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Company Info

History of Pinaud, Clubman et. al

Edouard Pinaud was born in Northern France between 1805-1810. The exact date is unknown, but the "Since 1810" script prominent on Pinaud bottle labels is a slight misnomer. Ed. Pinaud set out at a young age to learn the art of perfumery, and by 1830 he established his first shop in the heart of Paris' perfume district. His perfumes were already well known, but in 1833 he had his first success in cologne with his Lilac Vegetol fragrance, which was reportedly such a big hit with Napoleon and his army that Pinaud was elected Royal Parfumer. The only problem with that legend is that Napoleon died in 1821, twelve years before Lilac Vegetol was introduced. (Never one to shy from publicity, Pinaud himself never denied the rumor). The tale was later amended to involve Napoleon the Third, who indeed was alive at the time, but not living in France, nor in control of the Hungarian Army. What is true, is that Pinaud was given the first royal patent by the court of Queen Victoria as the sole importer of perfumes, an honor that was followed by several other European monarchies of the time. Pinaud found himself in the enviable position of sole importer of fragrances to a majority of Europe.

Around this time Pinaud took over the Legrand Parfume House, a successful and prominent fragrance distillery that was established in 1810 (hence the "since 1810" moniker). Worldwide distribution of Pinaud perfumes had begun, and were becoming a household name. His most successful import to the U.S. was the Eau De Quinine hair tonic, which was a mainstay at nearly every barber shop in the country. His colognes were quite pricey for the American market, and so he went to work formulating low cost alternatives to the regular Pinaud line. Early American products were the "Roman Smelling Salt Perfumes" (a direct ancestor of the Clubman line), introduced in 1895, and Pinaud Bay Rum, introduced in 1900. An 1889 price list features "Lilas de France", the ancestor of Lilac Vegetal, as well as cosmetics, bath soaps, and toothpastes.



The Roman line was a powder based concoction that required water or alcohol to activate, sort of a perfume "Kool Aid" packet. It was a popular routine in the time to powder ones handkerchief, and when dabbed about the face through the day the powder mixed with perspiration resulted in a fragrant, cologne-like reaction. The Roman line was fairly popular, and available in a number of different floral varieties. This inexpensive, powdered fragrance gave inspiration to the Clubman line over a quarter of a century later. Also around this time, Pinaud introduced Brilliantine, the worlds first hair conditioner. Ed. Pinaud died shortly thereafter.

Aside from their perfumes and hair tonics, Pinaud had not yet established an American presence in the cologne marketplace yet. Their Bay Rum was a big hit in the barbershop, but not in the streets. It was decided that they could never truly break the American market unless Pinaud opened its own distillery in the US. In 1920, Pinaud opened its American branch on 5th Avenue, New York City. The Ed. Pinaud Building, as it was known, was an elaborate, million dollar construct that opened to great fanfare. Later on in the decade, the Great Depression had little effect on the Pinaud company as they were known mainly for their high dollar perfumes, which most of their customer base could still afford. It wasn't until 1933 that Pinaud began to reach the "common man" with their introduction of the low priced, re-formulated Lilac Vegetol aftershave which ended up being a big hit. They also began selling their Bay Rum in department stores.

A conflict of interest rippled between the New York house and the Paris house, as the French distillery did not want to be associated with American "Toilet Water". Victor Klotz, Ed. Pinaud's son-in-law, ran the New York branch and felt that there was more middle class men that would appreciate Pinaud fragrance in their homes than wealthy, lady socialites. To break away from the French parent branch, the Ed. Pinaud building was renamed "Klotz Family Business Co." which it remained for many years. In order to still keep their prestigious Parfume heritage unmarred, Klotz came to the decision that he would refrain from advertising the new budget line, instead marketing it exclusively to barbers and letting word of mouth sell his line. So by around 1940 the Clubman line, which consisted of aftershave, talc, hair tonic, shampoo and soap, hit the shops and established itself as one of the finest moderately priced mens grooming brands around. By the 1950s, Clubman aftershave could be found in many homes in the country, though it was never mass marketed on the level of Aqua Velva, Old Spice, and Skin Bracer. It was an "in the know" product; what the fellows at the county club and the golf resort used.

Pinaud in Europe took note of the popularity of the Clubman line in the US and began to gravitate away from expensive ladies perfumes and started concentrating on mens colognes and aftershaves. The essences were "dumbed down" a notch or two in order to sell at a cheaper rate. This muting of top notes is what gave Pinaud its famous, powdery base note. Such a practice was frowned upon at the time, as an overly powdered cologne held a "cheap" connotation to it. Only Pinaud of Paris still shied away from the cheaper fragrances, still selling premium perfumes and colognes. The other, re-formulated budget scents began to be exported from the US back into Europe, as there was a strong demand for the Clubman line and its brethren. (To illustrate the bizarre chain of supply; Pinaud of Paris would export the essences to the US, who in turn would reformulate the essence into a budget cologne. The US would then ship the fragrance back into France, who would in turn distribute "American" Pinaud to the rest of Europe, all the while protesting the American blend as inferior!)

As a side note, Ian Fleming's famous literary character James Bond was fond of the Pinaud line. In the 1953 novel Casino Royale he used Pianud Elixer Shampoo (known today as Clubman Country Club shampoo) daily. He referred to it as "That prince among shampoos". Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum, and Henry Fonda were also said to use Clubman.

The Clubman line hit the peak of its popularity in the US during the 1960s when it began being distributed nationwide in department stores and pharmacies. But by the 1970s, awash in a sea of Brut and Hai Karate, Pinaud was losing market share and was sold to American International Industries. The essences stayed basically the same, with AII marketing budget, plastic bottled Pinaud products under the Jeri's and Lustray line.

By the 1990s, the decision was made to go to all plastic bottles for the entire Pinaud line; a decision that left a lot of Pinaud fans upset. The essences were all reformulated to compensate for the absorbency of plastic, which in most cases meant substituting real citrus and floral extracts for synthetic knock-offs. Regular Clubman weathered the change fairly intact, while the most noticeable differences being Lilac Vegetol, Lime Sec, Citrus Musk, and Vanilla Musk. These fragrances were built upon their genuine respective ingredients, and the newer formulations tend to smell like cheap, synthetic knock offs.

Today, Pinaud occupies a strong presence in the wetshaving community, a grass-roots "back to basics" return to traditional shaving routines and products. However, distribution is still a spotty issue in America, with no less than three companies claiming exclusive rights to package and produce the Clubman line. Pinaud of France is also rumored to be in an upheaval. Supposedly, they have been absorbed by an umbrella company that has no plans to market fragrances. AII also has a UK branch that distributes Clubman, though reports of the Pinaud line being hard to find in the UK have lead to speculation that the AII branch there is now just a puppet company.

Even with these hurdles, Pinaud is readily available online and through some national pharmaceutical chains such as Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS. Vintage stock is often available through online merchant sites such as Ebay. Certain brands such as the short lived YU cologne and the original Lime Sec, Special Reserve (also known as Napoleon), and Lilac Vegetol can command a premium price, as the abundance of these original formulations is steadily decreasing.

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