The History of Cologne

The history of cologne, otherwise known as Eau de cologne, start in a place called, fittingly enough, Cologne. This German location is considered the true birthplace of men's fragrance. While perfume and scent manipulation is old as humankind, the specific idea of this particular men's fragrance is a much more recent advance.

In 1709, an Italian man known as Gian Paolo Feminis decided to create a special perfume to honor his new hometown of Cologne, Germany. Named Eau De Cologne, the light and citrusy fragrance was soon a huge hit.

The creation of cologne is often mistakenly attributed to Giovanni Maria Farina, Feminis's nephew, who helped with his uncle's business.  Either way, royalty soon came knocking for the scent, as did everyone else. Even Napoleon was rumored to use the special scent blend. Though first touted as a medicine, cologne eventually became a luxury item instead of a restorative one.

Traditional cologne is a mix of essential oils in alcohol or an alcohol solution. The scents tend to stay light and airy. Cologne utilizes typical fragrances, such as citrus, floral and musk. It can be used by men or women, though it usually steers clear of sweeter combinations. 

The difference between cologne for men and typical perfume usually comes down to the scent concentration. Perfumes carry much heavier ratios of essential oils than colognes do. Eau De Cologne usually has no more than 5 percent essential oil mixed in. Perfume has up to 25 percent essential oil mixed in. 

As with any popular item, countless imitations soon arose. The history of cologne holds many shady dealings and counterfeits when it comes to Farina's original Eau De Cologne, but it's still possible to purchase the scent. There are also many variations that can be purchased, all based on the original idea.

There is a Farina museum in Cologne, Germany that contains mountains of documents, trinkets and even original bottles. You can explore the history of cologne from the first idea to present day companies with claims on the original recipe. These days, though, the term cologne is used as a generic name for most men's fragrances instead of referring exclusively to the original product. 

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