How Legends are born
According to the legend, everything begins with a modest present: on 8th October 1792, the young merchant Wilhelm Muelhens receives a wedding gift from a Carthusian monk, namely a secret recipe for an “aqua mirabilis”, a miracle water for both internal and external use.
An industrious merchant and entrepreneur, Muelhens opens a manufactory in the Glockengasse in Cologne soon after his wedding, and initially markets the miracle water as a health drink and vitalising elixir, to be drunk undiluted or mixed with wine.
A Brand receives its Name
Two years after Muehlens’ wedding, Cologne is occupied by French troops. According to legend, 4711 ultimately owes its name to the organisational zeal of the occupiers: in order to put an end to the haphazardly allocated street names and to make it easier to find quarters for his troops, the commanding officer, General Daurier, has all the houses sequentially numbered. Muelhens’ house in the Glockengasse is given the house number 4711 – the name with which the Eau de Cologne is then later “christened”.
From Health Drink to Fragrance
Napoleon decrees that the recipes for all medications intended for internal use must be made public. Muelhens, who does not wish to reveal the secret recipe behind his Kölnisch Wasser, simply begins marketing it as a fragrance rather than a medicament. And he does so successfully: high society is thrilled with the light, refreshing fragrance, and uses 4711 Eau de Cologne not just as a scent but also for their personal hygiene.
So simple yet brilliant
Hexagonal and upright – a new bottle design causes a furore! The “Molanus bottle” (named after the inventor Peter Heinrich Molanus) provides clear advantages over the previous model, the “Rosoli bottle”: the Molanus bottle does not have to be transported lying flat, it can be easily stored and transported, and provides lots of space for a large label. The bottle is sealed with a crown cork, and the opener included with the bottle – how handy!
The Number becomes the Brand
Ferdinand Muelhens registers 4711 as a brand. There are already numerous subsidiaries around the world. The first official logo is clear and memorable. Around 1900, it is given its characteristic addition which continues to exist as a trademark in slightly varied formats to this day.
Successful Fragrance Creations
The perfume “Tosca” is created. In the same year, Chanel launches its new fragrance composition, “Chanel No. 5”, which is based on the newly discovered aldehydes (organic compounds created through the oxidisation of alcohol).
Together with Chanel No. 5, Tosca becomes the world’s best-selling perfume.
A Touch of Provocation
In the 1920s, 4711 is ahead of its time in terms of advertising: special fragrances for special women! The woman who wears 4711 is elegant, glamorous, modern. This poster by Lutz Ehrenberger causes a minor scandal - far too permissive! Even the Archbishop of Cologne gets involved. The poster has to be taken down.
More Variety, please!
The time is ripe for a broader spectrum of products and new brands: the umbrella brand 4711 successfully develops new perfume brands: Portugal and Tosca from the 1920s are followed by Troika (1934), Sparta (1934), Shahi (1935), Sir (1935), and Carat (1938). In “the service of beauty”, many new cosmetic, hair-care and skincare products for men and women are developed. With product innovations which focus on such effects as “wellbeing” and “satisfaction”, 4711 conquers the international markets, and is incidentally also a trailblazer in the area of wellness.
Second World War
Inner-city Cologne is badly hit by British and American carpet bombing in June 1943, with more than 90 percent of the city being destroyed. The headquarters in the Glockengasse also lie in ruins, with the manufacturing plants in Cologne Ehrenfeld up to 80% destroyed.
The Architecture of the Future
The “Blue and Gold House” opposite Cologne Cathedral, and the new, elegant round building of the manufacturing plant in Cologne Ehrenfeld (architects Wilhelm and Rudolf Koep), are built. Their style, their form, and not least their colour reflect the innovative spirit of the age.
An economic Miracle with Style
What has today become a cult object was back then the engine driving an economic miracle: the “Bully”, the T1 model by VW, becomes the most popular form of transport by far in Germany. Popular because of its robustness and reasonable price, it is part of the urban landscape. With its beautiful paint job in the typical 4711 colours, it conveys something more than just enthusiasm for travel, namely a sense of aesthetics and style.
Bottling plants in Japan, Guatemala, and Egypt are opened. 4711 is now represented in many countries, and is now a global brand within the cosmetics industry.
Tradition and Innovation
The newly erected headquarters in the Glockengasse No. 4711 are inaugurated.
First coloured German TV advert
“The rider in the Glockengasse” is Germany’s first television advert to be produced in colour. The advert is broadcast on ZDF on 29th August 1967, and shows the legendary scene of a French soldier writing the house number “4711” on the gate of the Glockengasse. The actor also ends up becoming the 4711 Head of Advertising, as he is the only person who can write the lettering in one go, true to the original.
Fragrances & Effects
With ACQUA COLONIA, 4711 creates a range of fragrances for men and women based on the sensual effects of natural ingredients. With five fragrances initially, the new eaux de cologne aim to make the world a more beautiful pace through fragrances, and to create inspiration for body, emotions, and senses.
From Headquarters to Flagship Store
The sales area in Cologne’s Glockengasse is remodelled: at the heart of the new spatial concept is the individually lit glass wall of Molanus bottles. A gallery and a modern presentation room suitable for events, conferences, and fragrance seminars, perfect the transformation into a pioneering flagship store.
New - NOUVEAU COLOGNE
NOUVEAU COLOGNE, a new fragrance creation, is launched on a symbolically significant date: 4.7.11. The 4711 House of Fragrances thus writes a new chapter in the nearly 220-year-old brand history of what is certainly the world’s most famous eau de cologne, thus creating an inspiring combination of tradition and modernity. It is a feel-good fragrance whose fruity and tangy composition revitalises and inspires the senses
New. Unexpected. Miraculous. 4711 Wunderwasser
In spring 2014, a new fragrance was launched: 4711 Wunderwasser. The famous director Billy Wilder once said: "Anyone who doesn't believe in miracles isn't a realist." Miracles are something special, leaving us amazed for a moment. This is the inspiration behind 4711 Wunderwasser. The women's fragrance enchants with the delicate freshness of lotus blossom, and the men's fragrance inspires with richly faceted driftwood notes.
4711 ARTIST EDITION
4711 celebrated its 222nd birthday on 08.10.2014. To mark the occasion, the street-artist duo Koralie and Supakitch have developed two special editions of the classic fragrance Original Eau de Cologne in an 800 ml bottle. The Artist Edition 2014 consists of two exceptional works of art, available as a limited, hand-signed and numbered edition of 471+1 units per artist.