Why Marie-Antoinette wore perfume...

Elena-Maria answers this question today on her blog...

By the time the Bourbons came into power in France, perfume had not only risen to an art, it was regarded as medical necessity. Despite the opulence of the palaces of France, they lacked indoor plumbing. According to historians who somehow report to know such things, it was not uncommon to find human excrement in the elegant carpeted stairways of the great palaces. Piles could be found in hallways and corridors. With bathing a rarity and a rather liberal interpretation of the word rest room, the world of the French court stank.

If the English are laughing at this last statement allow me to remind the reader that James I stank so bad that his wife Anne of Denmark found it difficult to be with him in bed. This my account for the birth of only 4 children.

In a related story a phial of Marie-Antoinette's own perfume was discovered, has been analyzed and remanufactured. From a 2007 Washington Post article we read "When Francis Kurkdjian, one of France's premier perfumers, set out to re-create a fragrance of Marie Antoinette, his greatest fear was that it would stink.

After all, he reasoned, the 21st-century nose might have little tolerance for the potent potions that the famous queen and her royal court used to mask the smells of their opulent but odoriferous 18th-century environs at the Chateau de Versailles.

Last month, Sillage de la Reine -- "In the Wake of the Queen" -- an amber essence of jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, iris, cedar and sandalwood was released for public sale. The deluxe version, 8.5 ounces in numbered Baccarat crystal flasks, costs $10,500. At that price, it's kept in a locked vault, available for purchase only via the Internet. For aristocratic pretenders with less princely pockets, a crystal phial containing just under an ounce is available for $450 in the chateau gift shop."

I do not know how many they have sold thus far, but at those prices it is not likely to be picked up by a tourist as a souvenir in the Versailles gift shop.

Thanks to Elena-Maria (Elena-Maria-Antoinette!) for this article.


No comments: