April 27, 2023
A Note From The Founders...S

We each have our own story about how our interest in perfumes began. Our passion for collecting, knowledge and preservation eventually led us to establishing Perfume Passage Foundation.

For Rusty, it was the aroma of Avon products loved and used by his mother. The scents were part of his life as a young man and he began collecting and learning about Avon. In August 2021 our PassageWAY eNews detailed the history of Avon and Rusty's story.

There are many Spanish perfume houses and a variety of Spanish fragrances, powder boxes and related accessories. For this PassageWAY issue, let's explore the rich history of Spanish perfumes and accessory items, as that's where my journey began!

Jeffrey and Rusty, Co-founders
From the Beginning...
Jeffrey's interest in perfumes started in his junior year of college as he spent a semester studying abroad in Madrid. While buying school supplies he wandered into the fragrance section of a department store and purchased a Spanish cologne called "Campos de Ibiza," that he liked. He wore it the entire time he was in Spain and when he returned to the US, packed the bottle away.

"I discovered the bottle three years later when I was moving, and the moment I smelled the cologne, memories of my time and friendships in Spain came flooding back to me. I wondered how a fragrance could do that, so I began to learn about the history of perfumes and also became fascinated with the artistry of the bottles and packaging," Jeffrey explained.
The Stora family came from Paris to the island of Ibiza in Spain in the 1950s. Often called the "Jewel of the Mediterranean," the island is in the Mediterranean Sea, and is the third largest of the Balearic Islands, about 93 miles from the city of Valencia.

The family was fascinated by the area and the youngest member of the family, Camille, launched their first fragrance called Mandarina for her Campos de Ibiza company in the 1970s. She hand crafted the scent using fruits and flowers from her garden and it was an instant success.

Today Campos de Ibiza is managed today by Camille’s oldest daughter Aurelie. The product line now includes toiletries and cosmetics. Over the years Aurelie has expanded the company with traditional, contemporary and elegant fragrances and products, bringing the brand to over 20 countries. All the products are hand crafted from the finest raw materials in Spain, inspired by the Mediterranean nature.
The scents of Spain are part of this history, as during the Renaissance years (15th and 16th centuries) trade routes discovered in Spain and Portugal helped the countries to begin competing with several Italian and French areas in developing perfumes.

Granada and Seville became perfumery hubs as the climate in these southern Spanish cities were favorable for growing jasmine, lavender and other aromatic plants used in perfumes.
Spanish fragrances often have characteristics that reflect the people and culture of Spain. Perfumers have been able to capture the warmth and zest in their scents, and these same words can be used to describe the citizens of this fourth largest European country.

Today Spanish perfumes are represented mostly by the multinational family-owned company, Puig Beauty & Fashion. They are one of the largest European perfume manufacturers that includes brands such as Paco Rabanne, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci, Perfumeria Gal and Myrurgia.
It's now 40 years since the purchase of the Ibiza scent. Perfume Passage Foundation has evolved from the memories of Avon and Spanish fragrances to a world class museum whose goals are to preserve the history, artistry and beauty of perfumes and related vanity items.
Chemist Raymon Monegal and his artistic son Estaban Monegal Prat, established the Myrurgia company in Barcelona in 1916. They produced perfumes, cosmetics and toiletries at their first location at 239 Calle de Cansejo Ciento.

The Monegal family named the company Myrurgia, created from the Greek words for essence and industry. Esteban received perfumery training in Grasse that helped him develop the exquisite fragrances, soaps and other products for the company.

He drew inspiration from his travels and interests that included the French Ballets Russe and the exoticism of the Orient. These influences provided the ideas for several of the company's product names including Maderas de Oriente, Hindustan, Morisca as well as the design of the presentation box for Besame.
He also paid tribute to the beautiful women of Spain, creating Maja, a romantic exotic fragrance that captured the spirit of Spain. The scent was a mossy chypre blend of spices with rose, orange blossom and jasmine. Promotions for the Maja products included a drawing by artist Eduard Jenner who was inspired by Spanish dancer Carmen Tortola Valencia. This soap box held several Maja scented bars.
Perfume counter tester display for Myrurgia scents.
Other perfumes introduced by the company were also inspired by the romance of Spain and included Suspiro de Granada, 1923 (Sigh of Granada), Embrujo de Sevilla, 1933 (Spell of Seville), Sol de Triana, 1927 (Sun of Triana) and Clavel de Espana, 1936 (Spanish Carnation).

The company exhibited at the 1925 Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts and won a gold medal at the Expo. Myrurgia was distributed in the US by Vivaudou until the 1930s.
Additional Myrurgia Scents
Maderas de Oriente from 1918 was a fascinating Spanish woodsy fragrance with floral notes of jasmine, ylang-ylang, bergamot with spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, over a base of sandalwood and other woodsy ingredients.

Joya, launched in 1950, means jewel and is a subtle scent that is cherished by the women of Spain,

Flor de Blason is a garden scent filled with citrus and floral scents of the Alhambra, launched in 1926.

Si Senor, is a masculine cologne that features a mixture of Mediterranean rare spices and wild herbs. Advertisements claim it's liked by virtually every man and admired by every woman! It was Introduced in 1964.

Myrurgia's Orgia, pronounced orheeah, was a floral fragrance for women, launched in 1922.
Myrurgia produced quite a few powder boxes in the 1920-40s as part of their product lines. The graphics are colorful and detailed and part of the powder box display at Perfume Passage.
Beginning in the 1920s, most of the Myrurgia products were exported from Spain to the US and Canada. Drugstores advertised the scents, touting them as "Beautiful Spain...land of troubadors and laughing senoritas...regards Myrurgia perfumes as the finest that can be produced."
Flor de Blason, Myrurgia
Suspiro de Granada, Myrurgia
Colonia Al Extracto and Face Powder, Maderas de Oriente, Myrurgia
Beginning in the 1920s, most of the Myrurgia products were exported from Spain to the US and Canada. Drugstores advertised the scents, touting them as "subtle odeurs, fired with the radiant, vivid beauty--the high-spirited caprice of sunny, flowery Spain," in this ad (above left) from a Buffalo, NY newspaper of February 21, 1924! The ad from July 21, 1931 (above right) was from the Indianapolis News and it stated that Maderas de Oriente's "natural charm of the scent is further accentuated by the unique wooden container."
Perfumeria Gal...
In 1898 Salvador Echeandia Gal and his brother Eusebio began to manufacture Petróleo Gal hair lotion in their Madrid drugstore. Their success led them to develop additional product lines and they opened stores in Paris, London, Argentina and the US.

The company's Heno de Pravia soap, developed in 1905, is still sold today and is considered one of the oldest toiletry soaps produced in Spain.
In 1915 a new Gal Factory was constructed in Madrid and in 1925 Gal became a supplier to the Spanish royal family. They continued to add colognes, powders and toiletries to their product lines. The company became part of the Puig Group in 2004.
This 1929 catalog page from Perfumeria Gal, featured wonderful powder boxes for sale, including this 3" round box with images of women skiing. This unopened powder box is included in the powder box display at Perfume Passage.
The Agua de Colonia Aneja glass bottle is embossed Gal Madrid and has a paper label and screw on cap. The yellow box has a spider web design.
Violeta, Extracto Nella by Perfumeria Gal
In December 2022 an exhibition book about the 100 years of Varon Dandy and the Spanish company Parera was released. The book, written in Spanish, highlights the exhibit at the Museum of Barcelona that will be open to the public until May 14, 2023.

Perfumeria Parera was founded in the town of Badalona in the Barcelona area in 1912. Its founder, Joan Parera Casanovas, had a vision to create inexpensive quality Spanish fragrances that could compete with the popular French fragrances.
Their original factory included areas for production, packaging, storage and a laboratory. It also included a retail space that was opened to the public.

Over the years their product lines included perfumes, powders, hair products and toiletries. Fragrances included Tentacion (1920), Cocaina en Flor (1933) and Gong (1936). Their most famous fragrance was Varon Dandy, launched in 1923.
Varon Dandy was Spain's first fragrance product line for men and the products became popular throughout Spain, South and Latin America.

In Spanish, varon means "a man" and many of the promotions for Varon Dandy showed a man that represented a dandy -- a man who gives exaggerated attention to his personal appearance and often wore a top hat, white gloves and carried a swagger stick.

With the growing popularity of wet shaving and barbershops, Varon Dandy is becoming popular again. Despite its old-fashioned retro flair and changes in the formula and bottle design, it still remains a classic mens fragrance today!
Bullfighting, Flamenco and more...
The country of Spain often conjures up images of bullfighting, flamenco dancers and music. Those themes were certainly in the minds of perfumeries and cosmetic companies, as many compacts and vanity items can be found with these Spanish-themed motifs. For the eclectic collector, Spanish is a great collecting category and items from Spain can be found throughout the Perfume Passage galleries!

This metal and paper tambourine shaped compact measures 4" around and the paper front and back include images of both a bullfighter and flamenco dancers! The inside includes a mirror and powder area. The same compact can be found with a different bullfighter image on the front and open back. The pom-poms are original to the compact.
An unmarked gold tone 1930s powder compact features a bullfighter on the lid!
Estee Lauder's Flamenco Dancer solid perfume was introduced in 2002.
This Lady Vanity 1940s zippered powder compact features a flamenco dancer image by artist Annette Honeywell.
A nice 2" porcelain painted perfume with a bullfighter image from the early 1900s.

The 6" leather guitar shaped 1940s compact still has the plastic strings intact. Inside has a mirror and powder area. It has a sticker that says Samaral, Madrid.
Cardboard powder boxes were made by many Spanish cosmetic companies in the 1920-1940s. The graphics are colorful, detailed and are a great vanity collectible. Powder boxes from Spain are part of the powder box display at Perfume Passage.
Soaps and toiletries were a booming industry in Spain in the early 1900s. Amazing that the cardboard soap boxes with colorful graphics survived all these years!
Spanish Ephemera...
We know Perfume Passage loves all things ephemera, and so of course the collection includes a variety of Spanish-themed paper items that are on display!
These two cardboard Betrian Fricot Masaje After Shave promotional displays measure 12" each and date from 1945-1965.The company was located in Barcelona.
A pair of 10" x 5" cardboard Luis Benito Famacia y Laboratorio (Pharmacy & Laboratory) perfume fans from Madrid include images of deco looking ladies wearing pearls.
The cardboard powder boxes were usually tossed away after they were empty. However, as they looked so nice displayed on a ladies vanity table, loose powder refills were available to replenish the boxes. The powder could be purchased in paper packets with beautiful Spanish looking graphics!
While Rodoll soap was manufactured by the P. Giraud & Co. in Paris, they had a sole distributor in Barcelona. This Spanish trade card for Rodoll soap promoted the virtues of the soap!
Did You Know...
Spain may not be the first country that comes to mind when talking about fashion, artists and perfumes but it should be!

Salvador Dali was a Spanish surrealist artist known for his technical skill and the often bizarre images in his work. Born in Catalonia, Spain in 1904, he received his formal education in fine arts in Madrid. Throughout his career he was influenced by several different styles of art including: Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Avant-garde.

Over the years fashion designers and perfumers collaborated with Dali and were influenced by his art in developing their clothing lines and perfume bottles. He also created a number of advertisements, primarily for the fashion and cosmetic companies after WWII while living in New York.
Paco Rabanne, the Spanish-born designer known for perfumes that sold worldwide, made his name with his metallic space-age fashions that put a bold, new edge on fashion catwalks.

Born Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo in 1934, he fled the country at age 5 during the Spanish Civil War and took the name of Paco Rabanne. He studied architecture at Paris’ Beaux Arts Academie before moving to couture, following in the steps of his mother, a couturier in Spain.
Who but Paco Rabanne could have imagined a fragrance called Calandre — the word means "‘automobile grill," and turned it into an icon of modern femininity?!

Rabanne retired in 1999, and the brand was relaunched without him in 2011. During his career after the launch of his fashion house in 1966, he launched over 100 fragrances with the most recent, Lady Million Royal, in 2023.

He died at the age of 88 in February 2023.
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 is open for tours! Please visit our website at Perfumepassage.org to view the tour schedules. If you have a group or your club/association would like to plan a visit, please contact us at info@perfumepassage.org.

Types of tours include:

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