A French pharmacist has embarked on the manufacture of natural products inspired by those of Marie-Antoinette, from the gardens of Versailles

Perfumes used to mask body odours

Charles Cracco, great admirer of Marie-Antoinette, great lady of another time also keen on natural cosmetics ! Indeed, this young queen, and with her her beauty secrets, is at the origin of a real upheaval in the cosmetic practices of the time (which then consisted only of masking dirt and odors)! Before the “vegetal revolution” initiated by Marie-Antoinette, beauty as conceived by the Court of the Palace of Versailles consisted of two words : make-up and perfume. This is how the Court of Louis XV was nicknamed “Cour Parfumée” in reference to the Marquise de Pompadour, reputed to spend colossal sums of money on… Perfumes! Perfumes which were not then thought of as tools of seduction intended to enhance beauty but used to mask body odors… They were also attributed purifying properties, the belief that they helped get rid of miasma (putrid odors). Indeed, despite the luxury and refinement of Versailles, bathing was not part of the customs: the subjects had recourse to the « dry toilet », changing their clothes about ten times a day. Everything was perfumed: gloves, hair, clothes, handkerchiefs…

Marie-Antoinette was a fan of natural cosmetics
Marie-Antoinette was a fan of natural cosmetics

Madame de Pompadour was totally disfigured

Make-up, too, had good press at the time, for similar reasons: its primary purpose was indeed to hide the grime accumulated due to the lack of grooming, which is why men and women wore it ! However, it had real deleterious effects for the skin, being composed of white lead and mercury salts. And the more the skin was irregular, by dint of using and abusing it, the more it was applied to the skin to hide these imperfections… This is how at only 36 years old, Madame de Pompadour was already totally disfigured ! This did not prevent the courtiers of Louis XV from using again and again these substances, which were harmful to the skin.

Marie-Antoinette’s love for botany

And this is what prompted Marie-Antoinette – beyond her love for botany – to bring plants back into fashion, when it comes to cosmetics. Marie-Antoinette: natural cosmetics in the spotlight Arriving in Versailles in 1770 at the age of only 14, Marie-Antoinette breathes the wind of a return to nature. Under his leadership, the « dry toilet » was abandoned in favor of « la toilette de Flore« , whose fame was such that it gave its name to a work by Pierre-Joseph Buc’Hoz, a famous botanist of the time. . And, in line with this return to nature, cosmetic formulas based on minerals – including those that made up make-up, therefore – are abandoned in favor of natural beauty products based on plant extracts. If many works of the time compile the recipes that sign the revival of natural cosmetics, it is to Jean-Louis Fargeon, the perfumer of Marie-Antoinette himself, that we owe the most complete collection. Charles Cracco was inspired by it to create the formulas of his products.

Plant extracts from the King’s garden

Born in Lille, the pharmacist-creator has been living in Versailles for seven years. With his brand, Mademoiselle Saint Germain, he wants to revolutionize cosmetics. The name « Saint-Germain » is a nod to the Count of Saint-Germain, an alchemist, musician and painter of the 18th century, legend says that he had an elixir that gave him a very very 2000 to 4000 years long ! Its creams are confidential, made from plant extracts grown in the King’s Vegetable Garden : rosemary, thyme, white cucumber. Charles has succeeded in convincing the management of the Palace of Versailles, which opens its gates to him. Charles immersed himself in the Marquise’s correspondence to uncover her mysteries. Created from rosemary, the first range of Mademoiselle Saint Germain, Eclat, was developed in 2017 with this water from the Queen of Hungary. A balm, a lotion and a cream. “Rosemary is purifying, antioxidant and it stimulates the radiance of the complexion, explains Charles Cracco. This water was also used to disinfect wounds. It is even thought that it became the eau de cologne when it fell into the hands of perfumers across the Rhine. »

Mademoiselle Saint-Germain

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