The Osmotheque of Versailles contains more than 4,000 scents from the mid-1800s until now, archiving scents and recipes in a library of scent. Companies submit ingredients for their latest perfume launches, which is then added to the archives to create a living, historical collection for perfumers and enthuasiasts alike. While certain ingredients may be sent to the archive, companies will keep the complete formula confidential for proprietary purposes. Perfume formula lists can include anywhere from 20-40 chemical ingredients and the dosage amounts for each in order to make that specific fragrance.
“The Osmotheque is an archive, a world archive of perfumes. It’s a living archive because we have old perfumes and also perfumes which were very recently launched on the market,” explained Patricia De Nicolai, Parisian perfumer.
In December 2016, Grand Musée du Parfum offered attendees an opportunity to learn the history of perfume. More of an exhibit than an archive, the Parisian museum showcases more than 60 scents and offers attendees the chance to create their own perfumed business card. Both the Paris and Versailles exhibits offer a historical account of perfumery, as well as introducing the ancient and sacred craft to an ever-curious public.
Preserving History in a Bottle
Similar to a museum that houses rare paintings, perfume preservation undergoes similar storage conditions. The fragrances are stored under special lighting and temperature conditions for longevity.
“It’s a heritage that shouldn’t disappear. The perfume’s juice will get spoiled, deteriorate and disappear one day or another. On the other hand what remains is the formula, the perfumer’s creation,” said Segolene Rolland, perfume evaluator.