A unique Cologne product: eau de cologneBill Clinton, Françoise Sagan, Goethe, Queen Victoria, Napoleon, Marlene Dietrich, Voltaire, Sissi — all of them used eau de cologne. But the authentic, original eau de cologne was actually created by an Italian, Johann Maria Farina. He’s the man who created a fragrance that would remind him of his homeland — and it’s fairly certain that he was also searching for more pleasant sensory impressions than malodorous Cologne could offer him over 300 years ago. He wanted his fragrance to smell “like a spring morning in Italy after the rain”.
This novel fragrance, an essence of lemons, oranges, bergamot, grapefruit, herbs, and flowers, made Farina and Cologne, the home of the original eau de cologne, world-famous. Today this fragrance is produced by the eighth and ninth generations of the Farina family.
The world’s oldest fragrance factory: the Farina HouseThe company called Johann Maria Farina Gegenüber dem Jülichs-Platz GmbH — or G. B. Farina for short — was founded on July 13, 1709. That makes it the world’s oldest fragrance manufacturer. Its headquarters have been in the Farina House on Obenmarspforten since 1723. This is the birthplace of eau de cologne, and today it’s Cologne’s Fragrance Museum. Today every product of the Farina company is still decorated with a red tulip, a symbol of purity and quality. It was derived from the company’s original red seal, as well as the fact that back in the early 18th century tulips were rare and expensive.
Guided tours of the Fragrance MuseumA visit to the museum is worth your while — not only because of the tours, which are conducted by guides in historical costumes, but also because of the deep sensory impressions you’ll naturally experience. The tour takes you through the history of the production of this original perfume, of which Napoleon used up two whole bottles of it every day. You’ll have the opportunity to sniff essences and find out more about the processes, such as enfleurage, that are used to produce perfume. And as you view the images and exhibits you’ll be immersed in the enchanting world of the perfume creators, or parfumeurs.
Rapid success: Farina’s fragrance took Europe by stormThe new fragrance enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 18th century, especially in the princely courts and royal houses — these being the main destinations where its high price was not an obstacle. Eau de cologne was being exported to Paris as far back as the 1720s, even though the actual volumes were still small. A consignment of 24 bottles was sent to Paris in November 1721. Between 1730 and 1739, 3,700 bottles were delivered to a total of 39 addresses. In a letter written in 1773, Farina mentions shipments to Spain, Portugal, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France. Eau de cologne was mentioned by name for the first time in a letter written in 1742. Before that, it had been known as “eau admirable”, especially in aristocratic circles.
Starting in the 1740s, sales of the fragrance continued to soar. In 1747 Farina noted that his eau de cologne was now renowned throughout Europe. Then the Seven Years’ War broke out — and Farina supplied the officers of France’s two armies on the Rhine, whose outfits included of powder, wigs — and eau de cologne. The French officers sent the fragrance to their wives — and between the 1750s and the 1760s Farina’s sales were almost exclusively limited to France. From 1750 to 1759, the company sold 12,371 bottles to French customers.
The Fragrance Museum since 2003The Farina company has experienced many organizational changes since it was founded more than 300 years ago. The Fragrance Museum in the Farina House has been telling the story of the famous original Eau de Cologne since 2003 and takes visitors on a journey into the world of perfumes.
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