PARIS — Coty, a name that has resonated in the world of beauty for the past 100 years, owes its origins to its founder, François Coty. Coty was, however, born François Marie Joseph Spoturno in Corsica in 1874.

Raised by his grandmother after he was orphaned as a young boy, the French entrepreneur later tweaked his mother’s maiden name, Coti, to become Coty. That name was more marketable than Spoturno, noted Orla Healy in “Coty: Perfumer and Visionary,” a book that is being published by Editions Assouline and is set to hit shelves this month.

Coty, who numbered Napoleon’s aunt, Isabelle Bonaparte, and a count among his ancestors, left Corsica for Marseille where, after a period in the military, he worked as a haberdashery salesman and a journalist. From there he moved to Paris to work as a parliamentary attaché. While searching for business opportunities, he spotted an opening in the fragrance industry and later visited Grasse, where he studied perfumery and began concocting his own scents.

Armed with the knowledge he had acquired in Grasse, the heartland of French perfumery, and a loan from his grandmother, Coty returned to Paris with the aim of making accessibly priced prestige fragrances.

“François focused at first on targeting middle-class women who could afford perfume, yet for whom it was still a self-conscious, special purchase,” Healy wrote. “Even though he wanted to make the market for his products as wide as possible, he still wanted ‘Coty’ to spell prestige.”

He set up a laboratory in an apartment he shared with his wife, Yvonne Le Baron, with whom he had two children. While Coty acted as both perfumer and salesman for the couple’s nascent business, his wife embroidered pouches for sample bottles.

Coty encountered stiff resistance from retailers when he tried to launch his early scents. Indeed, it was after a rejection by a Parisian store manager that the brand found its feet. According to Healy, after Coty smashed a flacon of La Rose Jacqueminot on a counter at the Grand Magasins du Louvre, customers — intrigued by its aroma — began snapping up bottles of the fragrance. The scent became a bestseller, and Coty’s business expanded to include new headquarters, a laboratory in the Paris suburb of Neuilly and additional sales staff. Meanwhile, he continued to concoct new scents, among them Vertige, Idylle, L’Ambre Antique, L’Origan and Le Jasmin de Corse.

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