The House of Houbigant
Operating since 1775, the House of Houbigant is the only fragrance house that has existed through four centuries of history. Through these centuries, the perfumers of the House of Houbigant have made groundbreaking discoveries in the formulation of perfumes that have revolutionized forever the way perfumes are constructed. It is not an exaggeration to say that, without the House of Houbigant, modern perfumery as we know it today would not exist.
It all began with just a basket of flowers. One day in Paris in 1775, a young man, Jean-Francois Houbigant, hung a hand painted sign of a basket of flowers over his little shop in rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. From the start his fragrances found favour with royalty and the nobility. Houbigant taught the titled women at the Court of Versailles how to perfume their fans so that just a fragrant flutter would send out a romantic message. When in 1793 Marie-Antoinette was executed by guillotine, she carried 3 vials of Houbigant perfume in her corsage to give her strength.
Over the centuries, the House of Houbigant became perfumer to the royal courts of Europe. Josephine, the future Empress of France, belonged to a group of stylish young men and women called “The Muscadins” because of their craze for musk which was Josephine’s favourite essence. Houbigant fragrances travelled in Napoleon’s campaign chest during the years when he was conquering Europe.
In the spring of 1815 Napoleon was only in Paris for three months, a period that history calls “The Hundred Days”. In those brief months he raised an army and yet found time to shop at Houbigant.
In 1829, Houbigant was appointed perfumer to Her Royal Highness, the Princess Adelaide d’Orleans, mother of King Louis-Philippe. In 1838, the French house was awarded the license of “Perfumer to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria of England”. Czar Alexander III named Houbigant perfumer to the Imperial Court of Russia in 1890. Houbigant created a perfume, “The Czarina’s Bouquet”, in honor of the Empress, Maria Fyodorovna. When her son ascended the throne as Czar Nicolas II in 1894, Houbigant continued as royal perfumer. Hand-written ledgers record the purchases of the Dowager Empress from 1900 until the eve of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Her sister, Queen Alexandra, wife of Kind Edward VII, began her purchases in 1902. The account books reveal that the two queens did their Christmas shopping together at Houbigant. Other royalty luminaries include La Comtesse de Saxe, first cousin of Louis XVI; the King and Queen of Holland; the Queen of Italy; Princess Mathilde, sister of Napoleon, Prince de Battenberg; Le Duc de Moucy; Tolstoy; the Russian Ambassador; Guy de Maupassant; the Rothschilds and more.
In 1880 Perfumer Paul Parquet became joint owner of the Houbigant business. It was under his direction that manufacturing and administration were moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine were facilities could be expanded. Staffing was increased, laboratories were installed. Houbigant was preparing for a new age.
In 1882, he introduced Fougère Royale, a fragrance that would define a new category of perfumes — the "fougère" (or fern-like) fragrance family, which is still today the most popular family in men fragrances.
Paul Parquet's creativity didn't stop with Fougère Royale. He continued introducing perfumes using synthetic materials and, in 1900, introduced Le Parfum Ideal, in 1908, Couer De Jeanette, and in 1910, Parfum Inconnu.
In 1912, Houbigant perfumer Bienaimé picked up the ball from Paul Parquet and introduced Quelque Fleurs, one of Houbigant's all time great fragrances and the first multi-floral bouquet ever created. Bienaimé left Houbigant in 1935 to found his own house. But, during the post-Parquet, pre-1950's period, Houbigant had the services of perfumers Paul Schving and Marcel Billot. It was Marcel Billot who was responsible for another great Houbigant fragrance, Chantilly, launched in 1941.
During the same period, Houbigant stretched out its commercial arms around the world. Under the direction of the Paris office, offices were established in the United States, England, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Poland, Romania. Connections were made in Havana, Buenos-Aires, Rio-de-Janeiro, Australia, Japan, and China.
Fascinated by the world of perfumes from an early age, Michele Perris starts very early to work with some of the most prestigious companies in the fragrances and cosmetic industry. This is how in 1973 he meets the last descendant of the Houbigant family and begins his involvement with the House of Houbigant, where he operates has a consultant.
Through the years of collaboration, a great friendship arises between the two men so when Michele, opens his first company in 1981, it is to distribute brands of the House of Houbigant. Years later, the owner has to walk away from the House of Houbigant for health reasons and sell the brands; the Perris family makes a point of honor to try to put back together the historic brands of the House of Houbigant.
After several years of efforts, they finally succeed in 2005 by acquiring the control of the Houbigant name for the fragrances and cosmetics market.
From that moment on all the family efforts have been focused on bringing back the name of Houbigant and giving it back all the respect and prestige it deserved