At KLEIO, our goal is to not only recreate aromas of the past but also to share the fascinating history behind each candle.
The Napoleon & Joséphine candle recreates the aromas of the Emperor and Empress of France's favorite fragrances that were present in their everyday lives.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), also known as Napoleon I, was a French military leader and emperor who conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century. Born on the island of Corsica, Napoleon rapidly rose through the ranks of the military during the French Revolution. After seizing political power in France in a coup d’état, he crowned himself emperor in 1804.
Joséphine de Beauharnais was a 32-year-old mother of two when she met 26-year-old Napoleon in 1795 at a society ball. It was a love match for the ages. Napoleon proposed to Joséphine in January 1796, inundating her with intensely romantic love letters from various military posts around the world with the French army. They eventually married. And thus, a love story for the ages was born. The love affair between Napoleon and Joséphine was so intense their passionate letters have been immortalized in countless books and films.
However, both Joséphine and Napoleon were alleged to have been unfaithful to each other, having several affairs outside of their marriage. Just five years after marrying, and after penning hundreds of passionate letters to the woman who was supposedly the love of his life, Napoleon ended his marriage with Josephine. They were said to still love each other but Napoleon's need for an heir outweighed everything else. In January 1810, Napoleon arranged for the nullification of his marriage on the grounds that a parish priest had not presided over the ceremony. This allowed him to easily end the relationship without displeasing the church with an actual divorce.
Although divorced, the two were said to remain on good terms and Napoleon allowed Joséphine to hold onto the title of Empress. She moved into a private residence near Paris, where she was able to keep up her lavish lifestyle, entertaining high society folk who knew she was still connected with Napoleon, who continued to pay her bills. Sadly Joséphine's life was cut short at the age of 51, when she died of pneumonia, in 1814. Napoleon died seven years later as a British prisoner on the island of Saint Helena in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
No other name would do. Styled akin to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the famous love story between Napoleon and Joséphine ranks among the most passionate love stories in history.
Imagine you are eavesdropping on a conversation between Napoleon and Joséphine. Her room is lavishly appointed, arrangements of hyacinth are distributed throughout, resting in decadent vases. The sweet floral aromas wafting in the air blend with Joséphine's favorite fragrances, a mélange of violet and jasmine, which she had applied earlier in the day. As he sits in the chair beside her, Napoleon reaches for his gilded snuffbox to breathe in the contents of powdered tobacco.
In creating Napoleon & Joséphine, we extensively researched the aromas of their time, specifically focusing on the fragrances that would be present in their everyday lives.
Napoleon's perfumer Gervais Chardin is reported to have provided the emperor and empress of France copious amounts of perfumes. A quarterly bill for 1806 shows Chardin supplied Napoleon with 162 bottles of perfume, costing 423 francs, approximately $5,000 US dollars in today's money.
In Chardin's records, there are also bills for large bottles of jasmine, a favorite of Joséphine's, as well as violet-scented perfumes, which she wore throughout her life. Complementing her daily perfume ritual, Joséphine followed the French fashion of the day by keeping vases of scented flowers in her rooms. She was particularly fond of hyacinths.
Napoleon was famous for his love of smelling things, so much so that the historian Norman Davies has called him an “unabashed odomane,” a French term that references a proclivity for inhaling aromas. His imperial nose was much given to the intake of snuff, or powdered tobacco. Napoleon bought prodigious amounts of powdered tobacco and possessed a large collection of snuffboxes to hold it. Witnesses reported that he would always hold a pinch of snuff under his nose and, after inhaling, drop it, leaving a tobacco trail everywhere he went.
Like his wife, Napoleon's olfactory passions extended to violets, too. Days after his return from exile on Elba, Napoleon visited Malmaison and collected violets from Josephine’s garden. He would wear them in a locket until his death, a reminder of their tumultuous love.
KLEIO's limited edition Napoleon & Joséphine candle features fragrance notes of wild hyacinth, violets of Toulouse, jasmine, and tobacco.
Napoleon and Joséphine
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