Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Whiff of Perfume

The whiff of perfume tickles our sense of smell and sends us into a tizzy. The fragrances of perfume are heady and even more if its discount perfume from the perfume store. The shop shelves are stacked with designer fragrances and brand name perfume for the discerning clients. What is perfume all about? In our lives it plays a double role – covers up bad odours and ushers in fresh ones messaging negative or positive vibrations. 

The story of perfume goes back to ancient days. When Christ was born the Magi, brought perfumes as a gift.  The word is derived from Latin – per fumum meaning ‘smoke’. Incense sticks are burnt at places of worship around the globe. In ancient Egypt only the priests could produce perfume in a special lab. Scented water was sprinkled on the graves of nobles and kings. The Phoenicians introduced the art of perfumery to the Greeks who improved upon it; for each body part a different perfume was used.  Soon the Romans picked up the habit and trade. The Arabs mixed rose, amber and musk scents with the building materials to build mosques. Perfumes entered Europe through Spain and the Crusaders. Catherine de Medici in the 16th century brought it to France when she married the French dauphine. Perfumed leather gloves became the rage in Paris. It was manufactured in Grasse which remains till date a perfume centre. During the Dark Ages there was a temporary setback but alchemists improved upon it in universities. It led to the invention of the pomander – a metal perforated ball through which perfume escaped. Venice became the center of the perfume industry. In the 14th century alcohol based perfume made its debut.  

Perfume soon came to be recognized for its therapeutic value and is even today used as natural treatment for hypertension, headaches etc. Side by side with per perfumes developed perfume container industry; ampoules phials and glass bottles began to vie with each other in aesthetic beauty and practical utility. In the 17th century Europe became so obsessed with perfume use that hygiene took a back seat. People forgot to give importance to bathing – the basics of all beauty treatment. The eau de Cologne brought about a revolution with this perfumed water being used for bathing, for mouth washing, for enema, for healing cuts and wound and taken as wine with sugar added.

In the 20th century the perfume industry deals with more than just scent – the bottles, the wrapping and the advertising are playing a prominent role. Unfortunately chemicals are being generously used and this can harm humans.  Synthetic fragrances are being widely used to bring down costs. Blending agents and fixtures are used to see that the scent remained for longer periods. 

Till recently the scent world could not enter the Internet world but things have changed. Sit back and click on the mouse to find out websites that are offering to send samples – sometimes a palette containing 20 types of smell. Some scents will change through the day keeping in tune with your body chemistry. The price is more affordable because with website launching huge amounts do not have to be spent on conventional advertising like bill boards displaying exotic highly paid models. So start clicking and be rewarded with the whiff of heavenly fragrance