In one story a man named Giovanni Maria Farina of Italian descent who lived in Köln, Germany is said to have created the first cologne in 1709. He named it ‘Eau de Cologne’ (water from Cologne) after the city of Köln in which he was living.
Giovanni is said to have used a variety of citrus oils and flowers of lavender and jasmine including herbs such as rosemary and thyme in making the cologne. It was mainly the rich who were able to afford it and even the great Napoleon is said to have used it.
*Giovanni Maria Farina's 'germanized' name was Johann Maria Farina.
Another story reveals it was actually Giovanni’s uncle Gian Paolo Feminis who first invented cologne for men.
The story goes that Feminis left Italy and settled down in Germany where he worked as a barber. Soon after he invented eau de cologne made from a combination of ‘grape spirits’ and oils taken from lavender, rosemary, neroli and bergamot. He named the cologne ‘Aqua Admirabilis’ and released it in 1709.
The new invention became such a hit Feminis was unable to keep up with the demand from customers and had to hire his nephew Giovanni Maria Farina from Italy to help with production.
Nearly 3 decades later in 1732 Giovanni is said to have taken over his uncle’s business and began selling eau de cologne as a remedy for stomach ailments and ‘bleeding gums.’