May 25, 2024


Youth trendy style

Museum of fragrances, aged & new : The Tribune India

BM Goswamy

Woh to khushboo hai, hawaaon mein bikhar jaayega

mas’ala phool ka hai, phool kidhar jaayega?

[Like perfume is he, wafting in the air wherever he goes

What about the flower however, left behind; What?]

— Parveen Shakir, Urdu poet

Manipulating our most personal sense, the parfumeur results in being the architect of emotional areas, a painter on the canvas of imagination, a sculptor in an intangible content that works at the deepest degree of sensibility…

— from France Today

Twelve miles from Paris lies Versailles, a town soaked in recollections of all that terms like power, grandeur, luxury, fantastic style, extravagance, can conjure up. The fabulous palaces and gardens at that place aside, transporting a single back again, as they do right away, to 300 or so a long time, it is also household to an amazing selection of museums: a museum of royal coaches, for instance 1 of textiles and quilt handles an additional of French heritage yet another which preserves data of all the excellent musicians that utilised to arrive to the courtroom of Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’ himself. Between the most special of all museums there, on the other hand, for me at any charge, is the Museum of Perfumes, the Osmotheque, located in a aspect street of the city of Versailles.

Right up until the other day, I experienced — I am disappointed to acknowledge — not even listened to of that Museum, but the pretty plan of a museum on that concept — fragrances — is intriguing, so novel. The museum is not incredibly old, having opened only in 1990. But the idea of a museum like that, ‘amassing in just one place, for protected-retaining and delectation, all the perfumes at any time created’, seems to have arisen in the late 1970s in quite a few minds at once, amid them the intellect of Jean Kerleo, the most renowned nez — the word in French indicates ‘nose’ of training course, but stands for significantly additional than a ‘nose’ — of his times. Gradually, the notion took concrete kind: the only establishment of this type in the entire world came up, where ‘a perfume lover can inhale hundreds of fragrances’ — if so inclined — created ‘today, yesterday, and even in distant history’. There is right here a royal perfume of the Roman period, and the medieval Eau de la Reine de Hongries. The oldest of these is dependent on a description of a perfume manufactured for the King of Parthia in ancient Asia Slight, as recorded by the initial-century historian, Pliny the Elder. Right here was reconstituted, from a formula found by prospect in a drawer, the eau de cologne produced on the island of St Helena for Napoleon in the period of time of his exile from France. Hundreds of perfumes when thought to have ‘evaporated into the mists of time’ have been revived at the Osmotheque. The identify will come from osme in Greek, which means scent, and theque, as in bibliotheque, which suggests a ‘library’ or ‘store-house’ — including people of new moments created as soon as by celebrated vogue and perfume properties of France but discontinued over time or reformulated. Individually, I know practically almost nothing about these, but just one reads of, and luxuriates in, exotica: therefore, Francois Coty’s Chypre, Paul Parquet’s Fougere Royale, Aime Guerlain’s Jicky, as much as of Mury’s 1920 fragrance Narcisse Bleu, Caron’s 1922 Nuit de Noel, Chanel’s 1924 Cuir de Russie, and Millot’s 1925 Crepe de Chine. Correctly maybe, all of these have been generated in France, “where fragrance is virtually a religion’. It need to be very an expertise likely in there, keeping one particular of people paper strips identified as mouillettes steeped in an historical fragrance to one’s nose, and be transported to ‘the woodland glades of its origin, or the era of its initially appearance on the fragrance scene’. It is formally mentioned in its programmes that what is essential is to recognise “the electrical power of olfactory perception to counsel and evoke, to induce an association or a faraway memory, enabling each individual aromatic essence to make its personal world, enveloping us in a non-public realm of impressions and images, harmonies and wishes.” This is elegantly reported.

An picture of old fragrance bottles.

The Osmotheque, a wing so to converse of the Société Française des Parfumeurs, began with an original selection of 400 perfumes, but has now grown into storing a lot more than 3,000 perfumes from the past and the present, taking its mission most very seriously. It holds, frequently, conferences for experts and researchers and students, even exhibitions in partner museums. It publishes guides about perfumes, and concerns a bilingual periodical titled Les Nouvelles de l’Osmotheque. Obtaining obtained the status of a ‘legal deposit archive’, it receives a supply of all new perfumes made in France and substantially of the environment, and in conditions of the European Union laws, it is entitled to inquire for the components of every new fragrance marketed in France.

In all this, a person has not turned to the East and its fragrances. Woman Macbeth, ridden with the guilt of murder, did, wringing her hands. A person appreciates the lines way too well: “Here’s the smell of the blood nonetheless: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” I have really tiny thought of how a great deal do eastern fragrances element in the Osmotheque, but a person appreciates that there is a complete earth — the entire world of ‘attar’ — out there. But of that a different time, probably, besides that I cannot resist, for all that I attempt, the temptation of referring to at the very least a single legend from household. It considerations that wonderful aesthete and connoisseur: the Mughal emperor Jahangir. The emperor, it is claimed, was out riding in the countryside once, when at 1 area an outdated perfumer approached him with a humble presenting: a new scent that he had just completed distilling. He looked expectantly, as he built the presentation, at the lord and learn for a term of appreciation. Jahangir set the scent provided on a ball of cotton to his nose. “It is really nice,” he uttered, and then turned to a single of his attendants and questioned him to utilize a drop of the scent to the tail of the horse that he was riding. Significantly perturbed looking at this, the perfumer summoned more than enough braveness to address the emperor: “Your Majesty did not evidently like my fragrance.” “No, no,” the emperor claimed, “it is great, truly good, but it seems that it was distilled below a neem (margosa) tree, for it carries a faint trace of its bitterness.” Obtaining explained this, he rode on.