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.