Lightyears Collection

The official history of Molinard dates the company's origin to 1849 when a chemist, Jeaune Molinard, opened a small shop in Grasse, France, selling scented waters made by his secret recipe.

Molinard Heliotrope
Heliotrope by Molinard Date unknown. Bottle courtesy of Hugues Thibaud.

Both the early history of Molinard and the 1849 date are a bit uncertain but we do know that in 1894 Molinard set up its own distillery and its clientele included Queen Victoria.

In 1900 Molinard built a new factory in Grasse using a structure designed by Gustave Eiffel, best known as the designer of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In 1920 the company headquarters was moved to Paris.

Molinard's best known fragrances, both still available, are Habanita (1924) and Concreta (1924). Both are of interest for their concepts.

Habanita ("Little Havana") was first introduced in 1921 as a perfume for tobacco. (Fragrancing tobacco is a longstanding industry practice.) Then, in 1924, it was offered directly to consumers as "The world's most long lasting perfume." While considered a bit quirky by modern standards, it still has its adherents — mostly self-assured women but also a handful of adventurous men.

Concreta, also introduced to the public in 1924 and still available today, claims to be the world's first compact (solid) perfume in which "natural flower wax is used directly as a perfume." While the company talks a "very guarded secret" formula, it also boasts patent protection — which generally requires a revelation of what it is to be patented.

Over the years Concreta has gained favor with collectors for its individually hand painted pot tops which have followed a variety of themes.

Since 1981 the company has been in the hands of a fourth generation family member, Jean-Pierre Lerouge-Benard, son of a perfumer and a perfumer himself, who started with the company in 1963. His two daughters are now employed in the business thus bringing on the firth generation.

Molinard boasts a history of working with distinguished glass makers, including Rene Lalique and Julien Viard.

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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.