Somewhere way back deep in my mind, I happened to lodge an article in my memory from National Geographics that I knew would come in handy one of these days. In October, 1998, NG had an article entitled “Perfume, The Essence of Illusion.” One major player in the industry stated, “Perfume is a promise in a bottle. Perfume speaks more to our vulnerabilities than our strengths. We sell hope.”
Perfume comes from a multitude of sources. It can come from the fragrant fields of lavandin along the country-sides in France. It can come from the dew-kissed petals of the Damask roses that come from Bulgaria’s Valley of Roses. Some may even come from the jasmine fields of India.
It takes 2.5 million flowers to yield just one pound of jasmine concentrate. It takes 800 pounds of crushed roses to bring just one pound of concentrate. But those pounds of concentrate can turn into dollars. One rose concentrate ran $3,650 a pound. The jasmine of India was as costly as $12,000 per pound.
Ancient history bears out that the Assyrians perfumed their beards. Nero literally washed in rose wine. In the 18th century, there were many homes that were built with wood paneling that had been scented.
One of the most riveting things about the great perfumes of the world is the way that it is mixed. At this point, the perfumer acts as a composer. The work is done almost as a three part musical piece. The part of the perfume known as the top note, or head, spins off the skin immediately, it is a fanfare and vanishes literally in minutes. The middle note, or the heart, which is compounded of the heavier materials, can last for several hours. Finally, there is the base note, or the dry down, it can literally last for several days after the wearer of the perfume has left. I might add that Mary’s ointment, Mary’s perfume, has resonated for centuries. . . . It appears to be gathering strength as time passes.