01. Napoleon, a fan of cologne
02. Reconstituting Napoleon’s scent?
Before becoming Emperor, Napoleon was a soldier. He had no royal lineage and was never trained to rule as the dauphins of France were. But this all-conquering hero was also a real fan of perfumes. Read on to find out all about Napoleon’s love affair with perfume.
Napoleon, a fan of cologne
Many historical accounts recount Napoleon Bonaparte’s passion for perfume, or rather cologne. According to the historian Annick Le Guérer, Napoleon used an astronomical quantity: nearly 120 liters per month! Why so much? The emperor believed that it had hygienic properties. He used to rub it on himself and even drank it. Did you know that he always carried a vial of it, hidden in his boot?
Discover the refreshing scents of Bon Parfumeur’s eaux de cologne and you’ll soon see why the emperor loved this type of perfume so much. There’s 001 with orange blossom, petitgrain and bergamot, 002 with neroli, jasmine and white amber, 003 with its delicate touches of yuzu, violet leaves and vetiver and 004 with gin, mandarin and musk.
Over the centuries and rightly or wrongly, perfume has been credited with having many benefits. But the constant interest in perfumes by major historical figures proves that this luxurious treat has always played a unique role.
Reconstituting Napoleon’s scent?
Many people want to experience the fragrances worn by historical figures for themselves. What would Louis XIV’s favorite perfume have been, what would Marie Antoinette’s jasmine hair oil (which gave her away when she fled!) have smelled like and how was the Queen of Hungary’s perfume made in 1370?
It’s impossible to know for most fragrances. Their recipes no longer exist and since no-one can confirm the smell of these perfumes at the time, they’ve probably been lost forever. However, recipes for some fragrances do still exist today, such as Guerlain’s Eau Impériale: it was made specifically for Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III.
But it’s still possible to travel back in time with perfume. Some scents are inspired by the small amounts of information found by historians, while other perfumes perfectly recreate a fragrance that was used centuries ago.
This was exactly what happened with the scent worn by Napoleon on the island of St. Helena: the original perfume was created by Mamelouk Ali, a faithful servant of the deposed Emperor who stayed with him during his exile. The story of how the recipe for the perfume was discovered is incredible: it was found in an old chest of drawers, bought at auction in Versailles by a friend of Jean Kerléo, the founder of the Osmothèque perfume archive.
The Osmothèque certifies each of the batches that are reproduced using Mamelouk Ali’s recipe, thereby ensuring the perfume’s quality and conformity. In the 21st century, it’s still possible to wear the same perfume as the French Emperor did in exile in 1819. This is the only existing olfactory evidence related to Napoleon Bonaparte that we have.
Want to wear a fragrance that’s reminiscent of the French Emperor’s scent? You’ll find cloves as the heart note of our 902 with Armagnac, blond tobacco and cinnamon and rosemary in our 701 with eucalyptus, coriander and cypress. You may not have a crown, but you can still enjoy a perfume worthy of an emperor.
Find out everything there is to know about Louis XIV and perfume and learn about kings and perfume and the history of perfume by reading our articles.