Although perfume really only became popular to western society as a tool to mask body odor for nobles who didn’t shower (ugh, gross), perfume had really originated thousands of years before that in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and continued its process of refinement into the perfume we know today with the Persians, Romans and Western Europe.
India also was the source for many fragrances, however many were originally incense based. Archeologists have uncovered a lot of information about perfumes and their creators from archeological digs that discovered the world’s oldest perfumery which held all kinds of mixing bowls, and perfume bottles. In those times, spices were used in addition to flowers and oils, to produce the perfumes. The first person to create the process that is used today was a Persian chemist Ibn Sina. His first experiment in the distillation process was with a rose. Until this process of distillation was introduced, perfume was made up of a very strong formula of oils and crushed spices, herbs or flower petals. The distillation process developed a fragrance that was light and delicate. Persians today are still big fans of the “rose-water” that Ibn Sina had created, and use it as a perfume, facial wash, and even as an ingredient in Persian cuisine.
With the use of modern technology this process has become even more sophisticated, with perfume companies and manufacturers employing scientists and chemists to create an even more polished product. The art of perfume making became a fixture of western European society in the renaissance era although it had been introduced already in the year 1212. Places in France and Italy began growing the aromatic plants that would be needed to provide the fragrance industry with the raw supplies needed to create the blends and scents.
Perfume primarily boomed into a large industry because of the royal and wealthy patrons who favored its odor masking abilities. Of course, we know that perfume in no way, shape or form can replace what a good stick of anti-perspirant deodorant can do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Although, having bad body odor simply interferes with the scent of the perfumes, creating a very confusing effect, rather than a pleasant one.
Today, perfume wearing is not just limited to the nobles and wealthy. Although good quality perfume still costs a pretty penny. Almost every celebrity figure has their own signature line of perfume, from actress Elizabeth Taylor’s “White Diamond” to pop singer Brittany Spears “fantasy”, apparently getting into the perfume industry requires little more than a famous name. Advertisers have to be very innovative in trying to sell perfume since scent cannot really be advertised on big screens or glossy papers. Perfume companies try to sell a fantasy or feeling associated with their fragrance, although men and women alike agree that the scents of perfume or cologne themselves have an aphrodisiac quality.
So from the ancient Greeks and Romans to modern day western civilization the combination of the raw product and its explosive advertising ensures that perfume bottles never go out of style.
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