A family business since 1926 ...
In the last nine decades, four generations of the same family succeeded in managing the company. While the world of fragrances underwent several changes over the past century in terms of the avant-garde of modern chemistry, the explosion of consumption and brands, the durability of the Fragonard House and its exceptional success illustrate the exception of the triumph of traditional quality perfume with a refined clientele in search authenticity.
The secret to Fragonard's success is the passion of a family for a job, a region and a certain lifestyle ...
The history of the perfume
An industry as old as humanity ...
Fragrance in antiquity - a means of communicating with the deities.
The etymology of the word "perfume" is found in the Latin phrase "per fumum" (smoke with smoke), so long before the modern perfume production techniques were developed, the first fragrances were obtained from the burning of wood , Resins, and more complex mixtures.
Man has always been exposed to odors, and even if the etymology of the word is not a proof in itself, we can assume that his first discoveries were made around the fire, throwing plants, grass, leaves, branches of various plant species. From a scientific point of view, archeology allows for a certain attestation of the production and especially the use of perfume starting with the fourth or third millennium, I.H. The use of perfume is contemporaneous with the appearance of primes and religious purposes, for communicating with the deities and for allowing the dead to meet in the afterlife, especially the Egyptians.
Egypt - the antique center of the perfume
Of all the great civilizations of Antiquity, Egypt has the most influence on the history of the perfume. Even though Alexandria's decisive role in the perfume industry, through the perfumery corporations and renowned alchemists, has its minimal economic and political influence towards the end of the Roman Empire. In ancient Egypt, religious celebrations were numerous and systematically accompanied by perfumed offerings. However, the Egyptians did not limit the use of perfumes for exclusively religious purposes. If some fragrances were actually reserved for sacred rituals, others were used in everyday life to conquer, seduce the opposite sex, and improve the quality of the domestic conviet, creating a frame that stimulates olfactory feelings, like those dedicated to deities.
Greece - the beginnings of hygiene and the cult of the body
As in other areas, Egypt and the Orient will convey, by sea, the science of perfumes to Greece. Subsequently, they will import raw materials to obtain perfumes, thus becoming experts in getting various fragrances. For a period, it was maintained, intended mainly for religious perfumes, but Greeks perfume interest was directed in equal measure, and its use for medical purposes and for personal hygiene.
In man, the cult of the body is associated with exercise and public baths during which men use, sometimes excessively, scented oils. As for a woman, she reserved hours for her toilet inside her gin.
The conquests of Alexander the Great to the Orient, like the expeditions of the Pharaohs, are an opportunity to buy perfumes, incense and spices. On this occasion, Greeks bring to the West new flavors of animal origin, such as musk and gray amber, which will revolutionize the perfume industry.
Rome - from thirst to delight in the senses
Nearly a thousand years of history, Rome is transformed from a village into the undisputed capital of humanity. If the Republic succeeds for a long time in imposing the policy of buoyancy, during the Empire it is replaced by the thirst of the discovery of oriental refinement and perfumes. Public baths attract numerous clientele and body care is widespread among the favored classes of ancient Rome. Odors, ambient fragrances, oils and creams for skin and hair, spices are spiced in the heart of Rome. This abundance makes the moralists of the age condemn excessive use of perfumes.
Great monotheistic religions
The adoption of Catholicism by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD. Has led to the withdrawal of excessive use of perfumes, associated with oriental cults. When the Roman Empire falls, the Catholic Church remains the only force organized in front of the barbarians, and the use of perfume will be limited to profane use for a long time.
Jewish religion and culture are developing under the influence of Oriental and Egyptian religions. Judaism has left writings from which it is easy to understand the sacred status of perfumes and incense.
For Musulumani, the perfume is at the heart of all religious ceremonies, the Qur'an specifying which products to use and the ritual to follow in each situation. Profane use is also appreciated and Arab scholars will use their knowledge in the evolution of perfumes. The rapid development of commercial relations with the rest of the civilized world leads to the spreading of their knowledge in the field of alchemy.
The Middle Ages and barbarian influences
The adoption of Christianity as an official religion has limited the profane use of the perfume of the Roman Empire, and after the barbaric invasions, perfumed desires have remained just a reminder. However, perfume evolution is not syncopated in this period, its secrets being transmitted successively from civilization to another.
During the barbarian invasions, it is not necessarily the opposition between light and strong perfumes, but especially the opposition between the Roman fragrances and the barbarous odor that come from the toilet or the kitchen. For a while, only aromatic plants grown in farm gardens will be used, following the model developed by Carol de Mare in its palaces and fields. Although the problem of hygiene remains an important concern in the Middle Ages, many perfume fragrances have been lost and have not been found until after the reopening of the Romanian commercial routes and the discovery of new civilizations through the famous trips made by Marco Polo. Venice becomes, for a while, the heart of perfume trade.
From the Renaissance to the Century of Lights
Towards the end of the fourteenth century, liquid perfumes take the place of solid perfumed products. In the Renaissance, the water was associated with all that is evil and even suspected of being responsible for the spread of the plague. To protect themselves from epidemics, doctors wore long robes and covered their face with a mask fitted with a long beak filled with scented fragrances. Bathrooms were considered dangerous and unhealthy, so the company increasingly resorts to fragrance to cover up the disgusting smells of unwashed bodies. We prefer very strong, dizzying, effective enough to carry out the dissimulation mission: amber, musk, jasmine, tuberose, etc. In the 16th century, in the Toscana area, perfumes were produced and marketed with great success by glove sellers; Being used in the manufacture of gloves, to annihilate the disgusting odor of the skin. The combination of leather and perfume leads to the establishment of the perfume guild in France in 1656.
In the time of King Louis XIV, this corporation obtains the monopoly of perfume distribution. The high demand for perfumed products, previously imported from Italy, has led France to develop its own production line. The Grasse region, which benefits from a particularly favorable climate and a regional dynamism awarded by the Montpellier Faculty of Pharmacy, focuses on the culture of raw materials for the production of perfumes, and later on for the manufacture of perfumes.
The Century of Lights is the launching scene for perfumes, especially Colonial Water. The alcoholic preparation based on rosemary, bergamot and lemon becomes the favorite perfume of the century.
France, through court representatives who were unparalleledly refined to the rest of European populations, became the homeland of the largest fragrances and the most innovative perfume creations. If Paris dominates the scent trade, Grasse is world-renowned for the diversity and quality of the cultures that underlie the perfume production.
19th Century - the beginnings of modern perfumes
During the French Revolution, perfume is no longer a priority, but some creators use the tragism of events to promote their products, such as Guillotine Fragrance or Samson Cream.
Then, the Empire sets a new taste for luxury and for exquisite and refined products. In order to meet the wishes of Emperor Napoleon, his official perfumer will create a model of glass meant to be worn in the boots of the most powerful man in the Western world.
In the nineteenth century, as all branches of the industry, perfume production will achieve a revolutionary development. The emergence of modern chemistry, the progressive democratization of society, the emergence of the bourgeoisie and the avalanche of scientific and technical discoveries in all fields will reorganize the crafts and perfumery products. The progress of organic chemistry leads to the production of synthetic molecules that reproduce the olfactory qualities of the most rare essences. Perfumes are consumed in the form of bath salts, sachets for lingerie or pillow cupboards, and the sprayer, invented in 1870 by the writer Brillat-Savarin, which simplifies the use of alcohol-based preparations.
20th Century - perfume supremacy
In the twentieth century, is associated with other artistic creations, not only desired for its unique fragrance but also for the positive image it offers to the individual. The names of fragrances evoke exoticism, moods or nature. Bottle manufacturers put their talent at the service of refined and attractive bottles to promote new perfumes. The great fashion designers, starting with Paul Poiret, the first to associate his perfume creations, easily invade this dark world of perfume.
In 1925, the most famous perfume of fashion designers, Chanel no. 5, created by Ernest Beaux. Lanvin, Rochas, Patou, Ricci, Balmain and Dior will join soon, combining their original creations with original smells. For the general public, perfume creators of fashion are the only way to access the world of fashion houses and illustrate a form of democratization of luxury. In the 1950s, perfumes for men also developed. American companies produce flavors tailored to their customers and are committed to capturing the foreign market. Nowadays, marketing is the heart of all perfume creations. Several hundred new fragrances are promoted each year, which only a small part survive until the first anniversary. Copying large luxury homes, all brands of clothing, leather or distribution offer perfume with their logo. There is no other actor, singer or famous sportsman who will not be proposed to use his name on a bottle or in an advertising campaign. The new ones, represented by children or even pets, attract producers willing to Have these promising opportunities. Store chains want to have an olfactory logo, as easily identified by the consumer as their bright insignia. The textile industry tests new fibers capable of maintaining perfumes for a long time. Faced with this diversification and industrialization, perfume makers continue to offer original and quality creations designed in the spirit of the tradition of the great perfume houses
Grasse and Fragrance
Grasse is one of those places to associate immediately with wonderful memories if you had the opportunity to spend a stay there or even just a few hours. Holiday resort or the capital of perfume, Grasse remains a historic and modern city at the same time.
From Tabacari to the endless roses of May
The exceptional geographical location of the Grasse (in southern France, near the Côte d'Azur) gives it a pleasant and favorable climate for the cultivation of numerous floral and aromatic plants. Benefiting from the warm sunshine of the south of France, the gentleness of the Mediterranean Sea, the nocturnal freshness, the area has witnessed a significant development since the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century, the tobacco industry developed, which gave the area a world renown. The Grasse skin was famous for its quality and the green color obtained from the mackerel maceration. The proximity to the Italian peninsula where this industry dominates the economy, as well as the regional dynamism given by the pharmacy faculty in Montpellier, underlie this avant-garde activity and prosperity.
On the other hand, the very gentle climate of the region allows for the successful cultivation of jasmine on the plains since 1560. The production of rose rose, tuberose or lavender will complete the landscape.
The growing demand for perfumed products is at the heart of the development of raw materials production for fragrances in the Grasse area.
Since the 16th century, when Provence was annexed to the French Crown, this helped local produce of leather products to win favors at the royal court. Grasse, the city of tobacco and the area of fragrance raw materials, is launched in the manufacture of fragrant leather products. In 1614, Louis XIII created the Corpus of Masters of Confectionery of Gloves, which, from 1724, gains a special status in the Grasse area. In the meantime, perfume production becomes the exclusive activity of the Grasse factories.
The nineteenth century marks the emergence of an industrial activity that gradually embraces local crafts. Major family factories are developing during this period, some of which are still thriving nowadays. In addition to the production of finished perfumery products, Grasse plants are becoming essential for the supply of raw materials for perfume production.
The two world wars and the 1929 crisis, as well as the development of international trade, will limit the supremacy of the Grasse area, so that the perfume capital fails to become the capital of the fragrance synthesis industry, which will develop further in Switzerland, the United States and Germany.
Today, Grasse remains the capital of perfumes produced by traditional methods and the preferred spot for those who love the high quality perfumes.
School of the sense of smell
Adult sensitivity is largely the result of the cultural, sensorial and social environment known since childhood. Like the other senses, the smell can and deserves to be educated. Asked every day just as much as seeing, hearing, or touching, it is transmitted to younger generations as a secondary sense. But the Grasse region and its history, in the symbiosis with the perfume, makes an exception, meaning that since the early years of life, young people have been handed over the manufacturing processes inherited from previous generations. Following the steps of the parents, young people find their way to the family-owned factories.
Thus, the best smell sensors are from the Grasse area or have attended intensive courses in the factories in the region. A good "nose" is able to memorize more primary smells and imagine the result of the mixture between them. This capacity is accompanied by the creation and adaptation to the tastes of the customers.
Today there are schools that provide professional training in the field, carried out in large enterprises where raw materials are manufactured.
The olfactory pyramid
The olfactory pyramid defines the structure of a fragrance by describing the notes we perceive at a certain interval after we have perfumed.
Top notes - those that are felt in the first moments and are very volatile. These notes will be felt right after spraying the perfume and lasting for up to two hours. The raw materials used for top notes are, in particular, citric (lemon, bergamot, orange or neroli). These notes are the most difficult to obtain, being most often those who decide to buy perfume and make up 5% of the fragrance specific to the perfume.
Heart notes (or middle) - feel from 15 minutes to four hours. The heart notes are composed of jasmine, lily of the valley, clover, violet, rose or magnolia.
The base notes - keep from one hour to 24 hours. Certain raw materials last up to three months on certain textiles. The base notes give perfume persistence and fix the top and heart notes. We can remember that used raw materials: oak moss, opopanax, pure rose essence, musk or sandalwood.
Fragonard Parfumeur was founded in Grasse early last century. Today, with its founder’s female heirs at the helm, it proposes a whole universe of fresh and contemporary products nourished on its Provençal sources, through museums, shops and new creations for the home.
Fragonard is the beautiful story of a family, of perfumes and of women. A story that began in Grasse in 1926 when Eugène Fuchs opened a perfumery he named Fragonard in tribute to the famous Grasse painter.
From father to son and son to grandson the business grew. No longer content with just retailing, Fragonard now exports its raw materials and supplies other prestigious perfume makers such as Elizabeth Arden in the United States. The perfumery works now comprises three separate factories in different locations, all open to the public.
In the 1970s, when Eugène Fuchs’s grandson and heir, Jean-François Costa, was at the head of the company, this art lover conceived the idea of combining his various collections of objects concerning the history of perfume making so as to open a museum in Grasse, followed by two further boutique museums in Paris. This initiative increased Fragonard’s already considerable prosperity and gave it a cultural dimension.
In the meantime, the women of the family joined in the adventure. The first was Jean-François’s wife, Hélène, who anchored Fragonard in Provençal traditions by building up a rich collection of regional costumes and jewelry that are today on display in the sumptuous 18th-century Clapiers-Cabris town house in the center of Grasse. Here a superb display, designed by Jacqueline Morabito and laid out in a succession of reception rooms, takes you on a moving journey through elegance and refinement.
In this family saga come Agnès and Françoise, who when very young joined their father in the business so as to ensure its continuation and lead Fragonard, now 80 years’ old, down new paths. Agnès and Françoise Costa share the work of marketing, creation and production monitoring, taking their inspiration from what appeals to them personally: a trip to India that gave them the idea of making jewelry in semi-precious stones, or quilted and embroidered bedspreads using patterns that revive Provençal history. From this was born Confidentiel, a showcase shop like a boudoir located in the heart of Grasse.
The House of Fragonard - A family tradition
Fragonard over time.....
1926 – Fragonard Parfumeur opens in the heart of Grasse - located in a magnificent factory building since 1926. This structure was a tannery in the 18th century and was then transformed into a perfumery at the very beginning of the 19th century. Patrons can discover the secrets of traditional perfume making from the processing of raw materials to the packaging of finished products. The equipment used, from the copper stills to the machines in the soap-making workshops, is of historical, social and cultural interest since it demonstrates the techniques and conditions of work prevalent in family-run perfumeries up until the 50s.
1968 – The Usine de Parfums opens in Eze-Village - The modern design of this immense perfume factory is an interesting contrast to its location in the charming medieval village of Eze. A visit to the cosmetics laboratory where Fragonard’s creams and other skincare products are developed is included in the tour. Additionally, a rare and remarkable collection of perfume bottles and labels illustrating the history of perfume making in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is displayed at this location.
1978 – The Perfume Museum opens in Grasse - One of the most extensive private collections of perfumery objects retracing 3000 years in the history of perfume. Precious perfumery accessories (Egyptian make-up spoons, medieval pomanders,etc) are displayed amidst Provençal furniture and pictures of women at their dressing tables. A modern perfume fountain, the work of sculptress Béatrice Guichard, welcomes visitors with the scent of fragrant May rose.
1982 –The Perfume Museum opens at rue Scribe in Paris-Opera - The Fragonard Museum of perfume located at “rue Scribe” right across from the “Opera Garnier” is a splendid 1860 private mansion, which once was home of Maria Callas. Discover the exquisite perfumery collection carefully acquired over 60 years by Jean-Francois Costa that is now harboured in a recently renovated museum, which conceals breathtaking stuccoes, painted ceilings and ornamental chandeliers.
1986 –The new perfume factory opens on the outskirts of Grasse - Opened so that an even larger number of visitors could learn about the diverse aspects of manufacturing perfumery products. Although a tour of this factory also explains the various stages in perfume making, state of the art production tools are used in this establishment. Similarly, a tour of the packaging rooms show how perfumed products made in the factory are turned into sophisticated consumer goods ready to be used to a perfume-loving public. The factory is surrounded by a garden of sweet-smelling aromatic plants.
1993 – The Théâtre des Capucines Museum opens in Paris-Opera - The Théâtre des Capucines Museum, built in 1900 and totally renovated in 1993, proposes a journey of initiation into the world of perfumes. “In this intimate setting Jean-François Costa has gathered together very lovely collector items from all eras. Vases, amphorae containing balms used by the Egyptians from ancient times, pomanders filled with amber, musk and diverse aromatic mixtures…” Text taken from Les Echos, 19 Sept. 2003.
1996 – Opening of the first fragrance store in Rue Ossola, Grasse - The first store dedicated to individual visitors opened in Spring 1996. Here the entire collection of fragrances and perfumed products was offered at the same prices as those used in the factories. This was the basic concept used to develop subsequent Fragonard stores
1997 – The Provençal Costume and Jewelry Museum opens in Grasse - As knowledgeable connoisseurs and lovers of the traditional Provençal art of living, the heirs to Parfumerie Fragonard wished to share their enthusiasm for Provencal costumes and jewellery. Housed in the magnificent Clapiers-Cabris townhouse, this intimate museum displays a superb collection of 18th and 19th century items that highlight the elegance of Provençal traditions: clothes, accessories and exquisite traditional jewellery acquired over the years by Hélène Costa, mother of the current directors.
1998 – The Fragonard Maison shop opens in Grasse - Fragonard Maison or the art of living. Fragonard proposes exclusive collections of boutis (traditional quilting), household linen, pottery, ceramics, basketwork and reproductions of Provençal jewelry.
1999 - Fragonard Maison opens on Bd Saint-Germain in Paris and in Eze-Village - Fragonard Maison proposes not only the company’s perfumes and eaux de toilette but also all its exclusive collections of linen, ceramics, basketwork.
2000 –The Café des Musées opens in Grasse - This café close by the City of Grasse’s main museums invites visitors tired by their explorations to relax in its cool arbor and enjoy the delights of Provence: light, refined dishes such as salads, warm quiches and mouthwatering desserts that please the eye as much as the taste buds.
2003 - The Fragonard Confidentiel shop opens in Grasse - In the magical decor of a new shop, jewelry in semi-precious stones, dresses and coats in silk or cotton, embroidered bed linen, Provençal boutis and more beckon enticingly.
2004 –The Fragonard first concept store opens at Rue des Francs Bourgeois in Paris - For this new kind of shop, Fragonard chose the historical Marais district to display its entire collections: perfumes, art de vivre, home decoration, jewels and clothes are sharing for the first time the same universe. High-quality jewellery and handcrafted items from all over the world
2006 –The Fragonard concept store opens in Saint Paul de Vence
The Fragonard concept store opens at Rue Saint Honore,in Paris
The Fragonard concept store opens at Caroussel du Louvre, in Paris
2010 - The Fragonard concept store at Montmartre in Paris
2011 - The Fragonard concept store opens at Cannes
2011 - The Fragonard Museum opens in Grasse - The Fragonard Museum displays 15 main paintings and drawings dedicated to the town’s most famous citizen, the painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). It also exhibits the work of Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837) and Jean-Baptiste Mallet (1759-1835), two other Grasse artists.
2012 - The Fragonard concept store opens at Nice
2013 - Fragonard Parfumeur by ADDA Shop, Romania
2014 - The Fragonard concept store opens at Marseille
2015 - The Fragonard concept store opens at Haussman, Paris and Cannes, Forville
2015 - The Fragonard concept store opens at Avignon, France and Milan, Italy
2016 - The Fragonard concept store opens at Bercy Village, in Paris
2017 - The Fragonard concept store opens at Saint-Tropez