Johann Maria Farina

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Johann Maria Farina 1685–1766
Letter for one of the orders of Farina's new fragrance 1716
Invoice for Eau de Cologne 1763
Town hall tower in Cologne with statue of Johann Maria Farina, left side 2nd floor
Statue of Johann Maria Farina in the Cologne Town Hall.
Johann Maria Farina
Johann Maria Farina Street on Cologne
Bronze of Johann Maria Farina
Casa Farina in Santa Maria Maggiore
Via G.M.Farina in Santa Maria Maggiore
Gravestone of Johann Maria Farina in the Melaten-Friedhof cemetery in Cologne.

Giovanni Maria Farina (Germanized name: Johann Maria Farina, Francized: Jean Marie Farina) was an Italian perfume designer and maker, born on 8 December 1685, in the town of Santa Maria Maggiore. He died on 25 November 1766 in Cologne, Germany.

Farina settled down in Cologne, Germany in the year 1709 where he founded Farina gegenüber, the world’s oldest perfume factory still in existence. His subtle fragrance Eau de Cologne became rapidly famous worldwide and in the 18th century was an indispensable accessory at all royal courts. The perfume maker chose to call his perfume after his new home town so as to honour it. Indeed, at the time when Farina first moved to Cologne, there were very strict laws regarding foreign settlers. Farina was granted citizenship and, in order to show off his gratitude, he named his very first creation Eau de Cologne (lit. French: "Water of Cologne"). This perfume, being a real sensation at the time, contributed to Cologne’s global fame.

Being the very first perfume of its kind on the market, the word "Cologne" quickly became a household name.

Cologne refers to a perfume which is usually refreshingly light, unisex with a citrus-based head note.

The explanation as to why the perfume was given a French name is rather simple: In the 17th and 18th century, the French language was spoken in European high society and also used by tradesmen, which explains Farina's name decision. Counterfeits of the perfume only appeared at the end of the 18th century. After the French Revolution, Napoleon’s troops occupied Cologne for a number of years and introduced freedom of trade. Back then, registered trademarks did not exist, which explains why there were so many counterfeits.

It was in those days that the name Farina chose to give his exclusive perfume was forever lost.

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