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?
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