La Rose Jacqueminot is the fragrance that launched the Coty business and started François Coty on his way to becoming one of the world's wealthiest men.
In 1900, at the age of 25, Coty still using his birth name, François Spoturno arrived in Paris. Like so many others, he had to work for a living, having no inheritance and no rich relatives. In fact, his parents were both dead by the time he was seven and his grandmother had run out of money before he finished school.
But in Paris, Coty was given a small job by his former army commander. With the job came a title, which gave Coty an introduction to Paris society. Even so, to support himself he found a job as a salesman of fashion accessories. At this point, while ambitious, he had no "grand plan."
Coty married a woman he had met on a sales call. She was an elegant dresser and had some social standing. As a couple they became weekly card partners of Raymond Goery and his wife. Gorey was a pharmacist and, some evenings, was still working in his lab when the Cotys (Sportunos) arrived.
Goery made, among other preparations, an eau de cologne. Coty was interested in how it smelled and in how it was blended. He didn't like what he smelled and believed he could do better. Goery challenged him and Coty came up with some credible results. Gorey explained that perfumery required education and Grasse was the place to get it. Coty decamped for Grasse.
In Grasse, the center of French perfumery, Coty talked his way into Chiris's perfumery training school and spend the next two years learning something about perfumery. While it appears that he was a good student, he was told that two years study was hardly enough time to qualify himself as a perfumer.
Coty returned to Paris and started making perfumes. In spite of his excellent sales skills, all doors were closed to him. In the minds of store owners, Coty was a liability. They were doing good business with established firms selling fragrances that were established winners. Selling Coty's perfume could only hurt their businesses which were already doing quite well.
Coty, being 29 years old now and ambitious, was finding himself frustrated by this rejection. But, what appears to have been a publicity stunt, suddenly changed everything for Coty.
The year was 1904. The place was the Grands Magasins de Louver, a major Parisian department store. Coty had come to show his latest creation, La Rose Jacqueminot. None of his previous creations had found a market. But instead of being enthusiastic, the store's buyer was showing Coty the door without allowing Coty to even open the bottle!
At this point Coty by design or in anger smashed his sample bottle on a counter or on the floor. Immediately the aroma of La Rose Jacqueminot filled the air ... and brought women swarming to Coty's side, asking the name of this wonderful fragrance ... and where they could buy it. (It has been suggested that Coty paid them for this enactment.)
One version of this story claims that the bottle smashed was Coty's last bottle. Another version claims that he sold his remaining sample bottles on the spot. In any event, that evening Coty received an order for twelve bottles of La Rose Jacqueminot. Within weeks, stores were demanding La Rose Jacqueminot. Coty's business was launched and in a matter of months he had made his first million.
How, you may ask, did Coty finance his early expansion and distribution? Thanks to the relationships he had cultivated at Chiris, a Chiris subsidiary, Rallet, undertook Coty's distribution in this first days of the business.
The La Rose Jacqueminot EDT bottle shown here is of post-World War II vintage, either late 1940's or perhaps early 1950's.
"La Rose Jacqueminot" refers to a rose which has been described as "a creamy scented variety of rosa centifolia."
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