Art & Culture

#MUSTSEE: Paris, Perfume and Fragonard

Are you passionate about French lifestyle? Do you love designer fashion and the Parisians that embody it? Do you admire France’s free spirit and artistic wealth? Romantic paved streets and vast, busy avenues, remarkable buildings, famous cabarets and museums, not forgetting gastronomy, fashion and perfume… Paris will always be Paris!
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A luxury product par excellence, perfume is the epitome of France’s legendary lifestyle. Set in the heart of Paris, just a stone’s throw from the Opéra Garnier, the Musée du Parfum is a one-of-a-kind, fun and instructive museum concept, bringing to life the making of a mythical luxury object, now part of our everyday life: perfume.

Visitors are invited to follow the manufacturing process from raw materials to harvesting, extraction, distillation, formulation, industrialization and bottling, together, of course, with the creative process and work of the master “noses”.

Harboring an exceptional collection of perfumery-related objets, retracing the history of fragrance from Ancient Egypt to the 20th century, Maison Fragonard exhibits rare items at the museum including kohl pots, pomanders, vinaigrettes, perfume burners, pots-pourris, travel sets, smelling salt bottles and precious flasks… Perfumes from across the ages and trends are found here in their three states: liquid, solid and vaporous. The collections reflect the various aspects of perfume and its different uses in chronological and historical order. Initiated by Jean-François Costa in the Fifties, it is constantly enriched by the Maison’s current directors, Anne, Agnès and Françoise Costa.

 

How It All Began

Shortly after WWI, Eugène Fuchs, a businessman by nature and already captivated by the magic of perfume, decided to set up his own business based on a totally new concept – the direct sale of perfume products to tourists who were just beginning to discover the charms of the French Riviera.

Maison Fragonard was born in 1926. The name Fragonard, after the famous Grasse-born artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), originated from Eugène Fuchs’ desire to pay tribute to the town that had welcomed him and his family and to the refinement of 18thcentury arts. This choice also marked Fuchs’ commitment to instilling his business with traditional values.

The spirit of the Maison was faithfully upheld by the three generations that followed on from Eugène at the helm of the family business. New production and sales units were born in Grasse, Eze and Paris.

It was Jean-François Costa who took on the task of modernizing the firm. A huge art fan, he began bringing together his collections relating to the history of perfumery in the Seventies and launched the first Perfume Museums in Grasse and Paris. This initiative contributed to the already-flourishing prosperity of Fragonard and added a cultural dimension to the company.

Today

Anne, Agnès and Françoise are the masters of Maison Fragonard’s destiny. Like the generations before them, they are keen to make their mark on the company and adapt to new ways of life, and have developed a whole, refined world inspired by Provence or tinted with exotic touches around Fragonard’s perfume products.

“Born into a family of perfumers in Grasse, we also had the good fortune to be the daughters of collectors. Our father, Jean-François Costa, collected 18th-century French objects throughout his entire life, notably paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, a painter at the court of King Louis XV and son of a glove-maker and perfumer from Grasse, who bore the same name as our company. Fascinated by his trade, he was one of the first to collect objects relating to perfume, for which he created several museums, in Grasse and in Paris, to share his treasures with the public,” explain Agnès and Françoise Costa.

Today, Fragonard offers a way to discover the world of fragrances, either by visiting its factories on the French Riviera or its six art museums devoted to the history of perfume, but also the company’s other passions: works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard and antique Provençal jewelry and clothes.

“Our parents passed on to us a taste for beautiful objects, the values of sharing and the expertise of the perfumer; today, we are proud to see this third Parisian fragrance museum open, where the most beautiful objects in our collections have been brought together in an unusual building combining history, culture and modernity. “

The Perfume Museum, located 9 rue Scribe, was the first to open in Paris in 1983. After months of renovation and enlargement, it now houses a collection enriched by numerous acquisitions recently made by Françoise Costa. Unusual, rare and precious, these new works of art are added to an already very complete set, also including objects of curiosity, such as a civet, a trebuchet or objects of production and extraction of perfume plants. Perfumer in Grasse since 1926, Fragonard shares with its visitors its age-old know-how and its unique heritage to tell the story of the perfume from its origins to the present day.

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