Monday, January 9, 2012

The Father of Modern Day Perfumery

Mention the name Coty and you have a name synominous with modern day perfumery. Once at the forefront and on everyone’s lips, the company still exists however only serving as a platform for the manufacture and marketing of other brands.

Francois Coty was both a talented perfumer and a brilliant marketer. He was the first to recognize that an attractive bottle was essential to a perfume's success. Originally collaborating with Baccarat for the packaging of his perfumes, Coty's most famous collaboration was with the great ceramist and jeweler René Lalique. Lalique designed the bottles for Coty's early scents, such as Ambre Antique and L'Origan, which became bestsellers. He also designed the labels for Coty perfumes, which were printed on a gold background with raised lettering.

Coty once said; “Give a woman the best product to be made, market it in the perfect flask, beautiful in its simplicity yet impeccable in its taste, ask a reasonable price for it, and you will witness the birth of a business the size of which the world has never seen.” And how true this is!

However at first Coty had a hard time getting his fragrances on the market. So like the true visionary that he was he set off to the department stores of Paris seeking shelf space where his perfumes would get better exposure and sales.

The story is told of how the buyer at a major Parisian department store, Grands Magasins du Louvre, refused to take Coty's new perfume. On leaving the store, Coty let drop a bottle of his fragrance, La Rose Jacqueminot. Striking the hard floor, the Lalique crystal exploded like a bomb, filling the crowded store with the scent of ... La Rose Jacqueminot.

As the scent of La Rose Jacqueminot filled the air and the store a number of frenzied women (hired by Coty?) rushed around the store asking where they could buy this marvelous fragrance. The buyer for the Grands Magasins du Louvre called Coty back and a deal was made. Within days, 500 bottles of La Rose Jacqueminot were sold.

Other stores got the message and hurried to obtain Coty's perfume. By 1914 Coty was a wealthy man and his company was the world's number one seller of perfume.

By the early 70s the company had languished until being taken over by Pfizer and subsequently sold to Joh. A. Benckiser GmbH, which owns it today.

The 70’s were about the last time Coty (the company) actually cared about making real perfumes instead of regurgitating lame formulas for even lamer celebrities. The notes for Complice were left by Francois Coty before his death in 1934, hence the direct reference to him on the bottle and box. The bottle design was also made to evoke the days of yore, when Coty perfumes were poured into Lalique bottles.

Do we thank Monsieur Coty, for what he has done in making fine perfume available to the masses?


  1. I do not know the Styx perfume, but what a curious name--even better than Poison is you think about it--more deadly.

    I would love a bottle of the Chypre, I tend to like all chypre scents.

  2. It's a very nice and interesting post.
    François Coty was very talented.

  3. I did not know about Coty, now since you educated me, I am indeed grateful to him for what he did for us perfume lovers.
    Does the company make any good perfumes any more? I think once Pfizer bought it they must have killed the company and then sold a soul less company to Germans.

  4. Those were the days and Coty with Lalique, impeccable taste and scent!


    Art by Karena

  5. Ah, yes .. . I remember Coty.
    Had no idea about the history -
    great story about his clever faux pas . . .


  6. Oi, adorei o seu blog. Seguindo! Quando tiver um tempinho visita o meu:

  7. A very interesting post, we should be thanking him everyday!

  8. A great posting, David, and the packaging is exquisite. The story about dropping the bottle on the stone floor is wonderful. I heard a similar story (forgive me for lowering the tone a little) about the maker of the first grocery shopping carts. Shoppers weren't using them, so the manufacturer hired many women just to go up and down supermarket isles, posing as shoppers and using the carts!

  9. It's been a while since I've been tending to my blog since entering the fine world of motherhood and domesticity.
    However, I couldn't help but stop by to share this with you. You were the first person who came to mind as you also share my love of the airlines of yesteryear.

    All the best- The Townhouselady

  10. Wish i was in that store when it happened! Thanks for another fun yet educational post David.

  11. perfume is a great way to feel better about yourself!! By better I mean hotter! LOL


  12. i'm always fascinated by your posts, david. to me they're very educational.

  13. Great post, you have a amazing blog.

    Have a great weekend.

    JK ||

  14. Interesting post...again! I think the making of perfumes is one of the most fascinating topics to learn about. And I actually wasn't aware of Mr. Coty until now, so thank you.

  15. Wow, this makes one think truly! I love beautiful bottles and I love being able to purchase nice perfumes at good prices. However I feel like perfume-making could just be another art to add to the list of arts that has been lost -- dumbed down by celebrities & wannabes who stamp their names on something made in another factory. It is definitely food for thought!


  16. Great story..there is something about a beautiful bottle that is intoxicating.


  17. Great post~ major!
    darling where are yooo...

  18. it's great reading your posts, i always learn something new!

  19. cool post! i do love some coty fragrances... even those cheap calgon ones :)

  20. Love the vintage bottles, great to see how a brand develops over time.

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