Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The Chateau of Versailles recently released a limited edition of the scent worn by Marie Antoinette.
A modern perfumer recreated the scent from detailed notes recorded by one of the perfumers that created scents for Marie Antoinette. Although Mademoiselle Antoinette was a "trend setter" according to one of the perfumers in a story on National Public Radio because she bathed every day, much of her court did not, so perfume was a good way to relive the nose of the distasteful odors. But the way that perfumers created Marie's aroma back in the 1700s is a little different than the way perfumes are made today.
Some components of modern perfume are synthetic. Back then they were not, so a scent like rose smells a little waxier, explains Francis Kurkdjian, the perfumer who reincarnated the fragrance. Also, the flowers used in perfume before Marie was beheaded during the French Revolution were boiled altogether, whereas now they are boiled individually before being added to the mix.
The Versailles perfume experiment was not only an experiment in chemistry, but also in history. So, while we are eating cake we might also be able to smell the complex scents of pre-revolution France.