Albert Fouquet, the son of a Parisian aristocrat, was part of elite French society in the early twentieth century and a perfume connoisseur. In a room on the upper floor of the family chateau, Fouquet created and perfected various essences for his personal use – aided by Philippe, the family butler. At social events, he would surprise everyone with an exquisite fragrance that became increasingly in demand within the exclusive social circle he frequented. In 1934 he created a sublime fragrance from delicate flowers harvested from the Andes Mountains in Chile. However, Fouquet continually rejected proposals to market his fragrance. One night during his summer vacation in 1937 on the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Albert met and got on very well with a young American student who was touring France in a convertible, John F. Kennedy. Within minutes of being introduced, the vain JFK was captivated by the essence that Albert wore. John’s charm and congeniality persuaded Albert to leave him a sample of his cologne with a note at the hotel the following morning: “In this bottle, you will find the dash of French glamour that your American personality lacks.” On returning from his vacation, Albert received a letter from John in America thanking him for the kind gesture and informing him of the success his perfume was enjoying among his friends. He requested that Albert send him “eight bottles, and if your production allows, another one for Bob.” Albert’s perfectionism extended not only to the fragrance but everything surrounding it. He didn’t fill the order until Philippe found some beautiful glass bottles in a Parisian pharmacy that Albert considered suitable for his cologne. Finally, he procured several boxes decorated with the same pattern as the shirt that JFK was wearing when they met, he labeled the bottles and boxes with John’s amusing request, “EIGHT & BOB.” A few months later, Albert was surprised when he began receiving letters from America with requests from various Hollywood directors, producers, and actors such as Cary Grant and James Stewart. Everyone wanted the EIGHT & BOB cologne they had discovered through John’s father. He had maintained relationships with well-known stars because of his previous business ventures in the movie industry. EIGHT & BOB has become one of the most exclusive colognes, preferred by the world’s most elegant men.
“With too much insistence and for too long, it seems that we have renounced personal excellence and community values in favour of the mere accumulation of earthly goods. Our GDP has exceeded $800 billion a year, but that GDP – if we judge the US by it – also includes air pollution, cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of weekend carnage. The GDP counts the special locks for our doors and the prisons for those who try to force them. It includes Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and television programs that exalt violence in order to sell toys to our children. It grows with the production of napalm, missiles and nuclear warheads and only increases when popular slums are rebuilt on their ashes. It includes police armored cars to cope with urban uprisings. The GDP does not take into account the health of our families, the quality of their education or the joy of their leisure time. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, the solidity of family values or the intelligence of our debate. The GDP measures neither our wit, nor our courage, nor our wisdom, nor our knowledge, nor our compassion, nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in a nutshell, except what makes life truly worth living. He can tell us all about America, but not if we can be proud to be American.