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The 19th century


This hygiene trend grew stronger in the 19th century with the printing of treaties on the art of living and hygiene, praising the virtues of the bath for the health and skin. In this society highly influenced by the rising bourgeoisie, hygiene was indeed the symbol of pure virtue and a pure soul.

From the Renaissance to the first half of the 19th century, dry perfumes were commonly used for diverse purposes: powders were used in sachets, on the face, on wigs, and sold loose in large, beautifully decorated jars.

Perfumery received a disastrous blow after the French Revolution, which attempted to sweep away all reminders of the Court of Louis 16th, despite the creation of fragrances with poignantly evocative names: Parfum à la Guillotine, Parfum à la Nation, etc.

But with the arrival of the Directoire, a new frenzy of luxury and pleasure took hold of society. The Paris of the Fops (Muscadins) with their extravagant dress, showered in musk, civet and nutmeg, and of the Belles (Merveilleuses) with their showy luxury and clothing inspired by Greek costumes, became the capital of fashion.

During the Empire, while Josephine used exotic scents (vanilla, clove, cinnamon), Napoleon preferred Eau de Cologne, which he liked to use often.

At the beginning of the 19th century, another Jean-Marie Farina, the heir to the famous house and its formula, moved to Paris and became the appointed supplier to the Emperor Napoleon I. In 1840, he sold his business to Léonce Collas, who sold it on in 1862 to Messieurs Roger and Gallet (Roger et Gallet) who continue to market the famous Eau de Cologne.

Guerlain entered the scene in 1828 when Pierre François Pascal Guerlain opened his first perfume house in Paris. He sold eaux de toilette, spa-water preparations, soaps, saponin creams, and pomades of all kinds. The boutique’s reputation quickly grew, to such an extent that men and women alike rushed to visit it. Guerlain's talent reigned supreme, and he soon built up a reputation amongst his peers as an exceptional master perfumers. After creating Eau de Cologne Impériale for the empress Eugénie, he received the title of “Official Perfumer of His Majesty” from Napoleon III.

At the end of the 19th century, voluptuous perfumes held sway with their opulent scents of patchouli, musk and heliotrope, used to perfume furs and Indian shawls.

New names appeared in the world of perfume: Edouard Pinaud, Gellés Frères, Bourjois, Molinard, Piver and Worth.

By abolishing the guilds and freeing trade, the French Revolution paved the way for the 19th century to mark a decisive step in perfume production.

The synthesis of urea by Woeler in 1828 marked the beginnings of organic chemistry, an extremely important step in the evolution of perfumery. High-quality synthetic products were now available, resulting from research conducted by the laboratories of powerful chemical industrial concerns in Europe and the United States.

From the beginning of the 19th century, researchers began to isolate interesting olfactory molecules in nature, and then invent chemical products not found in nature.

Gradually, the prices of these new products became reasonable. They were incorporated into natural products, adding original notes to the new compositions.

Among the earliest fragrances using synthetic products were Fougère Royale by Houbigant in 1882, which contains coumarin synthesised in 1868, and Jicky by Guerlain in 1889 which smells of lavender and vanillin.