perfume


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

perfume

perfume, aroma produced by the essential oils of plants and by synthetic aromatics. The burning of incense that accompanied the religious rites of ancient China, Palestine, and Egypt led gradually to the personal use of perfume. In Greece, where flower scents were first developed, the use of perfume became widespread. In Rome perfume was used extravagantly. During the Middle Ages the Crusaders brought the knowledge of perfumery back to Europe from the East. It was at this time that animal substances were first added as fixatives—musk, ambergris, civet, and castoreum (from the beaver). Italian perfumers settled in Paris (after 1500), and thereafter France became the leader of the industry. After 1500 scents became fashionable; both men and women wore an ornamental pomander or pouncet-box (dry-scent box), which hung from the waist. Each wealthy household had a “still room” where perfume was prepared by the women. Since the early 19th cent., chemists have analyzed many essential oils and have produced thousands of synthetics, some imitating natural products and others yielding new scents. Most perfumes today are blends of natural and synthetic scents and of fixatives that equalize vaporization of the blends and add pungency. The ingredients are usually combined with alcohol for liquid scents and with fatty bases for many cosmetics. Leading producers of perfume oils are the East Indies, Réunion island, and S France. Bulgaria and Turkey are noted for attar of roses, Algeria for geranium oils, Italy for citrus oils, and England for lavender and mint. The great fashion houses of Paris are renowned for perfumes that carry their names. See eau de Cologne.

Bibliography

See E. Sagarin, The Science and Art of Perfumery (2d ed. 1955); R. Genders, Perfume through the Ages (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Perfume

(pop culture)

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, one of the most unique of modern vampire novels, was released in Germany as Das Perfum in 1985. Its author was Patrick Susskind (b. 1949) The novel concerns one Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an eighteenth-century Frenchman born with no body odor of his own, who discovers that he possesses a most developed sense of smell. As he gains a wider range of olfactory experiences, he was drawn to a young woman with a beautiful odor. He kills her attempting to capture it.

Grenouille eventually found his way to the great perfume maker Baldini of Paris, who begins giving him a formal education in creating perfumes. Grenouille later perfects his art, capturing the essence of various flowering plants while at Grasse, the center of the perfume industry. But his goal is to devise a technique for capturing the essence of humans, and when he succeeds, he concocts a scheme to make the ultimate perfumes from the combined essences of a number of beautiful women. This action of stealing the life essence of his victims is essentially vampiric in nature. The end result, the perfume, also makes him capable of using it to manipulate those around him, most notably those who arrest, try and convict him and then the crowd which gathers to watch his execution. In the end, all, including the father of one of his victims, declare him innocent. He, however, remains an empty shell of a human being.

The novel was successful internationally and has remained in print in several languages. In 2006, a film adaptation, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, was released. Co-written and directed by Tom Tykwer, it starred Ben Whishaw and Dustin Hoffman.

Sources:

Suskind, Patrick. Perfume. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986. 255 pp.

Peterson, Cassandra see: Elvira

The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Perfume

 

alcohol or alcohol-water solutions of mixtures of odoriferous substances, perfume compositions, and infusions used as aromatizers. Perfume compositions are made from more than 300 natural and synthetic odoriferous substances obtained from plant, animal, and chemical raw materials. Plant substances, or volatile oils (from steam distillation or extracts), are used alone as scents (rose, coriander, sandalwood oils), as raw materials for making synthetic essences (coriander, sassafras, and anise), and in the form of infusions (patchouli leaves, coriander seeds, or oak moss). Animal substances (amber, civet, and musk) are used only in the form of infusions.

On the average, a perfume composition contains 15 to 60 or more essences. Crystalline essences are first dissolved in one of the liquid nonvolatile components. Depending on the type of raw material, the process of extracting the essence lasts from several hours to a year. The raw material is treated with alcohol two or three times for more complete extraction of the essence. The perfumes themselves are prepared in hermetically sealed devices or cisterns equipped with mechanical mixers or pumps; in some devices the mixing is done by bubble flasks. Water and a small amount of water-soluble dye are added to some types of perfumes after the composition is dissolved. Proteinaceous substances, waxes, and other impurities that are insoluble in alcohol precipitate out during solution of the essences. Finished perfumes are poured into flasks in vacuum pouring machines. The entire operation of finishing the flasks (sealing, labeling, testing the seal, and packing) is done on automated machines or with the aid of special conveyor devices.

The persistence of a perfume odor on cotton-textile fabric must be no less than 30 hours. Perfumes usually contain 10-25 percent composition, although some contain up to 50 percent. Perfumes are divided into two groups according to their odors: flower perfumes, which simulate the odor of one or more flowers, and perfumes created by the imagination of the perfumers. Perfumes may have a light, delicate odor (Lirika, Lei’, or Ellada) or a strong odor (Kamennyi Tsvetok, Chaika, Yaroslavna). Perfume should be protected from the action of sunlight. It is guaranteed to keep for 12 months from the time of manufacture; perfumes of the “deluxe” group are guaranteed for 15 months.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Then, with a kind farewell, the gentle Fairy floated upward through the sunny air, smiling down upon the child, until she vanished in the soft, white clouds, and little Annie stood alone in her enchanted garden, where all was brightened with the radiant light, and fragrant with the perfume of her fairy flower.
She was as lovely as the dawn and gorgeous as the sunset; but what especially distinguished her was a certain rich perfume in her breath--richer than a garden of Persian roses.
With that rich perfume of her breath she blasted the very air.
The recollection of a perfume, the bare idea of it, may easily be mistaken for a present reality."
What would you?" cried a rich and youthful voice from the window of the opposite house--a voice as rich as a tropical sunset, and which made Giovanni, though he knew not why, think of deep hues of purple or crimson and of perfumes heavily delectable.
Soon, however,--as Giovanni had half hoped, half feared, would be the case,--a figure appeared beneath the antique sculptured portal, and came down between the rows of plants, inhaling their various perfumes as if she were one of those beings of old classic fable that lived upon sweet odors.
At this moment there came a beautiful insect over the garden wall; it had, perhaps, wandered through the city, and found no flowers or verdure among those antique haunts of men until the heavy perfumes of Dr.
"And yourself, lady," observed Giovanni, "if fame says true,--you likewise are deeply skilled in the virtues indicated by these rich blossoms and these spicy perfumes. Would you deign to be my instructress, I should prove an apter scholar than if taught by Signor Rappaccini himself."
By degrees, the light of the lamps gradually faded in the hands of the marble statues which held them, and the perfumes appeared less powerful to Morrel.
(without perfume), gold chain, blue coat of the shade called "king's blue," with brass buttons and a string of orders.
As soon as it was alight, he threw on it a handful of perfumes, and pronounced a few words that I did not understand, and immediately a thick column of smoke rose high into the air.
"As for me," said Planchet, "I seem to smell, from this place, even, a most delectable perfume of fine roast meat, and to see the scullions in a row by the hedge, hailing our approach.