History of perfume: The story behind our beautiful fragrances

From its powers of seduction to the belief that it could help with the enhancement of the human moods, the exotic history of our perfume is as captivating as its aromas.

Indeed perfume has always been a signifier of wealth and power. The first form of perfume was incense. Dating as far back as 3,000 BC when Mesopotamians were making perfume, these fragrances evoked centuries of glamour.  The original aromatic essences used in perfumery were herbs and spices like coriander and myrtle. Over time, the art of making perfume then traveled to Egypt where it was initially only used as aromatic resins to mask the smell of funeral rituals for pharaohs. Ancient cultures used many types of resins, leaves, and wood which were burnt in so many other religious ceremonies. However, the personal wearing of scent was first recorded by the Egyptians. This then confirms the claims that Ancient Egyptians are the fathers of modern perfume having mastered the art of creating exotic fragrances used today.

As the Egyptians mastered this art, the Greeks and Romans adopted these perfumes, producing their own oils and ointments and even a liquid using fragrant powders and oils. A major role in the history of perfumes was played by Greece, where the ideals of beauty, harmony, proportion, and balance played a fundamental role not only in art but also in everyday life. It was no surprise to anyone that perfumes and oils would become the favorite elements of those who assigned them a divine origin. The Greeks loved floral aromas which they blended with olive or almond oil and sometimes added orris root and anise. The oils were then used both before and after bathing and by both men and women alike.

From Greece, in a natural evolution, perfumes reached Rome during the Republic. It is believed that the first barbarians and perfumers arrived in Rome coming from a Greek colony in southern Italy.  In time, Rome became rich and prosperous, a city with an absolute symbol of civilization and power where luxury, elegance, and beauty were of great value. At this point, perfumes could not be missed, and gradually this trend extended to the borders of the empire. At first, these perfumes were reserved only for the nobles. As their price declined so much, they became accessible to everyone. Soon, perfumes began to be used not only for personal use but also for ceremonies to refresh the air in palaces or theaters.

The art of perfume making spread throughout the world when travel became more common and trading developed between different nations. The creation of different fragrances and use were discovered in the different countries involved in the trade. Thereafter, perfume became a status symbol used by the few who could afford some of the expensive fragrances. A major advancement in the perfume industry occurred with the development of distillation, the chemical process of replacing oil with alcohol as the perfume carrier during the extraction of fragrance oils from Rose flower by an Arabian chemist. This development led to perfumery experiencing a huge progress in the Renaissance given the increased knowledge of chemistry and improvement of the distillation techniques used.

The perfume industry has undergone several changes in technique, materials, and style. All this has created a modern flavor industry that incorporates creativity, mysticism, and romance. However, irrespective of the various innovations and advanced techniques introduced into perfumery, Egypt remains the best today as it still exports pure perfume ingredients such as Jasmin and Rose oil to almost 2/3 of the world. Our supplier of raw materials, Nimma, a company located in Egypt supplies all of our perfume fragrance oil. Despite starting exportation of perfumes since 2015, they have been in the perfume sector for 13 years. They are considered one of the largest exporter of perfume ingredients in Egypt. They also export their fragrance products to France, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, Russia, the UK, and most Asian countries. Some of their fragrance ingredients are solely manufactured by them while some are imported. This is due to the fact that some of these ingredients are indigenous to their region and to obtain the best ingredients possible for their fragrance scents. Ultimately, they have a full spectrum of fragrance scents with oils being of two types:

Essential oils which are all natural extract obtained from natural sources and

Fragrance oil which can be a combination of natural and synthetic scent oil.

The timeline of perfumery is such an intriguing period of history to delve into to find out more about something which we all enjoy in our daily lives. There’s a story behind every scent! We hope you’ve learned something new about fragrances with our brief history of perfume, and that hopefully you are inspired to pick a new scent for yourself. Take a look at our collection of classic fragrances for timeless scents you can enjoy and cherish forever.