François Coty: the father of modern Perfumery (Part 2)

Back in Paris and installed in his new boutique, François began work on creating his first perfume which would be named La Rose Jacqueminot (1904). At first Coty struggled to get his new perfumes distributed, but his difficulties didn’t last long. Whilst visiting the Louvre department stores, trying to convince them to stock his perfumes, he was met only with refusals. In a fit of rage, Coty threw one of the bottles on ground, letting it’s fragrance spread out. Instantly women shoppers started to crowd around, attracted by the scent, and demanded to buy it. Thus Coty’s first perfume became an instant smash hit.

Further launching his career, François Coty continued with the production of perfumes. In 1905, he composed the inescapable L’Origan which captivated the whole world with it's powerful fragrance. Then came Ambre Antique (1908), whose composition reminds us of Samuelson’s Ambrein, followed by Muguet (1910), the first perfume based on Lily of the Valley, then Iris (1913), the first perfume based on the Solifore flower, then L’Aimant (1927), a floral reinterpretation of Chanel’s No. 5, and Chypre, in 1917. The latter, with its departure of citrus notes on a background of oak moss and patchouli, was widely reinterpreted including: Mitsouko by Guerlain, Bandit by Robert Piguet and Pour Monsieur by Chanel to name a few. His perfume Emerald (1921) provided the inspiration for the renowned Shalimar by Guerlain. The imitator thus became the imitated.

Whenever Coty would launch a new perfume, the whole of France smelt it, such was the extent of his fame. As the money started to flow, it became one of the first great French fortunes. His runaway success must also however be attributed to his innovative nature. He understood that perfume, previously reserved for the elite, needed be brought to the masses. Thanks to this vision, his perfumes were worn by everyone in a very short time span. He pioneered the mix of natural and synthetic products to create perfumes at affordable prices. He understood the importance of sales techniques, packaging and presentation to create a luxurious image at an affordable price. Indeed it was Coty who also invented the modern perfume bottle, previously sold in the form of enfleurage or cream products. In doing so, he partnered with the famous glassmakers René Lalique and Baccarat.

Over one hundred years later, today’s perfumers all follow in his foot steps. François Coty, a model to all perfumers, defined contemporary perfumery, and created the basis of everything in the industry. He was able to take absolutes, such as the “Bondon-Dumont Wheel” invented by Chiris, which was largely unused at the time and transform it’s use such that today it's use is ubiquitous, making it a necessary ingredient for all perfumes, and firmly registering it in the perfume genealogy. Proof that even the best imitators can be geniuses.