January 16, 2023
A Note From The Founders...S

People often ask how our interest in collecting perfumes began. When we first started collecting, we seemed to gravitate towards collecting those scents we liked and wore. That sparked an interest in learning about the origins of men's scents and their manufacture. The rest is history!

Over the years, like most collectors, our knowledge, and of course collecting interest, continued to grow. So when the idea for Perfume Passage was developed, we knew men's fragrances and products would be front and center.

We love the stories and history of early men's fragrances and thought we'd share some of them with you in this issue.

Nefertem (right) is the ancient Egyptian god of perfume that embodies perfume's sacred and mysterious power. His image is part of the mural in the Vault.

Jeffrey and Rusty, Co-founders
From the Beginning...
Perfumes, especially men's fragrances, have certainly evolved since ancient times.

Centuries ago public odors were smoke, open sewers and rotting food and all were a definite assault to our nose! It was no wonder that both men and women were looking for fragrant potions out of a matter of necessity.

However, no matter where your ancestors are from, the likelihood they either used or manufactured fragrances is probably true. A brief timeline and history of perfumery helps us to understand its evolution and how the multi billion dollar perfume industry came to be.

  • Before 19th century modern perfumery, fragrances began in Mesopotamia and Egypt and were later refined by the Romans and Persians. 

  • The world’s first recorded chemist was Tapputi, a perfumer around 1200 BC in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). She supposedly distilled flowers and oil with cyprus and myrrh. They were added to water and then filtered to get the desired result.

  • Tapputi (left) is depicted in the Vault's mural by Chicago artist Sarah Anderson.

  • The Egyptians began using bottles to hold their scents, used mostly for religious or medicinal purposes. Myrrh, frankincense and rose were common ingredients.
  • To date, the oldest evidence that perfumery existed was discovered during an excavation in Cyprus in 2004. An archaeological group discovered evidence of a factory that existed about 4,000 years ago. The find indicated that perfume manufacturing was a successful industry at the time.

  • Perfumery reached Europe in the 1300s with the development of steam distillation and arrival of new raw materials brought to the area by explorers.

  • The first European alcohol-based perfume was made in Hungary. It was known as Eau de Hongrie (Hungary Water) and developed at the request of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary around the late 1300s to early 1400s.
  • The art of perfumery grew during the Renaissance in Italy (1340 to about 1550). In France the perfume industry became the center of European perfume manufacture after Catherine de' Medici's personal perfumer brought his talents to the area. She was queen of France from 1547 to 1559 by marriage to King Henry II.

  • When Louis XV became king in 1715 the perfume industry flourished in France and even more so after Napoleon I came to power in 1804 as stories have been told that he even dabbed on his favorite Houbigant fragrance before going into battle!

  • One of Napoleon's scent bottles is on display in the Vault. This cologne bottle from his necessaire travel box is wrapped in leather, with a silver screw cap.
Early Men's Scents...
Obviously, bathing is the best choice when we want to smell good and be clean, but throughout history the basic activity of bathing wasn't a reality for many.

While there were soaps sold in salons and perfumeries, many were also home made using pungent and dangerous ingredients. So it seemed to make sense that using fragrance was a preferred and easier method to cover up body odors.
The Barbershop windows in the Passageway include a variety of men's vintage including talcs, lotions, aftershaves and soaps.
Mens soaps (Jabon) like this unopened bar of Meneses, included the factory location and the fact that the soap "limpia sin aranar," which means clean without scratching!
Colognes and aftershaves were available to try at the barbershop. Customers could then purchase their favorites to use at home.
So while perfumery does go back thousands of years, men’s fragrances are considered a much newer development. They can be traced to 1709 in the city of Cologne, when Italian Giovanni Maria Farina developed a special scent to honor his new hometown in France.

He called the fragrance Kölnisch Wasser (Cologne water) and the name has remained. Farina’s original Eau de Cologne has been in almost continuous production since its creation and is still made today, although the formula remains a secret. His original shop is still open and they're one of the most successful fragrance manufacturers in the world.
The earliest known eau de cologne of this variety still in production today is Muelhens 4711, introduced by Wilhelm Muelhens in 1792. Its scent was fresh and different from the heavier popular fragrances at the time, with the aroma of citrus, flowers and herbs.
This Muelhens 4711 Kolnisch Wasser bottle is from the 1990s and the advertisement is from 1930. Note how the bottle is similar to the bottle in the ad from 70 years earlier!
During this time, fragrances were mostly used for sanitary purposes and "eau de toilette" is from the French term for personal grooming, which also means "cleaning water."

Stories say that England's Queen Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603) despised bad odors and had public places scented with perfumes. Also, King Louis XV's royal court (1715 to 1774) was known as "la cour parfumee" (the fragrant courtyard) as they used scents to hide odors as well.

Synthetic compounds and new distillation techniques helped the growing perfume industry and as a result fragrances became less expensive to make and purchase. They were also becoming better preserved which allowed them to be shipped around the world. Fragrance started to be used to enhance, and not just for hygienic purposes.
Houbigant created the first fougere fragrance in 1882 called Fougere Royale, which was the first synthetic scent.

A fougere is a perfume category, similar to chypre which is the feminine strand of perfumery. Fougeres are the masculine scents that capture the images of ferns in a fragrance. The top notes of citrus, often bergamont with middle notes of lavender and base notes that include oakmoss and coumarin, give fougere scents their masculine tendencies.
A 1934 ad for Caron's Pour du Homme along with a contemporary bottle of the eau de toilette (left). The bottle design hasn't changed much in almost 90 years!

The nose behind this aromatic fragrance was Caron's founder Ernest Daltroff.

Pour Un Homme was extremely successful and Caron practically created a brand new market as scents for men flourished. Prior to this fragrance, there were generally only unisex eau de colognes or English lavenders for men to choose from.
One such scent that predated Caron's Pour Homme was Acqua di Parma's Colonia. Acqua di Parma started as a small factory in Parma, Italy and their first Colonia fragrance was created in 1916 and initially was used to scent handkerchiefs.

In 1937, the Shulton Company redeveloped their Early American Old Spice fragrance for women, and in 1938 introduced Old Spice for men, which is still one of today's most successful colognes for men.

A display of Shulton's products is located on the lower level at Perfume Passage.
Lanvin for Men was introduced in 1979. The company used beautiful advertisements to promote their fragrances, many created by artist Alexander Warren Montel (1921-2002), who was a fashion illustrator for the House of Lanvin in the 1950s. These cardboard easel-backed store promotions were also designed by Montel.
Post WW2 Scents...
Post World War Two saw men's fragrances growing in popularity across Europe and the US. The previous sanitary and medicinal functions of aftershaves were no longer necessary and men were looking specifically for fragrances to wear. There were many well-known men's scents throughout the decades that are now part of the displays at Perfume Passage!
  • Cuir de Russie is a leathery-smoky scent by J. G. Mouson & Co. and was released in 1940.

  • In 1949, the house of Dana created English Leather.

  • Northwood's House For Men Inc. was located in Chicago. Introduced in the 1940s, their HIS aftershave, cologne and talc came in the iconic glass bottle shaped like a gentleman's torso with a head-shaped stopper. The name of the cologne, "HIS," is embossed on the chest.
  • In 1951 No 89 by Floris, a woody aromatic fragrance was launched.
  • Created in 1955 as an Eau de Toilette, Pour Monsieur was the first men’s fragrance created by Chanel. It has a citrus aroma with a hint of spice.

  • J. Jacobs & Co. from San Francisco introduced their Formal Affair cologne in a bottle shaped like a penguin in a suit.  The stopper is his hat.
  • Aramis is a mix of woody and spicy aromas, introduced by Estée Lauder in 1964.

  • Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage, a citrus scent, was released in 1966.

  • Hai Karate by Pfizer is a citrus aromatic fragrance for launched in 1967.

  • Brut by Faberge is a aromatic spicy fragrance launched in 1968.
  • Paco Rabanne Pour Homme by Paco Rabanne is a aromatic fougere fragrance, launched in 1973.

  • Gucci Pour Homme by Gucci is a chypre fragrance, launched in 1976.

  • Polo by Ralph Lauren, a woody chypre fragrance was released in 1978.

  • In 1981 Calvin Klein introduced Calvin, a woody floral musk in 1981.

  • Armani Eau Pour Homme by Giorgio Armani is a citrus aromatic fragrance, launched in 1984.

  • Boss Number One by Hugo Boss is a aromatic fougere fragrance that was launched in 1985.

  • The 1990s saw many fragrances moving away from fougeres and included Kenzos Pour Homme in 1991.

  • Jean-Paul Gaultier's Le Male was an oriental fragrance with a hint of mint, released in 1996.

  • Thierry Mugler's A*Men, a fragrance was introduced in 1996.
Who Wore What...
Everyone has their signature scent and a man's fragrance choice can say a lot, right? So what do you think these scents say about the man?

  • Actor Hugh Jackman wears Tom Ford Grey Vetiver, a woody aromatic with earthy tones released in 2009. If it's good enough for Wolverine...

  • Basketball player Lebron James sweats on the court but off the court smells like The One for Men by Dolce & Gabbana, a woody spicy scent released in 2008.

  • First US President George Washington wore Caswell-Massey Number Six. The company was the first personal grooming and fragrance company started in the US, founded in 1752. Wonder how he would feel to see his image on this 1983 box of Presidential collection of bath soaps!

  • Winston Churchill, aka The British Bulldog, smelled of cigars and brandy, but he also smelled of Creed Tabarome, a favorite citrus scent he wore while leading his country.

  • Writer Ernest Hemingway preferred America One 31 by Krigler, the first fragrance launched by the New York house of Krigler in 1931. The cologne got its name as it consisted of 31 different scents mixed together including black pepper and cumin, giving it a woody spicy aroma.

  • President John F. Kennedy was a considered a sporty dashing man and Jockey Club by Caswell-Massey was promoted as a sporty dashing cologne with its citrus and sandalwood notes. It was originally introduced in 1840.

  • Jeffrey Sanfilippo has many favorite scents in addition to his first choice of Caron's Tabac Blond, while Rusty Hernandez-Sanfilippo enjoys the vintage L'Heure Bleue and a modern Byredo scent.
Tabac Blond was originally released in 1919 as a scent for women. A homage to women’s liberation, this subtle scent combines leathery top notes usually found in men’s fragrances with a floral bouquet. It's been a popular scent for men and women for over 100 years!
L'Heure Bleue Eau de Parfum by Guerlain is an amber floral fragrance originally for women, launched in 1912. The nose behind this fragrance was Jacques Guerlain.
Rose Of No Man's Land by Byredo is an amber spicy fragrance for women and men, launched in 2015.
Fragrance Facts...
  • Over the years, the perfume industry began using the word "cologne" for men's fragrances as a distinctive way to distance themselves from the feminine associations of perfume.

  • Unisex fragrances--those that men feel as comfortable wearing as women-- are somewhat easy to create. They are light and delicate, never strong or overpowering, using neutral citrus and woodsy notes to create a balance. And as unisex scents interact with our natural body heat, the scent won't smell the same on men and women!

  • In 1994, Calvin Klein launched a unisex scent, CK One, and it became an instant sensation. Reports showed that at its height of popularity, 20 bottles of CK One were sold every minute!
  • National Men’s Grooming Day was founded and sponsored by American Crew, a company that supplies men’s grooming products as well as being a leading salon brand that caters specifically to men. The day was founded in 2007 as a reminder for men to overhaul their grooming routine and take better care of themselves. It's celebrated on the third Friday of August each year and will be held on August 18, 2023.

  • The US male fragrances market was estimated to be valued at $2.02 billion in 2020.

  • The average man shopping for a fragrance will take about 30 seconds to sample and decide if they like it. And 25% of men say that they never purchase cologne for themselves!
Cologne, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum… what's the difference?

The distinction is the concentration of perfume extract: the higher the concentration, the more expensive it will be and the less you will need to wear.

So from the highest concentration to the smallest:

  • Perfume/Perfume extract over 20% concentration in essential oils

  • Eau de Parfum 10-20% concentration in essential oils

  • Eau de Toilette 8-10% concentration in essential oils

  • Eau de Cologne less than 8% of concentration in essential oil
Perfume Passage's "SIP, SNIFF & SAVOR" multi-scent-sory dinner will be a celebration of our senses!

The event will feature international fragrance expert and host, Sue Phillips, CEO Scenterprises Inc. and Sue Phillips Fragrance, as she takes our sense of scents to new heights, discovering the magic and mystery of exquisite ingredients used in fragrances, food and wines, indulging in these pairings, as we celebrate the senses at Perfume Passage! 

This multi-scentsory event will start with hors d'oeuvres and champagne while touring the Perfume Passage galleries. A four-course curated dinner will follow, with a "scent journey" guided by Sue. Paired with fabulous wines, this immersive scentsory dinner will be a delight -- educational, scentertaining, creative, interactive and FUN!

Guests will “sip” wonderful wines, “sniff” matching exquisite fragrances, and “savor” delectable courses while traveling through a gustatory and culinary experience with a 24k gold dusted chocolate finale topping the delicious dessert by Humboldt Gorillaz, LLC.

In addition, guests will be gifted with an exclusive custom fragrance (valued at $145.00) created by Sue, as a memento for the evening's scensational experience. And every time they wear it, they'll be reminded of this innovative memorable event!

Please visit our website for further information and to purchase tickets. Or contact us at [email protected] and include Sip, Sniff & Savor in the subject line.
Our mission is to preserve the history, beauty and artistry of perfume bottles, compacts, ephemera and related vanity items. Through education, outreach, and awareness of the Perfume Passage collection and library, our goal is to inspire art lovers, collectors, archivists and curators to keep this history alive. 
Perfume Passage will not be offering individual tours through March 2023. However, if you have a group or your club/association would like to plan a visit, please contact us at [email protected].

Types of tours include:

  • Private docent-guided tours
  • Group tours
  • Symphony of Scents and Sounds