Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Extensive Perfume Gallery Recreates Historical Fragrances

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.
image: npr.org


eyesofsunshine said...

I can't really say I've ever wondered what Napoleon smelled like, it's a repulsive idea actually! And Paul Poiret popularized the brassiere? Well, no wonder nobody wanted the perfume! In 1914 something named Forbidden Fruit should have been flying off the shelves, it would hardly be proper to name it Sunday Bloody Sunday now would it? So, will you be visiting Osmotherque over Christmas?

christine said...

I'd love to say I'll be visiting the Osmotheque in December, but we'll be staying in Paris and Northern France and won't have time to go to Versailles. But what a good excuse to go back!