It was 1882 when Fougère Royale was introduced, the genial creation of Paul Parquet for Houbigant. Before then, the perfumery had taken to gracefully imitating the fragrances of nature without exaltation.
The Eau de Fleurs or Eau de Cologne gave a light touch of freshness, but these of other more definite or sensual aromas were held to be rather unsuitable in Europe: some english firms were already famous, but their perfumes were at most floral mono-themes (Rose, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Lavender).
It was only towards the mid-nineteenth century that the progresses made in chemistry ensured a reasonable availability of natural essences. The new methods of extraction of natural extracts played an important role. Since the use of synthetic coumarins (fragrant molecules isolated for the first time in Tonka Beans and also present in lavender oil) didn’t make the fragrance seem very natural, the idea was to attribute them as coming from the fern family, which are, to a large extent, unscented. This bond with the luxuriant vegetation of the brushwood, immediately brought to mind odours of soil, woods, and musk. In this way the sweet aroma of the coumarins, warm and full-bodied, united to lavender, lemon and woody notes gave life to that green masculine tonality, woody, gently floral that is now properly defined Fougère. Fougère Royale was a forerunner both because it was perhaps the first perfume to be created with the aid of new molecules of synthesis and also because it was the first one to purposely create a name designed to attract the public: the idea of a perfume that could represent a style or a personality was born. It began the revolution that, for artistic perfumery was as important as impressionism was for art: it was the first example of a family of fragrances that became then the preference among the male public.
The creator of Fougère Royal once said: "If God had given a fragrance to ferns they would have an odour similar to Fougère Royal". Even today it can happen that someone is surprised that ferns don't give off odour...