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6• Remobina..Parfum Royal by Jean Patou Reconstitution of the perfume by Jean Kerléo 1997 Osmothèque

Updated: Apr 8

A Treasure preserved at the Osmotique of Versailles

Parfum Royal by Jean Patou

Jumbo in two copies, one for the Osmothèque de Versailles

Bottle designed by Michèle Teysseyre

Private collection GF

The oldest perfume ever recreated preserved at the Osmotheque of Versailles dates back to the first century. It is Parfum Royal, whose recipe appears in one of the thirty-seven volumes of Natural History, written by Pliny the Elder.

An essence that has twenty-seven constituents (generally, a perfume contains ten to forty, or more).


I met Michèle Teysseire in 1995, during a perfume fair at the Hotel Capoul in Toulouse. She had just lost part of her works, destroyed in a fire that had ravaged her artist's studio. The studio, located in the Chartreuse in a central district of Toulouse, was rebuilt. It is there that she continued to paint to the delight of a faithful clientele admiring her paintings. She will use fragments of her charred works to make new artistic creations.

Geneviève Fontan and Michèle Teysseire at the Parfum Art et Valeur exhibition at Capoul in Toulouse, 1995

Michèle Teysseire has an emotional way of inviting you into her projects and so, as a young associate publisher (Ed. Fontan & Barnouin), we entered into a timely editorial partnership, resulting in the release of a luxurious presentation combining a book on flavours and an exceptional fragrance.


Presentation box for the book Flavours and Scents of Ancient Rome and the perfume Royal

The presentation box contains the recipe book and the date-shaped bottle presented in a boxed set reminiscent of the date palm fruit transport crates. Michèle Teysseire, meticulous and perfectionist, wanted to participate in every step of the creation of the book, the box, the bottle and the packaging. The filling, the wrapping and the sealing with gold thread were carried out in Paris in the workshops of the House of Jean Patou.

The book Saveurs et senteurs de la Rome antique is a collection of 80 Apicius recipes, developed by Italian chef Renzo Pedrazzini. Each recipe is illustrated with a drawing by Michèle Tesseyre. This first edition was published by Fontan & Barnouin Editions. Le Parfum Royal is a perfume composed by perfumer Jean Kerléo, based on a recipe by Pliny the Elder (1st century CE), kept in the cellars of the Osmotheque in Versailles.


Jean de Moüy, Jean Patou's grand-nephew, managed the Maison Jean Patou from 1980 until the 2000s. Very sensitive to art and a lover of old books, which he collects with genuine passion, he acquired many paintings by the MT artist, deeply moved by his talent as a painter. So much so that one day, as a patron of the arts, he asked Jean Kerléo, the olfactory designer of the Maison Jean Patou, to design a perfume for the release of the book Saveurs et senteur de la Rome Antique. He then presented Jean Kerléo to Michèle Teysseire, who asked for the "impossible", i.e. a perfume that illustrates the 80 recipes of Apicius.

Jean Kerléo reports "When I was asked to make an ancient perfume, I first said NO, I already have trouble making modern perfumes. If it's to go back centuries, then it's illusory."

And then he said: Let's try it anyway!

And one thing leading to another, or from one wand to another, the Royal Perfume, mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his famous book Histoire Naturelle in book XIII, took shape, so to speak! Jean Kerléo encountered obstacles in the search for raw materials that had to be gleaned all over the world. As for the quantities that were not mentioned, he had to make multiple attempts to find the right dosage. Finally, after a year, through perseverance, driven by the desire to achieve his goals, Jean Kerléo succeeded in reconstituting the Parfum Royal. Today, the Parfum Royal is preciously preserved in the cellars of the Osmothèque and only comes out into the open for exceptional occasions.

I have always had an immense pleasure, -I could say to talk with Jean Kerléo- but I would say to listen to him. He has immense knowledge and willingly tells, without emphasis, fascinating stories about his life at Jean Patou and all sorts of tasty anecdotes that I should have written down to tell you today.

The Royal Perfume, the first of all times, is a treasure for the Osmotheque of Versailles. This unique place in the world, founded by Jean Kerléo in 1990, has kept in its cellars the precious scents of the world's greatest perfumes since the first century.


If you go back to ancient Rome, Rome had the best tables in the world. Its cuisine was spicy and the presence of perfume could not go unnoticed. It was customary to perfume oneself, like an olfactory aperitif, just before sitting down to the table! Perfume was in a way the dominant "grain of salt" of flavours.

Parfum Royal, seems to have been developed for the kings of Parthia (formerly Iran). A perfume seems to be composed of 24 aromatics and 3 excipients. It is mentioned in the book of Paul Faure, Perfumes and Aromates of Antiquity.

It is in this book that Jean Kerléo was able to find the list of ingredients. One of his friends, Gilbert Julien, passionate about herbalism, helped him a lot in his research.


17 NOVEMBER 1997 - Inauguration of the Parfum Royal, at Jean Patou's house, 7 Rue St Florentin in Paris

In the salons of Jean Patou's private mansion, the inauguration of the book Saveurs et Senteurs de la Rome Antique and of the Parfum Royal by Jean Patou, reconstructed by Jean Kerléo, took place on 17 November 1997. A memorable event!

Photos of the evening at Jean Patou 17 November 1997

Parfums Art et Valeur magazine, 1997

Mr and Mrs Jean Kerléo during

the cocktail party

The "feast" was prepared by Renzo Pedrazzini, author of the recipes in the book, who had chosen the best preparations of the great Roman dinners. However, thechoice of wines caused some discussion and finally the idea of serving Roman wines was abandoned.

Indeed, Roman wines are spicy and sweet, which could have disturbed or surprised the palate of the uninformed. The choice of wines was therefore entrusted to the wine antique dealer, Hervé Lorain.

Geneviève Fontan and Gérard Gasquet, decorator at Jean Patou


On the occasion of the 2nd salon Parfum art et Valeur in Toulouse, Renzo Pedrazzini was the master chef of the cocktail party. Guests were able to discover the flavours of ancient Rome.


Coming straight from the cellars of Jean Patou, this royal scent was intended for perfuming date-shaped cards. I treasure these few millilitres of rare scent for a solitary pleasure.


Perfume card Parfum Royal

Let's stay in the Rembobina, with the release of the book on scented cards published by the House of Arfon in 1997, which features the scented card-datte.

A scented card (impregnated with Parfum Royal), in the shape of a numbered date-bottle, was offered to Arfon's best customers. The Parfum Royal came straight from the Osmothèque, I keep what little of this precious perfume I have left as a relic.


I had dinner at the Lugdunum at Renzo Pedrazini's in St Bertrand de Comminges. It's a unique experience to do once in a lifetime. Authentic cuisine! Cultural cuisine! You can taste what was served at the time of Apicius. Going to dinner at the Lugdunum in St Bertrand de Comminges, is like a kind of "live" in Ancient Rome.

On the scent side, I am transported by the Royal Perfume, which I used to put a few drops on the back of my hand not so long ago. Now I don't touch it anymore.

My friends and family don't perceive it the same way. They ask me half-figuratively, half-grapefruit: "...but what is this perfume?"

In conclusion, this scent is a curiosity, I like its spicy scent, a fine scent of leather, exotic woods, maybe also... I have designed this perfume to be used at the table, at a Roman dinner or a social dinner.


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