“I have discovered a scent that reminds me of a spring morning in Italy, of mountain narcissus, orange blossom just after the rain. It gives me great refreshment, strengthens my senses and imagination…”
In 1708 Johann Maria Farina chose these words to describe his newly-created scent to his brother. In the following decades Farina used both his exceptional marketing savvy and his commitment to excellence to ensure his blend would become the most famous scent of the 18th century. The scent, named Eau De Cologne for his adopted city-on-the-Rhine, made him one of the most successful international businessmen of the Rocco period, is still in production 300 years later and has inspired countless imitations, including the famed no. 4711.
Johann Marina Farina was born in 1685 in Santa Maria Maggiore, Italy. For centuries his Piedmont ancestors had been aromatiseurs—specialists in distilling pure alcohol from wine, which is used as the base of perfume. Farina showed an early talent for identifying and blending scents but the family decided he was to be apprenticed to his uncle, a merchant of fine goods in the Netherlands. While working with his uncle, he not only traveled to the Netherlands, but also traveled to Genoa, London, Rome, Versailles, Rotterdam, Madrid, Vienna and Constantinople. All the while he collected scents and refined his sense of smell. Later in life, he was said to have a ‘nose’ so well-developed he could identify a person’s country, region and occupation with his eyes closed.
In 1714, he settled with his brother in the city of Cologne. Cologne was a free imperial city and the Rhine was an important trade route navigable year-round—perfect for an ambitious entrepreneur. There, he took up the only occupation allowed foreigners: the sale of luxury or “French” goods. But he didn’t forget his primary passion and with every sale he gave away cloth doused with his signature scent.
Regular bathing at the time was uncommon and to cover the stench the wealthy carried balls doused in heavy essences such as deer musk or essential plant oils. Farina wanted to offer a better product…a light scent that would transport the wearer to a sunny, warm clime. According to the Farina museum, no one before this time had attempted to create a scent so complex, so light and so consistent. Although since 1709 only 30 people have ever known the secret recipe, Eau de Cologne contains notes of Bergamot and grapefruit among others. Without synthetics, scents could vary from harvest to harvest, so to achieve consistency, Farina insisted the cuvees and monoessences be reconstituted with each vintage to match his reference sample. He also demanded quality. In one letter, he chastised a supplier of bergamot for buying from a farmer who, from scent alone, Farina knew was not properly watering his trees. Another sign of his obsessive commitment to quality: Eau de Cologne had to mature for two years in barrels made of wood from Lebanon cedars before being bottled for sale.
His passion paid. Eau De Cologne enjoyed wide popularity among the noble in both the 18th and 19th centuries. Of the scent, Voltaire said in 1742, “At last a fragrance that inspires the spirit.” And Goethe is said to have kept a bowl of Eau De Cologne-scented cloth on his writing desk for inspiration. Eau du Cologne became so valued, during Emperor Charles VI’s long struggle to ensure his daughter Maria Therese (Mother of Marie Antoinette) would be crowned Empress on this death, he sent each head of 36 noble houses a flacon of Eau Du Cologne. By 1736, the cost of two flacons (220 milliliters) equaled the monthly salary of a church official or ½ a civil servant’s annual salary. Napoleon is said to have had boots made to fit a flacon, so he could ‘refresh’ at any time. In addition to those mentioned, the books of the family Farina include the names of Madame DuBarry, Honore de Balzac, Alexander I of Russia, Maria Theresa of Austria, King Louis XV of France, Mozart and Queen Victoria. So if you use Eau De Cologne while attending our house party, your excellent choice will place you among the most refined (& sometimes notorious) of company.
Note: Thank you to The Farina Fragrance Museum for their helpful assistance as well as permission to use their photo. If Dashing Duchess readers have the chance to visit Cologne (or Koln in German), I highly recommend a visit to the museum, housed in the same location Charles VI’s courtiers visited to purchase those 36 flacons:
Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-Platz, or in English, John Maria Farina opposite Jülich’s Square.
Greetings, dear readers! Today I’d like to welcome the fabulous Ella Quinn to The Dashing Duchesses. But first, a little introduction. Ella’s a bit of a world-traveler; she’d lived in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe and she and her husband now live St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She is a member of the Romance Writers of American, The Beau Monde and Hearts Through History and is represented by Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency. Ella has been very busy working on her debut series The Marriage Game for Kensington Books. The first book, The Seduction of Lady Phoebe is available now, with six more books to follow.
Welcome, Ella! Could you tell us a little about The Seduction of Lady Phoebe? Lady Phoebe and Lord Marcus met just before Marcus was to leave for the West Indies, where his father was banishing him. They fell in love, but they were both very young, and Marcus behaved badly, destroying Phoebe’s confidence in herself when it came to men. Eight years later, he’s back and still wants to marry her, but first he must overcome her distrust of herself and him.
Ah, I do love a reunion story! And, how fascinating to include a hero who has experienced the West Indies. We duchesses love our historicals. What do you find intriguing about history? That what we know isn’t necessarily accurate. I love Jane Austen, but she lived in one strata of a much broader society. Even her views of the ton were not the be all and end all. For example, Mary Wollstonecraft’s views on the emancipation of women were so popular, that a couple of other writers felt the need to try to rein in women. To complicate matters, during the Victorian era men in particular, destroyed many letters and other records of their Regency parents and Georgian grandparents.
Can you imagine all the interesting information that’s been lost to time? In your research, have you come across any particular fact that stands out as interesting, bizarre or thrilling? I don’t know about bizarre, but over fifty percent of children were born before 9 months of their parents’ marriage. Some would like you to think that it must have been the lower classes, but since birth records were required to be kept until much later, the only people really keeping records were the upper and middle classes.
More Regency and Georgians behaving scandalously! Any links that you saved upon researching this novel? Yes, I have a wonderful link on seasonal foods that were eaten during the Regency I use it a lot. Also, I discovered the online etymology dictionary.
I love the online etymology dictionary, and Teresa Thomas Bohannon’s in-season food reference is an instant favorite. Let’s talk hands-on research (gloved hands, of course). Have you ever gone on a research trip for your books? I lived in England and Europe, so I was pretty knowledgeable about the generalities. Still some things have changed, so I had to go see the old road going through the Fernpass for Desiring Lady Caro, book # 4 of The Marriage Game. Also for book #5, Pursuing Miss Eugénie Villaret, I had to go Tortola and find a destroyed church.
A destroyed church in Tortola sounds like an atmospheric setting. In your travels, what did you love, hate or gasp over? I loved that the old road was still there. In Tortola, I hated that the church had been allowed to be destroyed.
Have you ever considered writing something other than a historical? No, I don’t think I could write contemporaries. I don’t even watch TV. I do have an idea for a time-travel, but again, the Regency would be involved.
Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp? That family is important. Love doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Most of us have family or friends who influence us, or even actively interfere for good or bad.
Why don’t we close with some revelations about the writing and publishing process? What was one of the most surprising things you learned? I was a little surprised by the process of publication. It wasn’t until after I had an agent that I discovered most agents only take between 1-5 new clients a year.
Thank you so much for joining us on the Dashing Duchesses! It has been a pleasure. Before you go, would you share a teaser with our readers?
“Have you much experience in this sphere?” Her knight moved a bit closer.
“I believe I stay well informed as to the issues. When I visit my aunt and uncle I attend all the political dinners and other entertainments.” When she glided nearer to him, a hurry of spirits coursed through her.
He narrowed his eyes curiously. “What made you seek out the library?”
“I was avoiding someone.” Phoebe found herself even closer to him and wanting to be in his arms again. His deep, soft voice was like a warm wave, drawing her in. Did male sirens exist?
“I see.” He closed the distance a little more.
She searched his face. Barely a foot separated them. If only he would reach out to her. “You were in Littleton for the fight last week.”
“Yes, I attended with a friend,” he replied, his tone, intimate.
Phoebe tried to steady her thudding heart. “I remember your voice. You rescued me from the young man pounding on my chamber door and spent the night guarding me.”
She drew a ragged breath. Why was it so hard to breathe? “You didn’t want to be thanked. You have now saved me twice from importuning young men.”
His gaze seemed to focus even more intently on her. “Yes, I took him from your door. I thought, at the time, I didn’t need to be thanked.” His lips curled into a provocative smile. “I may have been mistaken. You may thank me, if you wish.”
Lovely! Thank you, Ella. Now, dear readers, if it pleases you, leave a comment for Ella and she will graciously bestow an e-copy of The Seduction of Lady Phoebe on one lucky winner.
Please welcome Regency Author Bronwen Evans! She’s here to share some background on the Regency Wager:
I love a good Regency romance, mainly because I love the dashing rakes of the early 1800’s. Obviously having read a lot of Regency romances over the years, I became intrigued by the gentlemen clubs such as Whites and Brookes and what went on in these male bastions.
I’m sure all manner of revelry and drinking and more salacious activities occurred. But one I find mentioned more frequently in Regency romances is ‘the wager’.
I’ve read many stories where wagers were laid at Whites in the infamous betting book. I did some research and found some ridiculous and downright cruel wagers, placed by men who were obviously bored, were sadists and had far too much money. Read the rest of this entry »
The Duchesses are thrilled to receive Regency Author Bronwen Evans for what promises to be a delightful morning call.
Last year, Bronwen made her debut with Invitation to Ruin, an eloquently and expressively written book I adored. I wasn’t the only one. Invitation to Ruin was given a coveted 4.5 star review by Romantic Times Book Reviews and nominated for Best First Historical by RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards.
Duchess Wendy: Welcome, Duchess Bronwen. Tell us a little about your latest releases.
Duchess Bronwyn Evans: Thanks for having me here today, ladies. I’ve had a few releases in the last two months. May 2012 saw the release of my second Regency romance with Kensington Brava, Invitation to Scandal.
Invitation to Scandal is the story about love and honor and what happens when a man has to choose between the two. Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore’s late father was accused of treason and so Rufus lives his life focused on atoning for his father’s sin, while trying to restore his family’s honor. He hides his true self from the world in order to gain approval for his mother and sister. He sees the world in black and white. So, when he finally falls in love, what happens when he’s forced to choose between the woman he loves and clearing his father’s name?