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J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin A New Era of Scent in Berlin

Saturday, March 08 2014

It all started in 1856 when piano maker Joachim Friedrich Schwarzlose opened up a drug store that advanced to being the local purveyor by appointment within just 40 years. While pure scents such as violet, rose, or lily of the valley are what he started with, customers demanded more and more imaginative ‘fantasy scents’ during the 1920s.

And time has proven him right: in what feels like a glimpse of an eye, his contemporary creations got the business international recognition. The royal purveyor’s scents even made it to Beijing’s Forbidden City, where one of his famous vials is still on display in the museum. China’s last emperor, Pu Yi, used to wear it. And so did international stars such as Josephine Baker, and even the German Emperor was among the royal perfumer’s high end clientele.

Because of war and the Third Reich taking their toll on people, the business had to close from 1943 through 1947. In 1976, the Moabit premises were demolished, and business had not been resumed since, due to the lack of successors. But in 2012, after years of thorough research, J.F.Schwarzlose was reincarnated by flacon designer Lutz Herrmann and Tamas Tagscherer. They cooperate with French perfumer Véronique Nyberg, who specializes in revitalizing ancient fragrances by re-interpreting their notes, as well as creating new ones.


Only the purest ingredients make into one of their beautifully minimalist vials, all produced exclusively in Germany and sealed with a heavy brass lid. Just recently, Tagscherer received a letter from a customer in Austria, writing how her 91-year old grandmother had instantly recognized her favorite ‘1A-33’ scent that she’d been looking to find for so many years now.

Scents such as TREFFPUNKT 8 UHR, RAUSCH oder TRANCE, roughly translating to Rendez-Vous at 8, High and well, Trance, took me back in time, to the smokey bars of the Golden Twenties and a Berlin version of ‘Arabian Nights’. In the end however, I went with Véronique Nyberg’s newest creation ‘ZEITGEIST’, that’s been giving me tiny moments of joy every time I smell the scent on my skin.

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