Jean-Baptiste Rigaud, a great French perfumer of the 19th centuryFollowing studies in chemistry in his native Auvergne, Jean-Baptiste Rigaud
came to Paris in 1852 to experience his passion and reveal the artist within
He made his first steps in the Paris business milieu and in the world of
perfumery with a renowned pharmacist, Monsieur Grimault.
With passion and determination, guided by his imagination, he resolved to
travel the world in order to find new and undiscovered scents in exotic lands,
soon realizing the fascination and the emotion these unexploited riches could
awaken in Europe’s fine ladies.
Back in Paris at a time when the French aristocracy was experiencing
a real infatuation with everything English, Jean-Baptiste Rigaud opened his
perfumery in the rue Vivienne, under the name “Parfumerie Victoria” as a tribute to the Queen of England.
The names of the scents he purveyed to his clientele had a decidedly English
sound: “Kiss Me Quick,” “Jockey Club,” “Bouquet
Victoria.” He began what was to be a brilliant career by creating rare
exotic perfumes, orienting his business along a hitherto unknown path.
He explained his approach in these terms:
In founding a perfumery house, my aim was higher than simply to engage
in the ordinary commerce of perfumery. (…) I therefore hit upon the idea that
introducing a new aromatic plant would be like adding a new note to my keyboard,
as it were, and that only on that condition would I be able to create new
products bearing the stamp of originality.
Rigaud invents scented candles
After the war, Henri Rigaud’s son Mario, the great-grandson of Jean-Baptiste,
took over the company with his wife Viviane. She ran the Paris perfumery, which
she turned into a veritable private salon, like a boudoir where a great lady
receives her peers. A lover of homes and interior decoration, Viviane Rigaud was
also an innovator. She was the creator of the first scented candle.
Viviane Rigaud – who came from a family of chemists – developed and patented
an innovative wax formula. This was an original formula for a soft wax whose
main characteristic was that it perfectly revealed the natural ingredients that
make up the Rigaud perfumes and allowed them to be faithfully transmitted.
And that is how the Cyprès candle was born – dark green in color, presented
in a container of hand-blown glass, tied with a red ribbon and with a silvered
metal snuffer cap. The year was 1950, and the Rigaud Cyprès candle was an
international success. The scent of the Rigaud candle soon became the height of
chic in well-appointed homes, and even in the White House when Jacqueline
Kennedy was its mistress.
Everyone was talking about Rigaud’s marvelous “Parfum Flamme.” The Cyprès
scented candle has now become the universal standard for environmental
Thus a whole new business, home fragrances, developed – a
springboard for the ambition of the house of Rigaud to play on all the stops of
the master perfumer’s organ to create subtle, refined compositions and offer
exquisite luxury articles. Beginning in the 1970s, other creations – Cythère,
Tournesol, Gardénia – were adding beauty to chic interiors the world over, and
also became available in the form of fragrance sprays. The famous Rigaud
candle, with its silver snuffer cap and delicately hand-knotted satin ribbon,
was seen on the front pages of all the decorating magazines of the period.
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