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For Everyone Since 1709

For Everyone Since 1709

In 1994 Calvin Klein’s CK1 reintroduced a concept to the perfume buying public that had long since been forgotten - the unisex fragrance. Up until the 1930s, with the launches of Pour un Homme de Caron and Dunhill for Men, there weren’t any scents on the market designated as being specifically for boys. Guerlain’s Mouchoir de Monsieur from 1904 and Acqua di Parma’s Colonia released in 1916 were marketed to men; however, both were scents designed to be used on handkerchiefs and not directly onto the skin.

Chanel launched theirs in the 1950s, and then everyone decided to get in on the action. After all, you could make twice as much money if you had one to sell to madame and another to sell to monsieur.

Fun sidenote: Old Spice started its life as a scent sold to women. It came out in 1937 as American Old Spice, before dropping the “American” and switching to the other side of the counter.

When Diptyque and L’Artisan Parfumeur began making perfumes in the late 1960s and 70s, kicking off what we now call niche perfume, they sidelined the traditional gender binaries that had been present in perfume. We used to think that niche perfumery was dreamt up by Serge Lutens during an interpretative dance session in the courtyard of Palais Royal, but, even though he is largely responsible for giving niche perfumery its initial shove into the stratosphere it now resides in, Diptyque and L’Artisan were doing it first.

How niche subverted constructs of gender in perfume was by composing their perfumes around a concept. Now wearing perfume wasn’t about attracting the object of your affection. Fragrances were taking you into the little explored corners of the earth, fantastical, sumptuous palaces or cold, dank crypts. Despite how progressive it was for perfumery as a craft, what niche inadvertently did was take perfume back to its core 1709 roots of being for everyone.

Today we see all sorts of terms utilised to reassure people that they can feel secure in wearing any type of fragrance they’d like to - unisex, gender free, gender neutral and genderless being just a few. But, frankly, in our ever so humble opinion, those words lack something. Fun. Because that perfume you're wearing does have a gender - yours.

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