Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Eau! That’s why it’s called cologne!

It's about time I revealed why this blog is called 'Fancy Cologne'. Well, I based the name on the fact that the term Eau de Cologne, or Kölnisch Wasser as it is called known in German, came from these parts…

The perfumed water was first produced in 1709 by Johann Maria Farina, an Italian perfume maker based in the city of Cologne. He supposedly designed it to smell like the freshness after an Italian downpour. Its freshness was very different to the sickly perfumes around at the time. It is said that Napoleon and many notable European royals were fans of Farina’s unusual perfume.

4711 brandLater that century, Cologne was to give rise to another perfumed water. This one was to become known throughout the world as ‘4711’. Here is its story:

In 1792 a monk presented Mr Willhelm Muelhens and his new bride with a very unusual wedding gift. It was a recipe for how to make ‘aqua mirabilis’: a miracle scented water which was thought to have healing properties. It could be taken as a tonic or applied to the skin. Muelhens quickly realised that the gift was potentially profitable and so he set up a company to produce the special water. The building where Muelhens set up production still stands – see photo below – in Glockengasse Street, Cologne. It is now a museum. The 4711 perfume shop at Glockengasse, Cologne

In 1875 the water from Glockengasse was given the 4711 trademark, which is based on the building’s address: in 1796, during the French occupation of Cologne, all buildings were given a consecutive number and the premises in Glockengasse happened to be numbered 4711.

The precise formula of 4711 remains a mystery, but it is known to contain citrus fruits, lavender and rosemary. It is sold in over 75 countries worldwide. I am afraid that it doesn't do anything for me - but then I like quite sweet heady perfumes. I get the impression that if 4711 were to be created now, it would be marketed for men, due to its citrus smell.

Eventually ‘Eau de Cologne’ became a generic term for any perfumed water containing a concentration of about 2-5% essential oils.

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