A Wealth of Fragrance Packaging

The International Museum of Fragrance in Grasse, France, offers a remarkable look at packaging through the ages.

By Jamie Matusow, Editor 12.05.14
During our recent trip to Monaco for the Luxe Pack show, Beauty Packaging’s publisher Jay Gorga and I took advantage of the timing to visit the world renowned Musee International de la Perfumerie, located in Grasse, France, the centuries-old global center of fragrance production.

Following a steep climb via winding paths and neighborhood streets, we reached the quaint town square and were rewarded with the sight of the golden-colored building draped in vines, an ode to Provence and its remarkable qualities of color and light—the ideal environment for growing a plethora of trees, flowers and herbs, including olive trees, jasmine, lavender, jonquils and cornflowers—many of the essences of fragrance.

Even today, with fragrance production spread throughout the world, Grasse still accounts for 10% of global fragrance turnover, and employs nearly 3,000 people in the industry.

In a carefully restored multi-level building that rises out of the cliff, visitors to the museum have the opportunity to learn about the history of fragrance production. For Jay and me, of course, the highlight was roaming through the many floors of exhibits and getting the chance to see fragrance packaging ranging from ancient Greek and Roman examples to modern day coffrets and exquisite flacons. Along the way were also examples of cosmetic packages, travel kits and personal care products.

While we viewed many examples of early glass and porcelain vials, it wasn’t until the latter half of the 19th Century that perfumes were sold in specially designed bottles. This marked the beginning of the major perfume houses, creating strong ties between the fragrance creator and the glassmaker.

Displayed (above) is a slide show of some of the memorable bottles, vials and packages that we noted during our visit.
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