Perfume History: The Boom of the Fragrance Industry Started in the 20th Century

We already established that in the end of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century, perfume was merely a single-flower fragrance. Designer perfumes created as the result of a more complex recipe were considered too expensive and rather hard to get, they were merely a gift for the wealthy aristocrats. The most popular flower fragrances came from delicate flowers like rose, violet, lily of the valley or lilac.

Scents composed of floral bouquets were introduced towards the end of the first decade of the 1900s- as mass production on some of the biggest perfumes was started. This mass scale extension of the perfume industry came as a result of recent chemical discoveries, when compounds were found to bind the floral notes together. This made perfumes much cheaper, as well, compared to the exorbitant prices design would take before the 20th century. These new discovery in chemistry actually revolutionized the industry, also allowing abstract fragrance creation, things which had no relation to a single floral note. This allowed the creation of overtones and new synthetical notes which greatly changed the way people looked at perfume.

In 1921, famous couture artist Gabrielle Channel launched her own brand perfume. Created by Ernest Beaux, this was the 5th in a line of perfumes the designer presented Madame Chanel. Hence the legendary name no.5… a perfume that never ceased to make victims throughout history. Even today, when talking about perfume masterpieces, experts will unmistakably quote Chanel no.5 as the perfect accessory to a sophisticated and elegant lady. In fact, Ernest Beaux was the first creator ever to introduce the use of aldehydes in his perfume creations. Chanel no.5 was the first completely synthetic mass- market fragrance.

Only nine years after the creation of Chanel, the world of perfume saw the arrival of a new family of fragrances: the leathery perfumes.  Florals returned with a vengeance as well, with the emergence of more French perfume houses creating masterpiece after masterpiece- Jean Patou’s Joy created in 1935, Caron’s Fleurs de Rocaille in 1933.

Chanel’s example was soon followed by other world famous designers who started creating an assorting line of perfumes: from Christian Dior to Jacques Fath, from Pierre Balmain to Nina Ricci. And thus started the boom of the perfume industry…

The world of fragrance today is one full of joy for the senses: everything is being created for all tastes and budgets. Today’s perfumes are made by perfume experts trained in the aesthetic traditions of renaissance: they spend years in apprenticeship, learning everything that is to know about floral accords, amber notes, musk receptor antagonists and the molecular binding affinities of floral receptor proteins.

The art of perfumery started as a divine science used to conciliate the gods. Today, it has lost some of its mystical values but it has been opened to the masses. Everyone has access to these sublime creations today, and due to this fact, we live in a more flavorful world now, one where memories of the Paradise flowers is no longer a memory.

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