Petits Plaisirs: Vintage French Perfume Labels

The oldest French perfume houses are that of Guerlain founded in 1828 by Pierre-Francois Guerlain and Molinard founded in 1848 and who had Queen Victoria as one of their devoted clients.

Perfume and the use of essential oils dates as bar back to the ancient Egyptians who used it for religious rituals. In the 1650s, perfumed gloves became all the range in France probably due to the fact that Catherine Medici was quite a fan of them in her native Florence and brought them with her when she married the future king of France, Henry II.  

France is known the world over as the perfume capital of the world, particularly the region of Grasse in the south of France where the particular microclimate has helped cultivate thousands of flowers and plants to produce 2/3 of France's natural aromas. C'est incroyable, non?

Perfumes and oils were considered highly luxurious and only the very wealthy could afford such luxuries. It makes sense then that the vessels in which perfumes were housed in had to be little pieces of art themselves! And of course the labels... which is really what started this whole journal post, the labels of French perfume bottles were intricately painted canvases for artists. 

French perfume bottles were swathed in flowers of every imaginable kind that would recall the pleasure of walking through a scent filled floral garden. Roses, lilies, jasmine, violets... anything that would remind the wearer that she herself was a jewel of a flower.

It bares noting that perfumes and oils were mostly used to cover up body odors and other offensive smells... apparently baths were not all the rage. While I was in France visiting Versailles last Autumn, I was told that King Louis the XIV had essential oils mixed into the fountains in his gardens as to help cover up the stench of urine and feces. Mmm...delightful! 

Remember that one of the first appearance of perfumes arrived in France in the form of scented gloves as worn by Catherine de Medici... which of course makes sense because when you're holding your nose due to an unpleasant odor in the air or coming across a marbled walkway where men have decided to relieve themselves along the walls all summer long, well, a scented gloved hand would be a Godsend!

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Petits Plaisirs are short quips and entries in the savadyblog journal of the little things we find pleasure and delight in throughout everyday life. If you have a suggestion for a future post or enjoyed this article, do leave us a comment below!

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