Newsletter No. 3-07 (Mar. 2007)   Page 5 of 5 / Sidan 5 av 5. [back to page 1] Arcive/Arkiv: [1] [2] [3]


This newsletter is written in order to spread experiences within the topic of historic textiles and reconstructions. Our ambition is to amuse you and stimulate interest in the 18th Century. Durán Textiles, who is mainly working with museum collections and Royal Castles, was founded in 2002 by CEO and production manager Laila Durán, with co-worker artist Torkel Henriksson who is doing the artworks and preparing the designs for production. Our production is done mostly in India supervised by Duran Textiles inspectors. 
- The articles are mainly written by Laila Durán but we also have help from colleagues and specialists from several museums and universities.  In the future this newsletter will be distributed four times a year and is free of charge. We hope you will enjoy our stories and offers and help us to spread the letter to friends and colleagues. Contact:

Detta nyhetsbrev skrivs för att sprida erfarenheter inom ämnet rekonstruktioner av historiska textiler och 1700-talet. Ambitionen är att roa och stimulera intresset. Durán Textiles har varit verksamt sedan 2002 och arbetar med projekt för Kungliga Slott och museisamlingar i hela Skandinavien. Laila Durán är VD och projektledare, Torkel Henriksson arbetar med originalen och alla förlagor för tryck och väv. På plats i Indien, där de flesta av tygerna produceras, finns Durán Textiles egna inspektörer.
- Artiklarna skrivs huvudsakligen av Laila Durán men vi får även hjälp av kollegor och specialister från olika muséer och universitet.  Nyhetsbrevet kommer i fortsättningen att komma ut fyra gånger per år och är helt kostnadsfritt. Vi hoppas ni ska uppskatta våra artiklar och erbjudanden och även sprida informationen vidare till Era vänner. Kontakt:



The Alchemy of Seduction

Perfume has been a weapon in the art of seduction for centuries. In many cultures the mythical history tells stories of the seductive powers of perfume, which is an expression of the ancient belief that scents are of supernatural origin. The goddess of love, Afrodite, loved fragrances and presented them generously to facilitate seduction in the heavens and on earth. While in the medieval Europe the smell of dirt and filth was considered right. Sweet fragrances could only be the work of the devil. In spite the church fury it was the monasteries that would show the way to damnation - there were the experts on herbs and their dressing. The worlds first laboratory of fragrances were built in the Dominican monastery Santa Maria Novelle in Florence 1508 and it exists until this very day. At first fragrances were produced as powder or ointment so when the colognes came on the market in the early 17th century it was a great change. The monasteries would launch the new product as a miracle tonic – aqua mirabilis – and it was recommended for all kind of diseases.


Rosewater was an accessible article for the middle classes and was used to perfume both rooms and garments.

- Distilled water 1,900- unit of weight
- Concentrated alcohol (90-91%)- 9 unit of weight
- Rose oil- 1 unit of weight.

Mix rose oil with alcohol and add water.

In Versailles Louise XIV (1638-1715) demanded a new composition of perfume every day by his perfumer. The entire court would then wear it, known as – la cour parfumeé. The king grew with time so tired, and even sick from the strong fragrances, that he came to hate all perfumes. The only scent he would accept was light orange blossom water. His successors mistress Madame de Pompadour loved the fresh “Portugal water” and in the 17th century Marie Antoinette made the “Kölner water” popular - and the colognes had found its market.

It was the Italian perfumer named Giovanni Marina Farina (1685-1766) who launched the first Eau de Cologne in 1709. The original scent was a mix of alcohol and lemon, which was used only as perfume.
Napoleon (1769-1821) who was a big enthusiast of Farina Eau de Cologne used 120 bottles a month (!) while his wife the empress Josephine – la folle de musc – was crazy about musk. She used heavy exotic scents like “patchouli” and “chypre” and her tastes in fragrances became very popular in France after the revolution.


15 ml perfume alcohol
8 drops of vanilla
5 drops of benzoin
6 drops of umbra

Measure the alcohol in a glass, add the rest of the ingredients one by one, and stir carefully.
Pour the mixture into a bottle and seal it well. This can be used as it is or as a base for a perfume.

The stories of the perfumes of empress Josephine made oriental fragrances impossible in England and Germany. The anti French atmosphere made scents like musk, umbra, sobet and leather impossible to wear in Europe at the beginning of the 19th Century. They were not “only French” they also had an animal origin. These could arouse sexual excitement, cause damage to the nervous system and even originate “feministic ideas”.

Perfume is really seductive, and sometimes such a danger to society that those who are in power feel the need to intervene. In 1770 the English parliament established a law: “all women, irrespective of age, social position, profession or education, virgin, spinster or widow, that from this day on, seduces or tempt any of His Majesty the Kings subjects in to marriage using fragrances, cosmetics, cosmetic water, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron corsets, crinolines, padded hips or high heel shoes, shall be punished according to the law of witch craft or similar crimes and the marriage shall be annulled”.

It was not only musty odours people wanted to eliminate with perfumes. It was with “miasma” or “malaria” -bad air- that the medical profession had explained all kinds of diseases the past hundred years, including the plague, and people did what they could to protect themselves from the fumes. It was particularly the night air that was considered dangerous. Also water was harmful, it weakened the skin and opened pores so the plague could penetrate the skin.

However in the mid 18th Century perfumed baths became fashionable among the middle and upper class. As Greeks and Romans had done several hundred years before the water was now prepared with milk or grinded almonds, or even champagne for its lustful refreshing effects. As an erotic stimulating bath the recommendation would be: a dry bath on a bed of flowers in a warm tube or a bath of hot water with plentiful of violets and wild thyme.
For baths with a calming effect: hot water with cedar, camomile, sage, marjoram, rose and sandalwood.


Mix 2 dl of bitter salt with1/5 dl each of sea salt and bicarbonate. Add 3 ml of ethereal oils. Stir well and keep in an air proof jar. Leave the salt for a week before using it.

During the end of 19th Century the perfume industry started to adjust the production from exclusivity for a few to affordable luxury for many. In 1911 the fashion designer Paul Poiret launched a perfume and set the trend for the future. Later in the fifties most of the big fashion brand had their own perfume label. Today we can visit the cosmetic departments and try new fragrances every season. Millions are spent on marketing, tempting us to try new wonderful combinations of fragrances for our every mood and occasion.

Written by Laila Durán

Essence and Alchemy. By Mandy Aftel.



Original Eau de Cologne.

Porcelain essence bottle 1753-1758.
Origin Great Britain.

Bottles of some notable commercial perfumes 1919-1992.


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