François Coty

François Coty (born Joseph Marie François Spoturno; 3 May 1874, Ajaccio, Corsica25 July 1934, Louveciennes) was a French perfume manufacturer and the founder of the fascist league Solidarité Française, a paramilitary organization founded in 1933, during Edouard Daladier's government supported by the Cartel des gauches (Left-Wings' Coalition).


He married Yvonne Alexandrine Le Baron in 1900, and took the more French-looking name Coty, a variation on his mother's maiden name, when he moved to Paris.

He began by selling essences derived from flowers in Grasse, and then peddled his scents to the barbers of Paris. His genius, however, was in marketing and in recognizing that the bottle made the perfume. He had bottles designed by the great ceramist René Lalique. His first great successes were his Rose Jacqueminot scent, in a bottle by Baccarat, in 1904 and L'Origan in 1905. One of Coty's greatest success, Chypre (1917), gave its name to an entire fragrance family used in the industry's classifications.

He was one of the wealthiest men in France and owned two Paris newspapers, the working class L'Ami du peuple and the aristocratic Le Figaro. He also bought the hunting pavilion of Louveciennes near Saint-Germain-en-Laye, once the property of Madame du Barry. He built multiple large residences, but lived in a hotel on the Champs-Élysées.

Coty was something of a recluse, disliking crowds of any kind, and hiding behind his public image. The company he founded in 1904 is now Coty, Inc., based in New York City.

The movement he founded drew on the previous Coty-backed far-right leagues the Faisceau and the Croix-de-Feu WWI veterans organization. While Marcel Bucard's Francisme imitated Fascism and Mussolini, Solidarité Française looked more towards the NSDAP Nazi party and Hitler. Never anything but marginal, the group peaked during the February 6, 1934 rally in front of the Palais Bourbon, when it attempted, in alliance with other far right leagues, to topple the Third Republic (Coty had the ambition of having it replaced with a monarchy). The group was outlawed in 1936, through a decision taken by the Popular Front government.

The Stade François Coty in Ajaccio was named after him.

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