It was Mrs. Bonaparte, aka Josephine, who turned the general on to scent. Left to his own devices, Napoleon might have preferred the smell of gunpowder in the morning, but he was besotted by Josephine and perfume was – civilizing.
It is something of a stretch to say that he brought perfume back into fashion. Those who survived the Terror needed some cheering up, and if that meant champagne and perfume, so be it. He certainly did nothing to stop it, as a more dour sort of dictator might have done. The coast was officially clear, the old royal perfume house of Houbigant returned to Paris, and the good times began to roll once more.
M. Kerleo’s career was spent behind a curtain, choreographing some of the finest prestidigitation of French perfumery. He was the man in the booth at Jean Patou for some thirty two years and in that time he not only kept Joy at its ebullient best, but also created the enigmatic 1000, the satiny Sublime, and what many consider among the best masculines ever created, Patou Pour Homme.
These are only the best known of his works. He also orchestrated a revival of the most famous Patou scents for the Ma Collection series in the 1980’s including the green floral Caline, and the much praised gourmand/chypre Que Sais Je. He did Ma Liberte in 1987, and Eau de Patou, Voyageur, also Patou Forever. He composed a number of scents for Lacoste, including Land, and the first perfume for Yohji Yamamoto, simply called Yohji. He won the Prix des Parfumeurs in 1965, and the Prix Francois Coty in 2001. He is still the honorary president of the Society of French Perfumers, and the founder of the museum of historically significant perfumes, the Osmotheque in Versailles. It’s quite some record, you must admit. Continue reading