The Magic of Perfumes

Prestige issue 257-258, Dec.2014-Jan.2015

Your Signature

Odors are all around us. In nature with buds, in front of a bakery, in the kitchen … We love it or do not love it. Certain smells evoke emotions, like a true elixir of joy in life, others have a negative effect on mood. Initially, before using them to seduce, fragrances were relaxing remedies.

The Pharaohs created the first perfume, Kyphi, with multiple virtues. Its sweet smell relaxed, it seems, slowly and gently delivered from daily worries, without the disadvantages of alcohol. Later Napoleon I used every day a bottle of cologne to maintain his exceptional energy. At St. Helena, his faithful Mamluk Ali, succeeds, with ingredients found on site, to restore the essential lotion for the emperor. And under the Second Empire, this magical Cologne calmed migraines of Empress Eugenie! This is how the ancestors have survived centuries full of saving flavors, such balls of scents, scented gloves, fragrant ointments … Perfumes have played a big role in health until the XIXth century when perfumes made a big splash in Japan. While entering to their offices in the morning, employees felt lemony flavors with energizing virtues and in the afternoon a floral scent that promotes concentration, and at the end of the day, a fragrance of forest interior, strong relaxing! The same smell can cause different reactions in two individuals.

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Perfumes began then to invest welfare. They are disturbing, voluptuous, provocative, heady. Each one his his own taste. Some love fresh floral fragrance, others prefer the delicate and classic, spicy … Scents strongly affect thought, heart beat, blood pressure. Note that the power of fragrance depends on the concentration of essential oils. The Eau de Toilette is generally stronger than the perfume, its purpose is to refresh. Its scent disappears mostly in three hours while the fragrance is thinner but lasts longer than 24 hours. A minimum of a few years is required to develop a scent that could contain up to 300 ingredients, which usually remain secret not to be copied. Around 1920, William Poucher, imagining a pyramid, has created a method to describe the fragrance with notes as a measure of evaporation rate of perfume ingredients and ranking them on a scale of 100, the fastest to evaporate being the closest to the top of the pyramid. It is the top note that creates the first encounter with fragrance. This is the most volatile. Then the heart note is beginning to grow as the aroma interacts with the skin. It lasts several hours. The base note is that which comes from the components of the fragrance begins to emerge, revealing the true personality of the fragrance. This note continues to months on a garment.

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It is in 1709 that Jean-Marie Farina founded in his hometown, Cologne, Germany, the oldest perfume house. He released his first perfume, Eau de Cologne in 1719. In 1828, Pierre-François Guerlain opened his first perfumery in Paris, he soon becomes the supplier of Napoleon III. Then year after year perfumeries grow to encompass the planet: Jicky by Guerlain in 1889, Chypre by François Coty in 1917, Chanel No. 5 in 1921, Joy by Jean Patou in 1930, L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci in 1948, Diorissimo by Christian Dior in 1956 … and the chain continues.

The great perfumers unanimously agreed to classify perfumes in seven major olfactory families.


  • The Woodlands. These fragrances are created based on vetiver, cedar, sandalwood, woody notes.


  • Oriental, also known as the amber. They are made of a mixture of vanilla, resins and wood notes or spices or even flowers. Initially, it was François Coty who, in 1908, created this great olfactory family, for men and women.


  • Flower. Made from floral scents, these scents are sometimes based on a single flower like the Muguet of Caron.


  • Hesperidia. They are born of citrus zest and are the dominant of Eaux de Cologne.


  • Ferns. These perfumes are a blend of lavender, vetiver, geranium, oak moss, and are usually for men.


  • The chypre. They are prepared following the creation in 1917 of the perfume by François Coty Cyprus.


  • The leathers. Olfactory creations that certainly remind us of the smell of tanned leather.
















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