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Fougère Royale - Yincense

"Yincense" is a new concept in Incense Crafting:  See Article

 This incredibly beautiful and unique form of incense comes in a large gold tin, the appearance and texture is like delicate leaves, herbs and light petals that are highly fragrant.  Each tin holds enough for many uses. Don't miss this incense that is a blend of old techniques and new. - Katlyn

Fougère means fern in French. For more than a hundred years "Fougère" has been one of the main olfactive families in the fragrance arts.  At its heart, a fougère fragrance is the scent of new-mown hay, lavender and oak moss.  It creates the olfactive impression of being at the edge of the southern European woods.  Between the meadow and the glade. A Fougère fragrance brings a sense of loving energy to the spirit, is uplifting and calming to the mind and has aphrodisiac effects on the body.


In modern times, this combination of scents first came into use with a perfume created by Frenchman Paul Parquet who, in 1882, created a fragrance known as "Fougère Royale".  This fragrance went on to have a massive influence in the world of perfumery and beyond.  Among others, "Fougère Royale"  was celebrated and written about by the famous French author Guy Maupassant as the quintessential fragrance.  It deeply touched the European soul in a way that evoked memories and childhood.


"Fougère Royale" was unique at the time in that it was the first time a synthetic aromachemical was used.  Parquet chemically isolated coumarin away from tonka beans so that it could be used in higher concentrations to replicate the smell of new mown hay.  A full 10% of his original formula was coumarins.  This amount of coumarins and oakmoss would not be permitted under today's regulatory regimes in Europe.  Coumarins are naturally found in not only in tonka beans but in sweetgrass, sweet clover, and bedstraw. Plants that are common in European meadows.


Perfumers of his generation considered Paul Parquet a great artist.  Master perfumer Robert Bienaimé wrote of Parquet:

"Patiently, methodically, Paul Parquet worked. Starting from old, outmoded formulae, studying odorous reactions, assembling a palette of smells...each new note marked a step forward in his evolution."

Perfumers have always been a secretive lot, jealously guarding their inspirations, sources, and formulas.  Mssr. Parquet was no exception.  For a long time I was confused that Parquet supposedly said that he invented  "If God gave ferns a scent, they would smell like Fougére Royale".   Why would he call his masterpiece "Fougére Royale" if ferns were scentless?  Well, of course, because not all ferns are scentless, and the ones that do have a fragrance..... they smell of coumarins.  I am beginning to doubt if Mssr. Parquet even said the above because I have never found a reference to this quote in the French language only in English.

So, where did Parquet get his inspiration for this historic blend?  The combination of coumarin scented herbs, grasses and ferns combined with lavender and oak mosses is a classic medieval strewing herb for bedchambers, common rooms, and chapels.  The herbs were also was scattered amongst stored clothes along with roses.  Scented ferns, wild lavender, and oak trees come together in South Western France in the lands of Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Eleanor's court was known for its poetry, beauty, and refinement.  It is not hard to imagine that the fragrance of "Fougére Royale" was of her court.


During Paul Parquet's youth in the mid-1880s, South Western France was an area made very chic-chic by Napoleon and Josephine.  South-Western France is one of the few areas in the world where fragrant ferns, wild lavender, and oak trees grow together.  Did Parquet visit the area with his haute bourgeois family and experience this fragrance combination in the wild or in lodgings that still used this fragrance accord to scent clothing and lodgings?  It would be easy to still wildcraft all the ingredients during the mid-1800s.  It is possible that the combination of hay-scented plants, wild lavender, and oakmoss is a fragrance memory not only of his youth but that of many of his contemporaries. The reason for "Fougère Royale's" monumental success. Or, did he find this combination of fragrances mentioned in one of the books he studied on old fragrance formulas much like contemporary fragrance artist often rummage through books on fragrance from bygone eras looking for inspiration?

Whether it is any or none of the above, the fragrance blend known as "Fougére" is as delightful now as it was a thousand years ago in medieval Europe.  In this Yincense blend I have used salted and aged, wildcrafted, Sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) as the coumarin base to which I have added Salted, French lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) that I grew in my garden, wildcrafted tree moss (Evernia spp), salted, wild rose petals (Rosa rugosa) and a pinch of orris root (Iris germanica)  as a traditional European fixative touch.   


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