Brocard bottle displaying Romanov crest.
In the early part of the 19th Century, Atanas Brocard owned a small perfumery in Paris but was unable to compete with the larger, more established perfumeries such as L.T. Piver and Guerlain. To expand his business, he traveled to the United States but, after failing to make profitable business connections, he returned to France. (Colgate, established in 1806, was to become the soap and perfume powerhouse in America.) It was destined that Brocard's son, Henry, be the one to expand the family business. Interestingly, like Henry Brocard, William Colgate and Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain both started their careers by studying soapmaking.
Henry Brocard married Sharlotte Reve, a Belgian woman who had been educated in Moscow and was acquainted with Russian traditions. Brocard opened his Moscow soap and perfume business in 1864. (His competition, A. Rallet & Co., had been established in Moscow in 1843, but was more focused on perfume.) By the end of the 19th Century, Brocard had become the largest soapmaker in Europe.
Brocard became official supplier to both the Russian and Spanish courts. Brocard, a skilled marketer, introduced soaps in many varieties including a round soap and soap for children, with the letters of the alphabet printed in the soap itself. Brocard's perfumes included Bouquet of the Empress and Flowering. Roure Bertrand Fils, of Grasse, was one of Brocard's largest suppliers.
In 1917, after the Russian Revolution, Brocard became "Soap and Perfumery Factory No. 5". In 1922 it was rechristened "Novaya Zarya" (New Sunrise). Their first perfume under the new corporate name was launched under the name Red Moscow. The compound for Red Moscow was developed in 1913 by "a well known perfumer". Prior to the Russian Revolution, Russia was home to several well known perfumers including Ernest Beaux, of A. Rallet & Co. who, in 1921, created Chanel's No. 5, and, of course, there was Henry Brocard himself.
For many years after the Russian Revolution, Polina Zhemchuzhina, wife of Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov (recall the Molotov Cocktail) and best friend of Stalin's wife, directed the Novaya Zarya factory until, in 1948, Stalin caused her to be arrested for treason. She remained imprisoned until after Stalin's death.
Novaya Zarya continues to produce Red Moscow today.
If you have any information on Brocard, the Brocard family or Novaya Zarya, please share it with us using the message sender below.
Comments On This Article
Add Your Comment
Can a drop of perfume tell the story of the twentieth century? Can a smell bear the traces of history? What can we learn about the history of the twentieth century by examining the fate of perfumes? In this remarkable book, Karl Schlögel unravels the interconnected histories of two of the world's most celebrated perfumes.