A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer (Paperback)
The untold story of Marie-Antoinette's perfumer, Jean-Louis Fargeon.
Montpellier, 1748: Jean-Louis Fargeon is born into a family of perfumers and soon becomes apprentice to his father's modest perfumery. But he dreams of the glittering court of Versailles and of becoming perfumer to the young queen, Marie Antoinette. His ambition carried him to Paris where his boutique became one of the most elegant and well-patronised in France. Concocting sumptuous perfumes and pomades for most of the French nobility, Fargeon eventually caught the attention of the queen. After meeting Marie Antoinette in the Trianon Palace, he began creating lavish bespoke scents that perfectly reflected her moods and personality.
He served as her personal and exclusive perfumer for fourteen years until 1789 when the darkness of Revolution swept across France, its wrath aimed at the extravagance of a now hated queen. Fargeon, a lifelong supporter of the Republican cause but a purveyor to the court, was in a dangerous position. Yet he remained fiercely loyal to Marie Antoinette, beyond her desperate flight to Varennes, her execution and even through his own imprisonment and trial...
“An entrancing biography.” —Elle
“A subtly distilled life. Fargeon's impressions of Marie Antoinette are particularly compelling.” —New Yorker
“Rhapsodic and piquant… full of information.” —New York Review of Books
“The book's heroes are Marie Antoinette, perfume and Fargeon in that order, but what emerges is a powerful evocation of a lost world.” —The Times
“Learning about Fargeon's relationship with the Queen and about the fragrances that he compounded is particularly relevant for me. It is also fascinating to read about the ingredients, many of which are used to this day.” —Vanity Fair
“De Feydeau's descriptions of Versailles Palace's obsessions with coiffure, fashion, perfume and cosmetics are alluring.” —Daily Telegraph
“De Feydeau's lively account gives the reader an additional twist on the life and times of Marie Antoinette and her influence on two of France's continuing major industries – fashion and scent.” —Washington Post
“Interesting and well-written.” —French Magazine