Whether for welcome camouflage in tight quarters, tantalizing droplets of seduction or a simple flight of reverie, perfume enchants us all.
Today’s marvelous NYT story tells that tale and more–the article merits a few moments of reading/travel log daydreaming and sparked this writer’s curiosity.
The French like to say they invented the concept of perfume in the 1500’s. Their May rose, cultivated in the town of Grasse, is among the most famous flowers used in perfume manufacturing and the base scent of the iconic Chanel No. 5 –the product of both its beautiful scent and legendary style marketing. In today’s celebrity brand marketing world, portfolios often includes perfume. So far, Elizabeth Taylor’s perfume brands have generated the biggest take at $55 Million dollars.
Scholars cite the first perfume chemist as a Mesopotamian woman named Tapputi whose extraction method is mentioned on a cuneiform tablet dated to the second millennium B.C. When Roman conquerors invaded Egypt in 30 B.C., they were captivated by the plethora of perfumes and cosmetics, and famously doused plebeians during homecoming ceremonies. The ancient Egyptians so venerated the power of perfume that they conjured a god of perfume named Nefertum, recognized by his headdress of water lilies.
The global fragrance market today is valued at $30 Billion dollars and the growth of the essential oil industry is booming. Manufacturing innovation is meeting increasingly sophisticated consumer demand for personalization. For country production curiosity, here are some stats which surprised me actually: the U.S. is the number one manufacturer, with Ireland second and France third! Nearly 2,000 perfumes are sold in the U.S. The Asian markets are fast on the heels, both in manufacturing and purchasing.
And, for those who wonder how long a perfume is good in its bottle, well, the industry will tell you 3-5 years. I say “Nonsense!”….believe it or not, I still have my mother’s bottle of a French perfume named Ma Griffe by Carven which is no longer manufactured. Mom was frugal, and not inclined to purchase anything glamorous so we don’t actually know the story of how she acquired this perfume. When organizing her belongings after she died, I asked my dad if I could have it. I can only imagine that it must now be nearly 60 years old and I can tell you that it still smells marvelous and brings back memories, as so poignantly a scent can, of seeing her go out for an evening, dressed to the nines.
Increasingly, perfumes are sought after–in their “essence” as essential oils which are sought after for mood improvement.