The Fragrance Merchant

A real character or a nomadic magician, the Fragrance Merchant fascinates with the magic of his talents. In his travels, he captures scents that he then likes to share. Thanks to him, a whiff of poetry will dress the Holiday festivities.
By Caroline Taret

We don’t really know the history of the Fragrance Merchant. This character refers back to the century of Louis XIV, and the importance given to perfume during the reign of the Sun King, who according to the specialists gave a push and a pedigree to a craft that today contributes to making France a country of luxury and creativity.

Back then, perfume was used for its masking properties, whether the nauseating smells of a residence without toilets (which was the case for the Château de Versailles under Louis XIV) or the animal smells emanating from leather gloves. The latter were also a weapon of seduction at the court, a testament to grandeur, and the fragrance that filled the air when an elegant or a prince passed by constituted a proof of power. Other accessories like fans and wigs captured perfumes, just as many different props for the creations of the perfume merchant, ancestor to the perfumer.

The myth of the Fragrance Merchant is intimately related to the perfumers of the Grasse region: at the time the perfume capital was a garden of ingredients that made up the raw materials in the fabrication of perfume: jasmine, orange trees, roses… He traveled all over the cities and towns, going from door to door to sell his fragrant creations.

This year this emblematic character, who gives everybody the possibility of experimenting with perfume and understanding its properties, inspires L’OCCITANE en Provence. To accompany its Christmas 2012 collection, L’OCCITANE en Provence has dreamed up a tale that invests the Fragrance Merchant with magical powers. A story to tell and marvelous scents to try.

The legend begins one December 23. The Fragrance Merchant must join his peers at the foot of a one thousand year old tree. Guided by a silver ray of light, he reaches the clearing without hesitating. When he sees the sparkling leaves, his magic wand slips out of his hand and lodges into the trunk of the olive tree. Within moments, the tree is covered with young green shoots, releasing the scents of verbena and hazel. Soon the branches are enveloped in garlands of fragrant pink flowers. The legend of the perfumed forest spreads to the four corners of the world, telling folk everywhere of two new fragrant accords: Marvelous Flowers and Magical Leaves.

The Fragrance Merchant's imaginary world
The Fragrance Merchant's imaginary world
Photography L'Occitane