We are deviating from our usual approach of discussing particular fragrances, jumping into the evolution of fragrances over the ages. As per norm, our emphasis remains on natural scents. We are not traveling too far back into history, trying to keep the discussion crisp and relevant.
Late Middle Ages
This is the period when perfumes started gaining a semblance of the fragrances we see today. This is when perfumes were being traded heavily, complete with proper packaging. Essential oils started to appear in concoctions that also included alcohol. During the Middle Ages, scents were explored more for their therapeutic and preventative nature rather than as a cosmetic element. There are historians who write about essential oils being used in regions where water and soap were scarce and among soldiers who would refresh themselves with a whiff rather than with a wholesome bath that was not feasible when traveling on foot for days at end. This was not limited to any particular region like the Middle East. Even in England, the armies of Henry V would use fragrant essential oils to keep away bad odors that would develop under heavy armored suits.
One product that comes close to something similar and is immediately available in our inventory includes Lavender Oil:
This is when the European phase of perfumes gained a stronghold. By many perfume historians, this is also regarded as the era of personal perfumers. These trends were prevalent in England and France and fashion fragrances emerged. Iconic names like Napoleon Bonaparte are reported to carry massive quantities of perfumes even when they would travel over long distance, even during times of war. Smaller locales in an around Parisian cities like Grasse started to gain attention. Some assume that as more and more folks realized the wonderful world of Mediterranean fragrances, European perfumers became more explorative. During the mid-19th century, perfumes consisting predominantly of natural ingredients, obtained via better distillation, started gaining prominence. We believe this is also when variations of Bakhoor started gaining the attention of organic chemists.
If you too want to experience the undeniable aura of Bakhoor:
The next phase….synthetics!
Perfumes continued their journey in a largely unadulterated form for many years but eventually industrial revolution made an impact. Synthetics meant bringing down the price point, elongating the survivability of perfumes, and controlling potency of their fragrance. In a follow-up to this discussion, we will talk about the role of synthetics in perfumes.