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  Home  The History of Perfume

Perfumes have been in existence for thousands of years. From flower extracts to musk, perfumes have been produced from natural sources long before the modern day perfumes came into existence. The history of fragrance extraction and perfumes is a very interesting story, and people the world over have strived to find exotic fragrances throughout the history of perfumes. Although perfumes have never formed the basis of trade like spices, but there is no denying fragrances from all over the world have always been a desirable commodity.


The history of perfumes begins in Cyprus where the world’s oldest perfume factory was recently uncovered in 2004. Although there is no written description of what the earliest perfumes were composed of, but it is widely assumed that the first perfumes were not made from flower extracts and were made by crushing and mixing spices and herbs. The first real flower based perfumes were made by the Persians using distillation, a process that is almost unchanged to this day. The biggest contributors to the world of perfumes were without doubt Islamic chemists. Since Islamic chemists had access to a large variety of spices and flowers, they were responsible for the evolution of the steam distillation based extraction of fragrance. It was only in the 14th century that the art of perfume making came to Europe.


Once the perfume industry reached Europe through Arabic influence Hungary was the first country to improve on the age old process of perfume making. Under the orders of the Hungarian queen the first ever alcohol based perfume known as Hungary Water was made. However it was only till the 16th century renaissance that perfume making was perfected. Initially perfumes were meant for royalty and the upper echelons of society. It was not until the 18th century when France started cultivating flowers for solely extraction of fragrance, that the modern perfume industry was born. Ever since France has been and still is the fragrance capital of the world, and every year more perfumes are created in France than any other country.


Today designer houses like Hugo, Tommy Hilfiger, Davidoff, and Yves Saint Laurent are just some of the major perfume brands in the world. Not all fragrances are made from flowers or spices, perfumes are now available in a variety of synthetic and natural fragrances. In fact compared to perfumes made in the 19th century there is now a massive range of fragrances available in the market. With recent improvements in the extraction processes, fragrances that could not have been extracted in the past are now easily extracted from their source. In addition, with the advent of synthetic fabrication of fragrances there is no shortage of fragrances that were previously unthinkable.


Today the perfume industry is a multi billion dollar industry and perfumes are one of the most widely sold commodities. One of the biggest tributes a designer or perfume manufacturer pays to any popular icon is dedicate a fragrance to the individual. Pioneers in the franchise of dedicating perfumes to youth icons are perfume manufacturers Tommy Hilfiger.

Hoang Tran is the author of this article on perfume online.




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