It began with Albert Fouquet, a young Parisian aristocrat, in the early 20th Century. Albert was a perfume connoisseur who loved to blend his own essences, on the top floor of the family chateau. (Aided by Philippe, the family butler, so we’re told.)
The formula for the Cologne showcased here was born out of a trip to Chile that Albert Fouquet made. He went plant-hunting in the Andes for aromatic elements to add to his fragrances. One key ‘find’ was a plant he named ‘Andrea’: a wild plant which grows at high altitude, in a very small region, and can only been picked during the months of December and January. It’s this precious plant which Albert placed at the heart of his scent.
His social circle loved the fragrance he’d created – but Albert didn’t want to market it. Then one night on the French Riviera, during his summer vacation, Albert met and got on incredibly well with a young American student who was touring France in his convertible car. His name was John F. Kennedy. JFK was, we’re told, ‘captivated’ by the scent his new friend was wearing, and persuaded him to leave a sample of the Cologne at his hotel. The note apparently teased: ‘In this bottle, you will find the dash of French glamour that your American personality lacks.’
When he returned to Paris after the holiday, Albert got a letter from John, thanking him for the gift – and requesting eight samples, for his friends. ‘And,’ he added, ‘if your production allows, another one for Bob.’ (The family’s name for Robert F. Kennedy, the future President’s brother…) Albert searched for some beautiful glass bottles and eventually found some in a Parisian pharmacy which he felt were worthy of his Cologne. Last but not least, he ordered boxes for the Colognes, decorated with the same pattern as the shirt JFK was wearing, when they met. And so EIGHT & BOB was born.
To his astonishment, commissions started arriving via letter from Hollywood, from actors like James Stewart and Cary Grant. They’d happened upon EIGHT & BOB through acquaintance with JFK‘s father, who’d once been involved in the movie industry.
And then tragedy. Albert Fouquet died in a car accident in Biarritz in spring 1939. Philippe, his butler, continued dispatching orders for a while, until World War II put an end to his employment with the Fouquets. The final shipments were hidden in books, carefully hand-cut to prevent the Nazis from confiscating the Cologne.
Thanks to the family of Philippe, that stalwart butler, the formula has now been recovered, along with details of its artisan production. (And if you like, there is the romantic option of buying a bottle of EIGHT & BOB ‘hidden’ in a book.) Even today, supplies of that very special Andean ingredient are limited – which in turn decides the number of bottles of EIGHT & BOB which can be produced in any given year, depending on that harvest.
Right now, we’re not featuring many ‘men’s’ Colognes on The Perfume Society website (though watch this space!) – but this is so eminently ‘borrowable’, and its story so touching, that how could we resist…?
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