What’s That Smell?

By Katie Potts

Most people wear it.  Some people should wear it, and some people wear too much of it.  It can either be attractive on the opposite sex, or overpowering and quite honestly, nauseating.  I am talking about perfume, and no one takes more pride in perfumes than the French people.  Quite a large number of the highest quality perfumes hail from France, but they did not originate there.


   In fact, incense is the forerunner of perfume, and it has been traced as far back as 4000BC.  However, perfume was really perfected by the Egyptians for burials, ritual, and every day citizen usage.  The every day Egyptian had perfume on them at all times.  The perfume of this time was made of incense, oils, and frankincense, and they were stored in containers made of glass, alabaster, and ebony. (The history of perfumes, 2003)  I guess it should be “smell like an Egyptian” instead of “walk like an Egyptian”.  As interesting as this is, you might be wondering how an Egyptian idea and practice became a modern industry in a civilized country like France. 

            Well, the Ancients Greeks adopted it, then of course the copy cat Romans. Eventually after many conquests and epic battles, the Arabs began to sell it, incorporating different spices and scents from different, far off counties.  The Italians traded with the Arabs then it came under the control of the de Medicis.  Catherine de Medici became the ruler of France, and under her rule, the perfume industry flourished in France. (Perfume in Ancient Life, 2003)


  Perfume in France originally became popular in the form of perfumed gloves, instead of the normal bottle or container.  However, there were bottles at this time, and they were made of pewter, gold or silver with class, kind of like a stain glass window.  (Perfume history bottle ancient time, 2003)  Louis the XV came to the throne and, due to the over usage of perfume, his court was named “the perfumed court”.   Anyone who was anyone had quality perfume on, and everyone around them knew it.  As time progressed, the French began to grow many herbs and flowers for the purpose of perfume production only, in addition to trading with other countries for exotic scents.  (The history of perfumes, 2003) 

            The perfume industry spread to different countries, but the French have always had the upper hand with their many old perfume design houses, such as Guerlain, Galimard, and Molinard. (The Great Perfume Houses of France, n.d.)  As the industry became more modern, there became more of an emphasis on unique bottle design as a better way to market. (Perfume history bottle ancient time, 2003)  Unfortunately, perfumes are not made solely from natural ingredients anymore, but the need for French perfume has not changed throughout the years.  Any visitor to Paris can visit any design house on a trip to get high quality perfume.

 For More Scent-sational Stories:

Perfume Creations, (n.d.).  The great perfume houses of france. Retrieved from http://www.perfumecreations.co.uk/pc_great_perfume_houses_of_france.htm.

Perfumes, (2003). Images #1 and 2, Perfume history bottle ancient time. Retrieved from http://www.perfumes.com/eng/bottles.htm.

Perfumes, (2003). Perfume history bottle ancient time. Retrieved from http://www.perfumes.com/eng/bottles.htm.

Perfumes, (2003). The history of perfumes from ancient times to present. Retrieved from http://www.perfumes.com/eng/history.htm.

Louis XV. (2012). Image. Retrieved May 15, 2012 from the Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_XV_of_France.

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