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History of Perfumery: 1920 - 1940

This week we will end the history of perfumery starting from the roaring 20s, in which the real revolution in the world of perfumery is the'entrance to houses of fashion! The great stylists begin to see the potential of this sector and to associate their names with fragrances.

The first designer to launch a perfume was Paul Poiret with Le Parfum de Rosine, in honor of his daughter .

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The most famous fashion house that engages, in this historical moment, in the marketing of perfumes was undoubtedly Chanel with Gabrielle Chanel, better known as Coco Chanel who in 1921 launched the iconic Chanel N°5!  

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Here is a little serendipity from the world of perfumery: Chanel N°5 is the work of nose Ernest Beaux who, commissioned by the stylist, produced ten prototypes of perfume numbered from 1 to 5 and from 20 to 24. Chanel chose number 5, the “wrong” one, in fact the bottle contained a creation in which an assistant of Beaux had mistakenly added a dose greater than aldehyde, an innovative raw material that imparted new characteristics to the floral notes contained in the Chanel No. 5 prototype. The rest is history and today Chanel N°5 is one of the most iconic perfumes in the history of perfumery.

Right now, two titans are competing in the world of perfumery, one is represented by the stylists who approach this world more and more deeply and with more and more references while from on the other there are the owners of the essence houses such as Coty, Guerlain and Caron who welcome the challenge and also increase their annual fragrance launches.

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The challenge is pressing until the'advent of the world wars, where the sector is put into crisis, for example the Guerlain factories were bombed during the fighting and the production was stopped for a long period of time.

After the Second World War, the desire for renewal is tangible and also affects perfumery both commercially and olfactorily.

On the commercial level, the entrances of the big fashion houses wishing to diversify their markets are further implemented, such as Christian Dior who launches Miss Dior February 12 1947, the same day as the first collection show.

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Or Balmain which one year after its foundation launched in 1947 Vent vert, or Givenchy with the creation of a perfume for Audrey Hepburn in 1957.

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Perfume is increasingly becoming a fundamental reference for the fashion house which, in addition to fabrics and models, is also associated with precise scents and fragrances that must satisfy the characteristics of the brand's audience.

Fashion houses begin to ask themselves the question of the technical composition of their fragrances and some, the most futuristic, hire a composer nose thus giving birth to the figure of Parfumer Maison who works only works exclusively for a brand, of which it becomes the essential entity also participating in the communication activity , marketing and market strategy.

Federica Cosmast

Dott.ssa Federica D'Incà - COSMAST Master in Cosmetic Science and Technology

“Every woman has the right to be beautiful” - Elizabeth Arden

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