Please understand that this website is not affiliated with any of the perfume companies written about here in any way, it is only a reference page and repository of information for collectors and those who have enjoyed the classic fragrances of days gone by.

One of the goals of this website is to show the present owners of the various perfumes and cologne brands that are featured here how much we miss the discontinued classics and hopefully, if they see that there is enough interest and demand, they will bring back these fragrances!

Please leave a comment below (for example: of why you liked the fragrance, describe the scent, time period or age you wore it, who gave it to you or what occasion, any specific memories, what it reminded you of, maybe a relative wore it, or you remembered seeing the bottle on their vanity table), who knows, perhaps someone from the company brand might see it.

Vintage Perfumes For Sale

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The History of Furs & Perfuming Them

The wearing of furs goes back to prehistoric man, when furs were the only means of clothing and keeping the body warm. Over the millennia, after modern clothing was worn, the only wearers of furs were the wealthy. So in turn the wearing of furs meant richness, opulence, status and power. During the Ancient Egyptian civilization, only priests were allowed to wear furs, in this case, leopard, which were perfumed with incense.

In the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was forbidden to wear furs in Church until 1127. In Tudor England, furs were thought to benefit the health. Furs were political and gifts for royalty, lynx and ermines would trim the capes of kings and queens, with Russian sables the most valuable. Fur lined slippers and pumps were common amongst the very wealthy. Even the original story of Cinderella had the slippers lined with fur (vair) and not made up of glass (verre) as told in a mistranslation. During the 16th & 17th centuries, the owning of furs and type of furs were governed by strict laws based on the man’s estate and wealth.

In the 1700s, fur muffs were often perfumed. Made up of fashionable white furs such as Artic fox and ermine, these were the furs of choice for upper class ladies. Until the mid 1800s, furs were mainly used as trimmings on dresses or other clothing. During the Victorian era, the wearing of fur coats, stoles, hats and cloaks was in style as the newly prosperous middle class was able to afford these luxuries. Sealskin coats, mink, fox and dyed muskrat coats were the most desired. Fur trimming was used on hat decoration as well as on muffs and boots . These fur lined carriage boots were called “Juliets” and were donned for traveling in carriages, upon arrival they were slipped off and replaced with an evening shoe.

During the early 1900s, perfuming the furs was a way to mask the natural odor of furs, and to mask the scent of the mustiness of old furs. Perfumes were a way to emphasize the luxury of wearing furs. Furs retain the scent of their owners for years. If you’ve ever bought a vintage fur coat and smelled the perfume of the previous owner, it might strike up a small fantasy of the events in which the fur was worn and the carefully selected perfume that was applied.

A 1925 newspaper ad suggested that in order to offset odors peculiar to furs, experiments are advised with the stronger perfumes containing spices, herbs, and flowers until one is attained that counteracts the odor of the fur. But for ermine, white jasmine is said to be the best. For caracul, Persian lamb, astrakhan, and the general run of furs, violet is used with the happiest of results. .

I have read in a 1906 cookbook that had household hints in it that mentioned to clean furs with a dry shampoo, rub powdered orris root and cornmeal into the fur, leave it on overnight then shake it out in the morning, the result was a delicately perfumed fur again. A New York Times article from 1910 mentions that “there are girls who like to have their furs scented, because most pelts are apt to have a disagreeable odors, particularly in warm weather. To pour perfume on them is vandalism, for they are injured upon contact with alcohol. So sachets should be slipped between the linings, and the furs when storing, should be rolled in wool saturated with the perfume.” The sachets that they speak of are made up of “perfumed chamois”.


Companies such as Les Fourrures Max, Les Fourrures Weil and Les Fourrures Blondel entered the perfume making business following other luxury goods manufacturers such as Louis Vuitton.

Long established fashion furriers, Les Fourrures Max, who were well known for their sumptuous and avant-garde creations entered the scene in 1925 with Le Parfum Max. Created by the firms proprietor Madame Andrée Leroy.

In 1927, Marcel Weil of Les Fourrures Weil created Parfums Weil with their advertisements of “perfumes for furs”. These were based on a direct request from a regular client for a perfume suitable for wearing on furs. These were their first commercial perfumes that were advertised would guarantee not to harm the furs.

In 1928 the three perfumes inspired by fur themes were launched, Chinchilla Royal, Hermine (ermine), Une Fleur pour Fourrure (A Flower for Furs) and Zibeline (sable) were favorites from the start. All of these perfumes were created by Claude Fraysse.

Zibeline is described as a floral chypre intended to recall the steppes and massive oak forests of Imperial Russia, where the finest sable furs were imported.

Chinchila Royal, described as rich with jasmine and roses to evoke the splendour of the Persian and Indian Empires. The short tailed chinchilla, also known as the Royal Chinchilla was endangered and a ban on hunting them was created in 1929, although not fully enforced until 1983. Many chinchillas were imported from South America, India, China and Persia.

Hermine was intended to symbolize tenderness and virginity, it was heavy with the sweet flowers of the Pacific Isles. The winter ermine has been used in art as a symbol of purity or virginity. In the Renaissance era, legend had it that an ermine would die before allowing its pure white coat to be besmirched. When it was being chased by hunters, it would supposedly turn around and give itself up to the hunters rather than risk soiling itself. Henry Peacham's Emblem 75, which depicts an ermine being pursued by a hunter and two hounds, is entitled "Cui candor morte redemptus" or "Purity bought with his own death." Peacham goes on to preach that men and women should follow the example of the ermine and keep their minds and consciences as pure as the legendary ermine keeps its fur .In some areas of Japan, because of its adorable appearance and somewhat elusive nature it is still considered a symbol of good luck. Hermine was discontinued in 1940.

In 1930, the first Weil eau de toilettes debuted, Chinchilla and Zibeline. Zibeline went on to have a very successful future with the advent of the Secret de Venus Huile line of bath & body oils . Chinchilla was discontinued in 1963.

By 1928, the uber exclusive Les Fourrures Blondel brought their perfume Le Sauvage (The Savage) onto the scene. The perfume was contained in an elegant Baccarat crystal flacon with a unique design etched on the front, it depicted an Native American trapper with a recently killed fox slung over his shoulder, while behind them an elegant Parisienne is shown wearing a lavish fox stole. By today’s standards, this objectionable design would cause an outrage. Later, Blondel launched other perfumes without a fur theme, they were also located in the same building as the Myon Perfumery at 11 place de la Madeleine in Paris.

The suitable perfumes for fur wearing are the pure parfum extraits. Since the early 1900s, furriers have advised against applying perfume that contains alcohol to your furs. The alcohol tends to dry your fur out.

Use this information at your own discretion.

Furs are very susceptible to moth damage, but no one likes the smell of mothballs, it seems to last forever, Instead hang your fur coat on a padded hanger (not in plastic--plastic attracts moisture--a no no for fur) or roll it up in white cotton sheet and keep it in a box filled with cedar chips under your bed or in a cedar chest. Or take it to your furrier and let them keep them locked up in their refrigerated storage.

Fur perfumes have heady ingredients such as vanilla,ambergris and balsams, and you should avoid saturating your astrakhan, mink and fox furs, especially if they are white as they can be stained. Instead, perfume the lining of your fur. Suede and leather can also be stained by perfumes. White fur tends to turn yellow then brown stains where perfume has been applied and left to dry.


  • The Art of Perfume by Christie Mayer Lefkowith, 1994
  • The Progress Meatless Cook Book and Valuable Recipes and Suggestions For Cleaning Clothing, Hat, Gloves, House Furnishings, Walls and Woodwork And All Kinds of Helps (sic) For The Household by Lotta M. Lake. Copyright 1911
  • Emblem 75 by Henry Peacham, 1612
  • The New York Times, Uses For Perfume, December 25, 1910
  • Scentzilla website
  • Perfume Shrine website
  • The Scented Salamander website

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be subject to approval by a moderator. Comments may fail to be approved or may be edited if the moderator deems that they:
contain unsolicited advertisements ("spam")
are unrelated to the subject matter of the post or of subsequent approved comments
contain personal attacks or abusive/gratuitously offensive language