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THE MYSTIQUE OF PERFUME

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Since time immemorial, perfume has held a special place in people's minds.

The burning of incense, the sprinkling underfoot of sweet smelling flower petals, crushing aromatic plants into vegetable oils - all these were means of enjoying the pleasures of natural fragrances.

The essentials of modern perfume came into being in the 1300s when chemists discovered how to better distill alcohol and to mix it with lemon and other scented plants.

By the time of the arrival of the Middle Ages, France had become the world centre for perfumery.

The Kings of France were renowned for their use of perfumers to create their scent of the day, an extravagance that in the 1700s lead to the Court of Louis XV being be called the Perfumed Court.

The tradition for France to continue as a centre of excellence continued well after the French Revolution. Napolean was a massive user of Eau de Cologne, two bottles a day liberally sprinkled on his clothes, so popularizing perfumes as a necessity for the very wealthy, and France as the world's leading centre of manufacture.

Out of this came the luxury brands of the latter part of the 19th (and 20th) centuries beginning with Eau de Cologne, still very much in demand in the 1920's and 1930's. Throughout that time France continued its perfume dominance.

The mystique of fine perfumes continues undiminished.

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