In the middle ages, Grasse specialized in leather tanning. Once tanned, the hides were often exported to Genoa or Pisa, cities that shared a commercial alliance with Grasse. Several centuries of this intense activity witnessed many technological advances within tanning industries. The hides of Grasse acquired a reputation for high quality. But the leather smelled badly, something that did not please the glove wearing nobility. This is when Galimard, a tanner in Grasse came up with the idea of scented leather gloves. He offered a pair of scented gloves to Catherine de Medici who was seduced by the gift. Thereafter, the product spread through the Royal Court and high society, and this made a worldwide reputation for Grasse.
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The seventeenth century became the heyday of “Glovers Perfumers’. However, high taxes on leather and competition from Nice brought a decline for the leather industry in Grasse, and production of leather fragrance ceased. The rare scents from the Grasse (lavender, myrtle, jasmine, rose, orange blossom and wild mimosa) did win the title for the Grasse as the perfume capital of the world. Harvesting jasmine was a labour-intensive business only a few decades ago. Flowers had to be handpicked at dawn, when their scent is the most developed and immediately to be treated by cold enfleurage.