Chronology of Perfume Scents

Written by Leanna Serras

10 th Century AD - Perfumes were typically made from plant resins and were infrequently used. An early Islamic physician, Avicenna, extracted oils from rose petals and mixed this with distilled water to use for medicinal purposes. It was one of the earliest forms of perfume.

12 th Century – A perfume similar to the Rose Water distilled in the 10 th century by Avicenna, Lavender Water was distilled by Hildegard of Bingen in the 12 th century.

1370 - Perfume began to be used for more than just medicinal benefits. It developed into a product that was favored for its pleasant smell, which masked body odors. Oils of flowers or herbs were mixed with water to produce scent, and this combination was used until the first mixture of alcohol solution with fragrant oils was made in 1370. This blend was reported to be for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, and was referred to as Hungary Water.

1752 - Perfumes and colognes continued to develop with a variety of scents. Cologne first arrived in early America in 1752 by its English creator, Dr. William Hunter who was the founder of Caswell and Massey (a company which still produces fragrances today). It was called No. Six Cologne and quickly became one of the most popular scents in America.

1770 - The practice of shaving was frequently done by professional barbers. In 1770, a book published by a French barber, Jean-Jacques Perret, advocated the use of applying cologne to the face after a shave to enhance the skin.

1794 – 4711 Cologne was introduced and made by the Mulhen's Family perfumery shop. The scent was names after the house number assigned to the perfumery during the French occupation of Cologne. It is said that Napolean used to bathe in diluted 4711 Cologne.

1856 – Florida Water was introduced. It was considered the citrus-based American version of Eau de Cologne

1880 – House of Johnson and Johnson was established

1889 - The perfume and cologne industry continued to evolve in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1889, a French perfumer, Guerlain, introduced a new type of perfume. The fragrance, named Jicky, was a highly concentrated blend that was the first of its kind. Large volumes of perfume and cologne were no longer needed for fragrance and a small amount of Jicky could provide enough scent.

1890 – Floris No. 127 was produced for Grand Duke Orloff of Russia. At first it was made exclusively for the Grand Duke but was then reintroduced in the 1940's and became a favorite of Eva Peron.

1900 – House of Max Factor was established

1910 – House of Elizabeth Arden was established

1920 - By the 20th century, perfume was a popular product and was widely distributed. Until this time, scents had always been made of natural materials, such as oil from flower petals. In 1920, the introduction of a new product would change the perfume market and produce a fragrance that was made of synthetic materials. The result was Chanel No. 5: the first perfume of its kind to offer a scent different from natural substances. The light aroma was produced; giving a fresh scent that became extremely popular.

1930 - Perfumes and colognes evolved into fashionable products that were considered luxury items. In the 1930s, Jean Patou introduced a perfume called Joy. With its crystal container, it was known at that time as the most expensive perfume in the world, selling for approximately $800 per ounce.

1940 – The American Society of Perfumers was founded

2006 - Throughout the 20th century, the refinement of perfumes and colognes continued. Bottles and containers evolved to become as expensive as the liquid fragrance they held. In the 21st century, Clive Christian released a new fragrance called Imperial Majesty: considered to be the most expensive perfume in the world. The perfume bottle is made of crystal with a five-carat diamond in the collar. It is valued at $215,000 per bottle, and very few have been made or sold. As the perfume market changes and new fragrances continue to be released, there will always be a variety of fresh scents to choose from.