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Perfume history: the history of classic perfumes

  

Perfume history

It may not sound like the most fascinating subject but perfume history is more intriguing than you might imagine.

Though perfume use as we know it began in the 19th century, when compounds such as coumarin (a sweet smelling compound) and vanillin (from the vanilla bean) where synthesised, perfume has been around since ancient times.

Unsurprisingly, evidence of perfume has been discovered in the ancient areas around Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, known as Mesopotamia, Egypt and in India.

Perfumes dating back to 4,000BC were discovered in Egypt in 2005 but the world's earliest perfume maker is considered to be a woman named Etruscan who was alive sometime in 2,000BC.

Things got a bit more sophisticated from the 10th century when distilling was discovered. This unlocked the possibility of using more delicate fragrances such as rose whereas before scented plants were simply crushed to release their aromas.

Monks in Italy came up with many perfume recipes in the 12th century. The Italians took to perfume and by the 16th century they'd begun exporting their scents to the royal courts of France.

King Henry II of France's Italian wife Catherine de Medici' was such a big fan she apparently had Italian chemist Renato il fiorentino installed in a secret laboratory connected to her state apartments by private passageways to prevent the recipes from being stolen.

Renato (or Rene as he was known in France) was credited for turning France into the European centre of perfume and cosmetic manufacturer.

Since then the French are still dominating the classic perfume scene with iconic fragrances like Chanel No. 5 and Poison by Dior but the rest of the world is catching up!

We take a look at the history of 10 of the most influential women's perfumes. From Flower by Kenzo to Poison by Dior, we explain how they all started out, what makes up their scent, and the story behind their packaging.
 - Perfume history: the history of classic perfumes




 
  

Beauty Editor
19/07/2011
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