The Osmotheque is a vast fragrance conservatory in Versailles, France, that collects, catalogues and recreates perfumes of the past. It contains over 1700 fragrances, many reproduced from the original formulas.
Susan Stone, a contributing reporter/producer for NPR's
All Things Considered,recently went to the Osmotheque and uncovered some interesting facts. For instance, Paul Poiret, a fashion designer whose perfumes preceded Coco Chanel's No. 5, created a very sweet scent in 1914. He named it Le Fruit Defendu, or Forbidden Fruit. Unfortunately, his timing couldn't have been worse. This perfume was reviled by the population because it was launched during the Great War. It was perceived as a scented slap in the face against the bloody backdrop of the the war. Today, it smells not unlike many sweet scents on the market and would probably be a huge hit. For more, please go to NPR.
The Osmotheque is open to the public (although appointments are required). There are weekly lectures about the history of perfumery and the techniques involved. Visitors can see slide presentations and films about perfumery, learn more about the raw materials used, and even try some samples. For further information, please see this article in Osmoz.