lifestyle

The history of perfume is almost as old as mankind.


People have been using perfume as a fragrant accessory for around 6000 years. The word “perfume” is derived from the Latin “per fumum”, which translates as “through smoke”.


Many years ago people began to study how to capture and use the delicious smells of nature. Even then, the most popular sources were fruits, roots and flowers.


The Egyptians are considered to be the true inventors of perfume. Around 3000 years before Christ, they embalmed the deceased with fragrant ointments and oils to facilitate their transition to the realm of the dead.


European seafarers brought new raw materials with them from their conquests, such as spices from India, flowers from Madagascar or scented woods from America.
The manufacture of perfume has also been documented in Europe since the 14th century. Incidentally, the French town of Grasse is considered the founding city of European perfume production.


After the craftsmanship and the technical prerequisites had developed to such an extent that distillates of high concentration could be produced, the first essential oils finally came onto the market in the 15th century. The Doctor and alchemist Hieronymus Brunschwig wrote around 1507: “Distilling is nothing more than separating the subtle from the coarse and the coarse from the subtle, making the frail or destructible indestructible, the material immaterial, the corporeal spiritual and the unsightly more beautiful”.


The emergence of perfumery is among other things with the arrival of Catherine of Medici at the court of Heinrich II. In 1580 came the Alchemist and pharmacist Francesco Tombarelli moves to Grasse and opens a laboratory for the production of fragrances, making Grasse the start-up center of the European perfume industry. 1709 takes Lemery a classification in which he differentiates between a royal perfume and the perfume for the "normal citizen". The latter, however, should not have any aesthetic effect, but only had the task of disinfecting the air.


Perfume also had a therapeutic effect at this time, it supposedly invigorated the mind, strengthened the body and was considered an important weapon in the fight against the plague. Perfume was supposed to cleanse, protect and was also a symbol of material prosperity. The assumption that harmful germs could infect the body while bathing encouraged the use of scented water on a large scale, which became an indispensable aid in daily care and toilet. No water was used as a cleaning agent. This is where the name “Eau de Toilette” comes from.


In the time of Louis XIV (1643-1715) perfumes were more than necessary. You didn't wash, there was no hygiene. Being dirty was considered perfectly normal at the time. Rumor has it that Louis XIV only took one bath in four years!
With the help of heavy scents, people's body odor was whitewashed. The guild of glove makers fought against the unpleasant leather smell of freshly tanned gloves with perfume and was allowed to call themselves "perfume manufacturer" at the beginning, later "powder manufacturer".


Developed at the beginning of the 18th century Giovanni Maria Farina the Eau de Cologne. This was considered a panacea at the time. The Corsican Francois Coty was the first to mix synthetic with natural substances and is therefore considered the father of modern perfume. He also relied on the external appearance of his perfume and therefore left his bottles off Glass artist Lalique make.


In the 19th century, perfume slowly developed into a luxury good. Around the turn of the century, the first synthetic fragrances emerged, an indispensable part of perfume production. Modern perfume production began here. Perfumes are given a name and are filled in unmistakable bottles.


Due to industrialization at the end of the 19th century, mass production and the fully synthetic production of flavors suddenly became possible. It also made perfumes much more affordable. From 1910 onwards, besides the perfumers, the fashion designers were also interested in the manufacture of fragrances.

Posted by Natalie

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