By 1988, perfume had become a $3-billion industry in France. Around the world it was a $10-billion retail business. "Perfume is as old as civilization," Jill Johnson Piper explained. As reported, "The literal translation of the Latin phrase per fum is 'by smoke', which reveals its ancient purpose as an incense offering to the gods. In both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible the use of fragrance for personal as well as religious uses is noted. 

"A significant milestone in the history of fragrance was the reign of Cleopatra, 'the eternal feminine,' who believed in every means of overwhelming the senses. She used scented lotions on herself and even on the sails of her barge. From her time on, perfume has been used by women in ever increasing amounts." The 'Los Angeles Times' observed, "The Old Testament tells how Queen Esther bathed '6 months with oil of myrrh and 6 months with sweet odors and with things for the purifying of the women' before her marriage to King Ahasuerus of Persia."

1961 Oleg Cassini: Does perfume really make a woman more attractive to a man, or is it just something pleasant to wear? 

Edouard Cournand: Let me ask you a question. Does champagne do anything to you or does it just quench your thirst? Perfume is like a glass of champagne. It actually stimulates the nervous system. If you are in a happy mood, or a nostalgic mood, perfume will intensify it. The same is true of a romantic mood. 

Jill Johnson Piper continued, "Cleopatra bathed herself in fragrant oils and salves before her rendezvous with Marc Antony and Caesar." Jedu Bin Hassan added, "It was the fragrance of this beautiful woman that brought Rome to ruin. From that inception, perfume has carried its weight in gold. At one time, you could trade precious oils for diamonds and lapis lazuli." 

As understood, "Crusaders brought perfume from Palestine to Europe during the Middle Ages. As commerce spread through the Renaissance, perfumes were introduced to France and England, and ultimately to the New World, where colonists spent $2.3 billion on personal fragrances in 1986." Perfumes were known in France as "noses". The world capital of perfumery was Grasse in France. "When western Europe settled down to a high degree of civilized society, kings and emperors brought perfume into prominence for personal use and France was established as a leading producer of fragrances as early as the 1530s."

Oleg Cassini: You say perfume acts like champagne. The effects of champagne can be traced scientifically. Do we know anything about the scientific response to perfume?

Edouard Cournand: Oh, yes. Scientific findings have established that odors bypass the reasoning areas of the brain. Scents are known to release hormones into the blood stream and to actively stimulate the motor impulse.

"Far more is spent on promoting a perfume in modern France than on creating one," Stanley Meisler reported. "It cost Christian Dior $11 million in 1985 just to launch the perfume 'Poison' on the European market." Robert Ricci remarked, "Perfume is changing from a universe of charm into a universe of shock." To clarify, "A perfume is an alcoholic compound that generates a scent pleasing to the human sense of smell.

"The compound is made up of any or all of 3 primary materials: fragrant vegetable materials such as the petals of jasmine; animal scents such as musk from the male musk deer of the Himalayas, and chemical synthetics that reproduce fragrances such as violet and vanilla that are hard to capture naturally." Jacques Polge created 'Coco' maintained, "A formula for a perfume is not a chemical formula. A formula is worthless unless you know your primary materials.

"The formula lists the primary materials and the proportions used of each. But there may be at least 20 varieties of each material. You must know them. We keep the formula for ‘Chanel No. 5’ in a safe under lock and key. But, if you stole it, you would not know what to do with it. I get 60 to 100 ideas a year. Very few, of course, ever become a perfume that is marketed. Those are the limits of all composers of perfumes. But that does not hold me back."

Robert Ricci insisted, "90% of women choose a perfume for its fragrance, only 10% for its concept and marketing. I'm not against marketing, but the primordial thing is creating the fragrance." 'Scripps Howard News Service' informed, "Technology has changed the way perfumes are manufactured, but the basic principles remain unchanged. Essential oil are extracted from flowers and plant substances, and then blended with animal substances, synthetics, alcohol and water."

Tom Yaegger of 'Maybelline' told the press that in order to slow the volatility rate (the rate at which fragrance evaporated), fixatives, supplied by animal substances such as musk and ambergris, had been added to the blend. Other additives, including anti-oxidants and sunscreens, were added to prolong the shelf life of the product. "The concentration of essential oils in a fragrance determines whether it will be a perfume (parfum), a cologne or a toilet water (eau de toilette).

"The concentration of perfume is 10% to 20% oils dissolved in 80% to 90% alcohol. Colognes contain 3% to 5% perfume oils dissolved in 80% to 90% alcohol, with water making up the balance. Toilet waters have about 2% oils to 60% to 80% alcohol, the balance consisting of water. Based on the dominant characteristics of essential oils, fragrances are divided into 8 basic families, such as Oriental, floral, aldehydic, floral bouquets, modern blends, woodsy-mossy-leafy, spicy blends, and semi Orientals.

"To test a fragrance, it is necessary to wear the scent for several hours, because the smell you perceive in the bottle will be different from the smell once it's applied to your skin. In the bottle you'll smell the first note, which has the highest concentration of alcohol. On your skin, the first note will evaporate within 15 to 20 minutes, and the complex second note will emerge. After about an hour, you will be able to detect the final note. Because of the different acidic level of every skin, fragrance operates differently on everyone. Add to that the vagaries of personal preference, and fragrance becomes a subjective experience."

Jean-Claude Ellena made the point, "A perfumer may make 100 efforts to arrive at his idea. It must be seen as an artistic effort. You have an idea and you try to approach it, but you may never really reach it. Whether a product is natural or synthetic has no importance for the perfumer, but it's hard to convey that to the public. The result is what counts.

"There's a slow evolution of the perfume as the different products evaporate. But overall, a good perfume has the same theme from beginning to end. You have to have a sense of the market. You don't create anything original that way. There are some perfumers who have no imagination, who merely follow the whims of the public. Me, I like to impose my ideas. All the words you use to describe tangible objects can be used to describe the image of a perfume."

Allan Mottus argued, "French perfume houses have to deal with the international market today, and that means creating in New York or Paris." Fifth generation Frenchman Philippe Guerlain told Kay O’Sullivan in 1984, "The art of making perfume is not a science. To have the ability to make perfume you must have a specific developed sense." Of his cousin Jean-Paul, Philippe Guerlain expressed, "It is this ability, plus the practise and the teaching he received as a child from his grandfather, Jacques, whom I regard as one of the greatest trainers.

"Let's be frank, the winds of change blow from the West and in Europe the West means America. There was a gap between the American and French perfumes, but we have breached it. The Americans like stronger perfumes, we have to supply it. The Americans invented marketing but our man was born in France. We haven't gone that far yet."

A good perfume was said would generally contain 4 elements: flower, animal, root and spice. To elaborate, those elements could be, "flowers, fruits, spices, leaves roots, seeds, grasses and mosses, resins, bark, wood Beaver, the musk deer, the sperm whale, the civet cat." At the 1978 International Conference on Perfumery held in Barcelona, Spain, Edmond Roudnitska told guests, "A fine perfume is one that produces a 'shock' in us, an olfactory shock which excites the senses on first contact … followed by a psychological shock … all the more enduring as the perfume steadily develops its form, dissipating slowly, revealing to us … if not its structure, which is generally but little apparent, at least the details of its silhouette. Such a form, if it is original, will register itself in our minds."

Claiming "many people cringe when perfume prices are mentioned, but they don't consider the cost of other luxuries – theater, restaurant dinners and the like," Robert Ricci made the comment, "There is a lot of workmanship (labor) connected with it (creating perfume). Perfume can provide a lasting pleasure." Robert Ricci was 22 when he assisted his mother established the family couture business (back in 1932). He told 'Associated Press' in 1974, "In 29 years I've developed only 5 perfumes because each takes me about 5 years. I always design with a particular woman in mind and strive for a woman. You shouldn't be overpowered 50 feet away."

Elizabeth Sirot made known, "It takes 300,000 petals of jasmine to produce one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of concentrate. That kilo costs us 450,000 francs ($80,000 in 1988). A few years ago, a eunuch came into our store on the Champs Elysees to buy perfumes for the 40 women in a harem. And there was a shiek who bought 'Shalimar' to fill his pool. But those days are gone."

Vivian Brown reported in 1974, "It is necessary to cut 4 million flowers in order to get 2 pounds of absolute of jasmine, an ingredient of good perfume. It takes about 250 workers from sunrise to noon, which is the best time of day to cut the flowers. The oil extracted from them now (in 1974) costs about $2,500 a pound. Essence of rose is higher even than that, about $3,000 for the same quantity."

Edmond Roudnitska created 'Femme' perfume told the 'Los Angeles Times', "A perfume can be a work of art like a symphony or a master's painting and therefore deserves the same respect." Jean-Pierre Tornai told Mark Chester in 1989, "This is a highly competitive and complicated business. It's a woman's business, yet it needs men to run it." The 11 years between 1975 and 1986, manufacturers introduced 485 new women's perfumes onto the market.

Jean-Pierre Lerouge-Benard of Molinard (founded in 1849) told Mark Chester, "Years ago, the perfumer was considered just an artist. Nowadays (by 1989), he must be a good businessman as well as be creative. This is a risky business. We have to anticipate what kind of fragrance will be in vogue before actual production. It takes perhaps 4 years to develop the concept, create the formula, research, package and market it as a product."

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