Georgian inventor, chemist and politician, Giorgi Machabeli, is known worldwide as The Prince George Matchabeli and his name is associated with the perfume line developed in the United States, which is why he is often referred to as the “Princess of Perfumes”. The nephew of the famous translator Ivane Machabeli is buried in the Long Island Cemetery in New York, and the perfume line created by him remains one of the oldest and the most demanded perfume products in America.
Giorgi Machabeli was born in 1885 in Tbilisi and educated at the nobiliary gymnasium. He continued his studies at the Berlin Mining Academy, and after graduating from the academy, Giorgi Machabeli traveled throughout the whole world – sometimes he was a sailor, sometimes a driver and sometimes – a courier. Despite a wide range of interests, Machabeli was actively involved in political processes, too and since May 26 of 1918, after the restoration of the Georgian state as a democratic republic, Giorgi Machabeli was the first secretary of the Georgian embassy in Italy, where he lived with his wife – the famous Italian actress – Norina Jill.
In 1922, Machabel moved to the United States and opened an antique shop in New York, named “Red and Black” after Stendhal’s novel, where the couple sold a variety of antiques, including Persian carpets, furniture, Italian and Spanish jewelry. However, later, when he released his first perfume – “Princess Norina” dedicated to his wife, his success overshadowed the antiques business, which pushed Machabeli to take a serious interest in perfume production.
Machabeli launched the Prince Matchabeli perfume line in New York in 1926.
“I make perfumes for America, the Parisian prices of which have never been so acceptable here before, but, in fact, I spent my whole life in the field of chemistry creating perfumes, but just for my own pleasure, however the demand for them was so great that I decided to turn it into business.” (George Machabeli, 1928).
Machabeli was often in the media spotlight, The New-Yorker reported in the 1930s that he used to politely hinting to women if he noticed that they were using an inappropriate perfume and sent one of his products to them showing his respect. In the future, if he noticed that one of those women was still using the old perfume, he jokingly said, “you have not been loyal to me.”
Despite his successful business activities, Machabeli continued to be active in the public sphere and he was one of the first initiators of the establishment of the Georgian community in the United States. Giorgi Machabeli died of pneumonia in 1931, after which his perfume house was first handed over to a physical person and then to the Vicks Chemical Company, although the last product of the perfume house was released in 2002 and still bears the name of Prince Machabeli on the market.
Translation: Tamar Tabatadze
The Hall of Young Scientists & Analysts – “Doctrina”