When Was Cologne Invented? The History of Cologne.

Written By: Ahmed Farah
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Colognes. We all wear them, collect them, and admire them dearly. But have you ever stopped to wonder more about the history of the Bottles we often take for granted?

Similar to the extreme scent and styles, we see from colognes in the modern era, its history is equally as rich and fascinating, and one that spans centuries. So when was cologne invented, Who by, and What really is the history behind these bottles?

When Was Cologne Invented?

Colognes have been going on for a pretty long time to say the least. From the Legendary Elvis Presley himself to modern sensations like Stonger with You Intensely, it’s fair to say there is a history.

Cologne, as we know it today, was invented in the year 1709. Giovanni Maria Farina, an Italian perfumer from Santa Maria Maggiore, Valle Vigezzo, launched the original Eau de Cologne in the city of Cologne, Germany. This groundbreaking fragrance marked the beginning of cologne’s storied history, becoming an enduring classic that transcended generations and captivated the senses.

But there is so much more to the history of Colognes than just the invention. So, lets dive in!

The Story Of The Invention Of Cologne

To truly understand the story of the invention of Cologne, we first need to take a quick trip back to 14th-century Florence, Italy. Here, the story begins with the skilled nuns of the Iconic Santa Maria Monastery. Within these walls, these talented nuns crafted something truly special – a fragrant water. This scented water carried the essence of a refreshing Italian spring morning, echoing with the scents of mountain daffodils and the blossoms of orange trees after a cleansing rain. It was this scent that was believed to be the first influence of the cologne we wear today.

Giovanni Paolo Feminis and the 17th Century

Now, let’s fast forward to the 17th century. This is where we meet Giovanni Paolo Feminis, an Italian perfumer whose destiny became tightly entwined with our scented legend. Fascinated by tales of this mystical fragrance, Feminis embarked on a fragrant pilgrimage. He journeyed to Florence, where the nuns of the Santa Maria Monastery held the secrets to this aromatic elixir. Here, Feminis immersed himself in the art of scent, learning the alchemical dance of essential oils and extracts.

With the fragrant formula etched into his heart and mind, Feminis made his way back to Cologne, the city that would soon be linked to cologne forever. Here, the essence of the Mediterranean met the cool, northern breezes of Cologne, leading to a remarkable transformation. Feminis, armed with newfound knowledge, added a symphony of scents – the lively zest of lemon, the comforting warmth of orange, and the graceful notes of bergamot. What emerged was a fragrant masterpiece, a refreshing and invigorating scent that transcended boundaries.

The First Eau de Cologne

This fragrant creation carried the name “Eau de Cologne” as a tribute to the famous city of origin. It wasn’t just a fragrance; it was a cologne journey to the shores of the Mediterranean. Eau de Cologne became much more than a scent; it became an ode to the timeless allure of this beautiful region. It was a fragrance destined to capture the hearts and imaginations of all who encountered it.

Rising Demand

Eau de Cologne, with its invigorating and uplifting aura, quickly became a sensation. It found its way into the courts of Europe, enchanting the senses of royalty and nobility alike. The demand for this captivating scent soared. In response, Feminis sought the expertise of another perfumer, Giovanni Maria Farina, marking a pivotal moment in the aromatic legend of Eau de Cologne as it continued to flourish.

Development in the 19th Century

The 19th century was a pivotal era in the history of cologne, witnessing significant developments in perfume-making techniques, scent preferences, and cultural influences. This period marked a transition from traditional fragrances to more complex and varied scents, reflecting the changing tastes and sensibilities of the time.

The Influence of Queen Victoria and British Perfumery

In the early 19th century, Queen Victoria reigned over the British Empire with a strong emphasis on modesty and simplicity. She discouraged the excessive use of makeup and heavy perfumes, favoring a more understated and clean appearance. This shift in royal preference had a profound impact on the perfumery industry in Britain. Delicate scents like lavender, jasmine, bergamot, and lemon gained popularity, with violet and herbaceous notes such as thyme, clove, and rosemary becoming particularly fashionable.

The Movement of Clean and Fresh Colognes

Alongside Queen Victoria’s influence, the hygienist movement gained momentum during the 19th century. This movement advocated cleanliness as a defense against disease. As a result, clean and fresh perfumes were highly favored. These scents were not only pleasant but also seen as a way to maintain good hygiene.

The Role Of Technology

In the world of perfumery, the 19th century witnessed significant technological advancements. The ability to create synthetic fragrance compounds, such as vanillin, led to an explosion of creative possibilities. Perfume companies competed to discover and use the best synthetic compounds to create unique and captivating scents. This era marked a shift from simple floral and citrus fragrances to more complex and layered compositions that evoked specific feelings and abstract concepts.

British perfume houses played a pivotal role in this creative surge. They drew inspiration from various sources, including the fragrant traditions of other cultures and artistic movements of the time. The design of perfume bottles also evolved during this period, with materials like porcelain, silver, copper, and white glass being used. Enamel became a popular base for hand-painted designs, showcasing intricate pastoral scenes and adding an artistic dimension to perfume packaging.

The perfume industry of the 19th century laid the foundation for modern perfumery. It introduced a rich diversity of scents, innovative techniques, and a greater appreciation for the art of fragrance. While the 19th century emphasized freshness and simplicity, it also sparked a creative revolution that continues to influence contemporary perfumery.

The 20th Century: The Cologne Revolution

The 20th century was a transformative period for cologne and the world of perfumery. This era witnessed a fragrance revolution characterized by a departure from traditional scents, the emergence of iconic fragrances, and innovative techniques that forever changed the way we experience and appreciate cologne.

The Emergence of Iconic Fragrances:

The early 20th century saw the release of iconic colognes that would become enduring classics. One such example is “Pour Un Homme de Caron,” released in 1934 by the House of Caron. Despite its sweet and fresh composition, including notes of lavender, bergamot, and vanilla, it was marketed specifically for men, challenging traditional gender boundaries in fragrance.

Changing Scent Preferences:

As the century progressed, changing societal norms and cultural influences impacted scent preferences. Perfume houses began to experiment with new scent families and notes, offering more diverse options to consumers. The popularity of fragrances evolved from the traditional florals and citrus scents to include oriental, woody, and gourmand fragrances, reflecting a broader range of olfactory experiences.

The Influence of Art Movements:

Artistic movements also played a significant role in shaping cologne in the 20th century. Fragrance houses drew inspiration from movements like Art Nouveau, which originated in France and emphasized intricate, nature-inspired designs. This artistic influence extended to perfume bottle design, leading to beautifully crafted and visually appealing containers.

And to this day, the French have no doubt provided us with some of the greatest colognes in recent times, with gems like the Bleu de Chanel to the infamous Jean Paul Gauliter range.

Technological Advancements:

The 20th century witnessed remarkable technological advancements in fragrance creation. Perfumers gained access to a wider range of aroma chemicals, enabling them to craft complex and long-lasting scents. This era also marked the advent of synthetic aroma chemicals, offering greater creative possibilities and ensuring the consistency of fragrance compositions.

Genderless Fragrance in the 21st Century:

The 20th century’s impact on the world of cologne paved the way for the contemporary trend of genderless fragrance. Perfume houses began to challenge traditional gender distinctions in scent, leading to a more inclusive and diverse range of fragrances. Today, perfume creators are more interested in unique ingredients and fragrance stories than adhering to strict gender categories.

And we’ve been lucky to review some incredible genderless and modern fragrances, like the Latafa Khamrah and the Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille.

History of Colognes in Britain

The history of cologne in Britain is a captivating tale that unfolds against the backdrop of changing tastes, royal influences, and cultural developments. From its introduction to the British Isles to its enduring presence in the hearts of the English, cologne has woven itself into the fabric of British perfumery.

Early Introduction to Britain:

Cologne, with its refreshing and invigorating qualities, found its way to Britain during the 19th century. Initially perceived as a foreign luxury, it was embraced by those who sought to indulge in the delightful scents of the continent. The British, known for their appreciation of refinement, welcomed cologne as a novel olfactory experience.

And there’s no doubt the Brits have fed us well with infamous cologne houses like Burberry and Victoria’s Secret.

Queen Victoria and Modesty in Perfumery:

Queen Victoria’s reign during the 19th century left an indelible mark on British perfumery. The Queen’s personal preferences favored modesty and simplicity, discouraging the excessive use of makeup and heavy perfumes. This influence translated into the widespread popularity of clean, fresh scents in Britain. Delicate fragrances like lavender, jasmine, and citrus notes became the olfactory signatures of the era.

Technological Advancements and Creative Freedom:

The 19th century also witnessed significant technological advancements in perfume-making in Britain. Perfumers gained access to a broader palette of aroma chemicals, enabling the creation of complex and long-lasting scents. The ability to synthesize new aromatic compounds ignited a surge of creativity, leading to the release of layered and multi-note fragrances that evoked specific emotions and abstract concepts.

British Perfumery in the 20th Century:

The 20th century brought about a new chapter in British perfumery. The influence of artistic movements like Art Nouveau, with its intricate and nature-inspired designs, extended to fragrance bottle design. Perfume houses in Britain began crafting visually stunning containers that complemented the scents they held.

Changing Scent Preferences in Contemporary Britain:

In the 21st century, the fragrance landscape in Britain continues to evolve. The appeal of traditional florals and citrus scents has expanded to include a broader range of fragrance families, including oriental, woody, and gourmand fragrances. British perfumery now celebrates diversity and inclusivity, offering a wide array of scents for individuals of all preferences.

History of Colognes in Egypt

The history of cologne in Egypt is a fragrant journey through the annals of time, reflecting the country’s rich cultural heritage and profound connection with aromatic traditions. From ancient rituals to modern indulgences, cologne has remained an integral part of Egyptian olfactory culture.

Ancient Origins and Aromatic Rituals:

The roots of cologne in Egypt can be traced back to ancient times when fragrances held deep spiritual significance. The ancient Egyptians believed that scents had the power to connect the earthly realm with the divine. Aromatic substances like myrrh, frankincense, and kyphi were used in religious rituals, funerary practices, and daily life. These ancient aromatic traditions laid the foundation for Egypt’s enduring love affair with fragrance.

Egyptian Perfumery: An Ancient Craft:

Egyptian perfumery was a highly regarded craft, with skilled artisans known as “unguent makers” creating exquisite fragrances from botanical ingredients. Perfumes were used not only for personal adornment but also as offerings to the gods and protection against the harsh desert environment. The famous Egyptian queen Cleopatra was renowned for her extensive perfume collection and her mastery of perfumery.

Egyptian Attars: A Fragrant Tradition:

Egyptian attars are renowned for their complexity and depth. They often feature rich floral notes, such as jasmine and rose, blended with spices and exotic resins. These fragrances are worn with pride and are considered a reflection of personal style and taste. Egyptians appreciate the enduring nature of attars, which unfold gradually on the skin, creating a unique and intimate olfactory experience.

Egyhptian and Arabic colognes have no doubt supplied us with gems in the modern day. Just look at great scents like Khamrah, Asad, Oud24 and Rasasi.

History of Cologne in Turkey

The fame of cologne, with its refreshing and invigorating qualities, eventually transcended geographical boundaries and reached the Ottoman Empire, during the reign of Abdülhamid II. This marked the beginning of a unique chapter in the story of cologne, as it intertwined with Turkish culture and became an integral part of social customs.

The Rise of Cologne in the Ottoman Empire:

During this period, it was customary in the Ottoman Empire to offer guests rosewater as a welcoming gesture. However, the tradition of offering cologne began to take root and evolve as cologne gained popularity. In 1882, a significant milestone was reached when the first locally produced cologne appeared on the scene, crafted by Ahmet Faruk. Eau de Cologne, known as “odikolon” among the people, gradually adopted the name “cologne” over time.

A Cultural Legacy Passed Through Generations:

Even with the eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the tradition of cologne did not fade away; rather, it transformed into a cultural practice passed down through generations. Today, in many households across Turkey, offering cologne to guests is a cherished custom. It’s a symbol of hospitality, a way to refresh and invigorate visitors, and a gesture that reflects the warm spirit of Turkish culture.

Kolonya’s Unique Origins in Turkey:

It’s important to note that kolonya in Turkey isn’t just a direct import of Eau de Cologne from Europe. Instead, it evolved with a distinctly Turkish character. As cologne’s popularity grew, Turkish perfumers began adding new scents to the imported perfume, creating a uniquely Turkish product. This infusion of local scents and traditions made Turkish kolonya a distinct and cherished part of daily life.

The Resilience of Cologne in Turkish Culture:

The tradition of cologne has stood the test of time, enduring even in the face of societal changes and evolving trends. Today, it remains an essential part of Turkish hospitality. In most Turkish homes, cologne is offered to guests as a sign of respect and welcome, a tradition that reflects the nation’s enduring appreciation for fragrance and its role in daily life.

The History of Cologne in Africa

The history of cologne in Africa is a captivating story that weaves together the continent’s diverse cultures, rich botanical resources, and deep appreciation for fragrance. From ancient rituals to contemporary expressions of scent, cologne holds a special place in the hearts and traditions of African communities.

Ancient Roots and Traditional Scents:

The use of fragrance in Africa dates back millennia. Various indigenous cultures across the continent have long recognized the power of scent in rituals, ceremonies, and everyday life. Indigenous plants, aromatic resins, and herbs were skillfully blended to create perfumes and fragrant oils, adding depth and significance to cultural practices.

Aromatic Traditions and Healing Rituals:

In many African cultures, fragrances were believed to possess healing properties and spiritual significance. Aromatic herbs and oils were used in traditional medicine and shamanic rituals. Scents played a role in cleansing and purifying ceremonies, symbolizing renewal and transformation.

Contemporary African Perfumery:

In modern Africa, the tradition of perfumery has evolved while still retaining its deep-rooted connection to nature and tradition. Local artisans and perfumers draw inspiration from the continent’s diverse flora, creating unique and region-specific fragrances that resonate with local communities. These fragrances often reflect the vibrant landscapes, wildlife, and cultural diversity of Africa.

Celebrating Local Ingredients:

African perfumers celebrate the wealth of botanical resources found across the continent. Ingredients like African violet, baobab, frankincense, and myrrh are used to craft distinct scents that capture the essence of Africa’s natural beauty. These fragrances serve as a tribute to the continent’s biodiversity and cultural richness.

Love Locally sourced ingredients? Check out niche colognes!


In summary, cologne, with its origins in the year 1709, has evolved from a revolutionary fragrance to an integral part of our olfactory culture. Its rich history spans centuries and continents, weaving together diverse traditions and scents that continue to enchant and inspire. From ancient rituals to modern expressions, cologne remains a testament to the enduring power of fragrance in our lives, transcending time and borders to captivate the senses and tell a fragrant tale of its own.

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About The Author

A cologne lover and reviewer, Ahmed has reviewed over 45 colognes on the site. Finding the best perfumes and colognes for our audience, review and ranking them as well as looking at all types of data, from price, longevity, silage to uniqueness.

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