From Egypt the narrative shifts through the mosques of Islam to the Renaissance and the 1600s, the century of plagues, all the way to the Orientalism that charmed 19th-century Europe and the great lady of fashion, Coco Chanel, in the 20th century. The path concludes with the most coveted essence of our time, the oud (or Agarwood) over which producers do battle, paying outrageous prices.

The pavilion on the history of perfumes and their classification investigates the presence of perfume in human history and the reasons behind the timeless appeal of this product. Curator Elena Vosnaki, a perfume historian, has outlined an itinerary in twelve sections, twelve stops from the time of ancient Egypt to the present, narrating anecdotes, personalities and discoveries that have changed and enriched the history of fragrances.

For each of the sections of the historical itinerary the olfactory curator Gérald Ghislain has created an original scent, while a golden table presents eight essences that represent the eight great families of fragrances (Hesperidic, Aromatic, Floral Fruity, Powdery, Aldehydic, Woody, Chypre, Oriental), for an experiential voyage that is useful to recognize and classify perfumes.

Twelve historical sections and twelve perfumes

2000 BC The Fragrant Pharaohs. Scent Mystery of the Pyramids
Resin, mystique and sweet incense for the dead assuage the gods Anubis and Osiris. The fragrant smoke rises in the air like hands in prayer.

600 AD Abbasid Caliphate, Bagdad. Scent Eternal Beauty Elixir
A patch of rosemary for remembrance, fresh citrus and lush jasmine make the heart grow fonder.

1340 Renaissance Beauty. Scent The Anima in the Kasbah
Musk and exotic leathers on the Silk Road, the dry, warm scent of the caravan flies on the magic carpet.

1630 Protection from the Plague. Scent Eau de Protection
Bitter herbs, camphor, acid and spice, those are the things protecting men who are wise.

1685 On the High Seas. Scent Grey Pearl of the Ocean
Bodies lying down on the beach, their skin melting under the sun, their skin salty with the kiss of the waves.

1800 Imperial Style. Scent Miracle Water
An Italian spring morning when, after a shower of rain, daffodils and orange blossoms release their scent.

1862 Visions of the East. Scent Mille Feuille
Melt-in-the-mouth vanilla surrounds you in comfort, like falling down on a goose down duvet.

1917 Out of the Trenches. Scent Cyprus Forest
The sun through the foliage lights upon trumped undergrowth…fallen leaves, soil and warmth mingle in the air.

1921 Eau Couture. Scent Eau Couture
A whiff of soap, of flowers, of wax, elegant chic of ladies carrying a capitonné clutch.

1956 Golden Age of Perfumery. Scent Good Luck Charm
Lily sings with its high pitched voice, the song of May in the verdant countryside.

1992 Sweet & Naughty. Scent Dangerous Complicity
A Lolita bats her eyelashes and puts her narrow Florentine hands together, thinking impure thoughts.

2015 Eternal Orient. Scent Immortal Wood
The king of fragrance wears his djellaba in gold, studded with cognac diamonds. Bitter and oily whiffs of wood, of resin, of mold, of nuts.


Eight olfactory families exemplified by eight perfumes

A useful, easy guide to understand how to perceive fragrances with greater awareness.
The perfumes are creations by Gérald Ghislain.

  • Hesperidic: Refreshing, effervescent, tart, juicy, exhilarating
    scent 1873 Colette
  • Aromatic: herbaceous, rustic, rejuvenating, sinus-clearing
    scent 1828 Jules Vernes
  • Floral Fruity: youthful, succulent, ripe, sweet, exciting
    scent 1804 Georges Sand
  • Powdery: soft, downy, makeup-like, feminine
    scent 1904 Madame Butterfly
  • Aldehydic: soap, wax, citrus, fizzy, dressy
    scent 1831 Norma
  • Woody: austere, sturdy, assertive, tar, bittersweet
    scent 1740 Marquis de Sade
  • Chypre: moss, polished, dramatic, sophisticated, undergrowth, tannins
    scent Noir Pachouli
  • Oriental: Opulent, mystical, velvety, sensuous, vanilla
    scent Ambre 114