18 marzo 2012

Houbigant: Fougère Royale & Quelques Fleurs

During one of the meetings at Cambi Cafè, there was also a lady working for Houbigant (I'm not sure she wants to be named), who had already attended a previous meeting, and since she found useful, whether for business or personal interest, deepen her understanding of aesthetics in perfumery and historical perfumes, she also took part last time. And since we talked about floral fragrances she brought us a gift to smell: the extract of Quelques Fleurs (originally created by Paul Parquet and Robert Beinaime in 1912) and the esprit de parfum of Fougère Royale (originally created by Paul Parquet in 1912), in the modern reconstruction made by the Houbigant brand and launched last year. Founded in 1775, Houbigant, along with its then-competitors Lubin and Piver, laid the groundwork of modern perfumery, from which (in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century) Guerlain, Caron, Molinard, and Coty took their moves. 

The history of Houbigant is long and winding, with many different owners and commercial choices, its historical fragrances have been launched and withdrawn several times, with different versions and fluctuating success. Today it's controlled by Diparco/L'Oreal, and in recent years has decided to relaunch its two most popular fragrances, creating a version that was closer to the original, with the help of the historic researcher and composer Roja Dove. The fundamental problem, in addition to the exorbitant cost of high quality materials, is that when Fougère Royale (1882) and Quelques Fleurs (1912) were developed a lot of ready bases were in use (ie pre-built accords, sold directly by producers of raw materials to perfumers), and even possessing the exact formula, it's not possible to know exactly what was in these ready bases because many producers have shut up long ago. In addition, many raw materials commonly used at the time (oakmoss, civet, jasmine, certain spices, animal musk etc.) are no longer used today, or only in small quantities, both for ethical reasons related to animal welfare, and because IFRA included them in the ban lists. A big problem, if you own only one third of the formula and you have to invent the rest!
Years ago, Jean Kerlèo, of Osmothèque was able to reconstruct both Fougère Royale and Quelques Fleurs nearly identical to the original, thanks to the fact that, reconstructing fragrances for educational purposes only, the Osmothèque can also use raw materials banned by IFRA, and then because the Osmothèque has a stock of old bases and animal notes unobtainable today. Those who own the wonderful book "If le parfum m'etè contè" written by Annick Le Guèrer for Osmothèque, can scratch the page on Quelques Fleurs, smell the microencapsulated scent, and get an idea of the original.
As for the original Fougère Royale, however, you must ask for it during a session at the Osmothèque, or directly to Monsieur Yves Tanguy, composer of perfumes now retired, who devotes his time to present the treasures of Osmothèque, who in two weeks will be at "Esxence" exhibition in Milan (and I recommend you not to miss this opportunity!).
But ... how are the two reconstructed scents by Houbigant like?

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