THE STORY BEHIND GRAVEL NEW YORK 1957

A brand that has rolled through the decades, looking back on a vivid past and standing on the precipice of a brilliant future. Since its creation in 1957, Gravel has seen the trends come and go, but has always remained true to itself:
 Strong, elegant, unaltered.
 
 Fragrances which defy time, like the gravel in each bottle. Read the rich history of one of the oldest still existing American perfume brands and its creator.

How it all started

The beginning
The Beginning
La Fondazione

Michael B. Knudsen, the creator of Gravel perfumes started working on his first fragrance in the 1950’s. His scents reflect his extraordinary journey through life. Born in 1911 in Scandinavia, Michael Knudsen travelled Across the Ocean in the 1920’s and emigrated into the USA. A young man, pursuing the American Dream. It was the golden era of Hollywood and Knudsen was seduced by the promises of the dream factory. The charismatic, good looking young man played parts in numerous productions and came under the spell of the glittering world of show business. This period deeply influenced his exquisite taste, his penchant for beauty and his extravagant lifestyle. He connected with many illustrious personalities and members of the high society.

Michael B. Knudsen, the creator of GRAVEL perfumes started working on his first fragrance in the 1950’s. His scents reflect his extraordinary journey through life. Born in 1911 in Scandinavia, Michael Knudsen travelled Across the Ocean in the 1920’s and emigrated into the USA. A young man, pursuing the American Dream. It was the golden era of Hollywood and Knudsen was seduced by the promises of the dream factory.

Un marchio che ha attraversato i decenni, guardando indietro ad un vivido passato e in piedi sull'orlo di un brillante futuro. Dalla sua creazione nel 1957, Gravel ha visto le tendenze andare e venire, ma è sempre rimasto fedele a se stesso:

Forte, elegante, inalterato.

The charismatic, good looking young man played parts in numerous productions and came under the spell of the glittering world of show business. This period deeply influenced his exquisite taste, his penchant for beauty and his extravagant lifestyle. He connected with many illustrious personalities and members of the high society.

The charismatic, good looking young man played parts in numerous productions and came under the spell of the glittering world of show business. This period deeply influenced his exquisite taste, his penchant for beauty and his extravagant lifestyle. He connected with many illustrious personalities and members of the high society.

Ogni fragranza riflette virtualmente la sua vita straordinaria. Nato in Scandinavia nel 1911, Michael B. Knudsen ha attraversato l'oceano (ACROSS THE OCEAN) per raggiungere l'America negli anni Venti. Un giovane che, come molti della sua generazione, ha ceduto alla promessa del sogno americano (AMERICAN DREAM). Era l'epoca d'oro di Hollywood e anche Knudsen subì il fascino dell'industria cinematografica. Il giovane carismatico e affascinante ha recitato in diverse produzioni cinematografiche ed è entrato in contatto con il sofisticato mondo dello spettacolo. Questo ha plasmato il suo gusto squisito, la sua inclinazione per il bello e il suo stile di vita stravagante. Da questo periodo sono nati molti legami con personaggi illustri e membri dell'élite sociale.

Those experiences, his European roots and the resulting tension of the classics of style and elegance meeting the new modern forces of a dynamic post war society, inspired his wish to transport something from the classic and elegant era, without denying the upheaval of the late 1950’s. Impelled by his vision and supported by Hazel Guggenheim, the concept for his first creation Gravel A Man’s Cologne took shape in New York. Back than it would become the first men’s perfume from the USA. Of course, at this point neither Knudsen nor Hazel Guggenheim realized, how big the influence of Gravel would be on the American perfume industry.

Those experiences, his European roots and the resulting tension of the classics of style and elegance meeting the new modern forces of a dynamic post war society, inspired his wish to transport something from the classic and elegant era, without denying the upheaval of the late 1950’s. Impelled by his vision and supported by Hazel Guggenheim, the concept for his first creation GRAVEL A Man’s Cologne took shape in New York. Back than it would become the first men’s perfume from the USA. Of course, at this point neither Knudsen nor Hazel Guggenheim realized, how big the influence of GRAVEL would be on the American perfume industry.

Queste esperienze, le sue radici europee e la conseguente tensione tra questo stile "classico" e le nuove forze della società, risvegliarono in lui il desiderio di trasportare qualcosa di tutto ciò nella nuova era americana, senza negare l'incipiente sconvolgimento della fine degli anni Cinquanta. Sentiva il bisogno di un profumo che racchiudesse tutte queste esperienze, convinzioni e promesse.

He dedicated his life until his death at the age of 98 to Gravel. Thanks to Knudsen Gravel became a legend.
A legend that walks among us to this day. One could say, that thanks to Michael Knudsen, Americas whole perfume industry benefited from his pioneer spirit and his visionary genius. Until this day, every bottle is filled by hand and becomes unique by adding gravel from the Hudson River. Since the first bottle ever was sold in New York’s 46th street in 1957, Michael B. Knudsen lives on, through enthusiasts wearing of his perfumes. In his more than 60 years in the perfume business, he developed numerous fragrances for women, men and unisex fragrances.

He dedicated his life until his death at the age of 98 to GRAVEL. Thanks to Knudsen GRAVEL became a legend.

A legend that walks among us to this day. One could say, that thanks to Michael Knudsen, Americas whole perfume industry benefited from his pioneer spirit and his visionary genius. Until this day, every bottle is filled by hand and becomes unique by adding GRAVEL from the Hudson River. Since the first bottle ever was sold in New York’s 46th street in 1957, Michael B. Knudsen lives on, through enthusiasts wearing of his perfumes. In his more than 60 years in the perfume business, he developed numerous fragrances for women, men and unisex fragrances.

Spinto dalla sua visione e sostenuto da Hazel Guggenheim, il concetto del suo primo profumo, GRAVEL A MAN'S COLOGNE, è nato gradualmente a New York. All'epoca, si trattava del primo profumo maschile proveniente dagli Stati Uniti. Fino ad allora c'erano stati solo dopobarba e simili. A questo punto, né Knudsen né Guggenheim si resero conto di quanto grande sarebbe stata l'influenza di Gravel sul resto della sua vita e sul mondo dei profumi in America. Ha dedicato il resto della sua vita allo sviluppo di Gravel, mettendo tutto il suo carisma, le sue conoscenze e la sua energia al servizio del suo marchio. Si può dire che lo spirito pionieristico e il genio visionario di Knudsen abbiano giovato all'intera industria dei profumi in America. Ogni flacone viene ancora riempito a mano ed è reso unico dalla ghiaia del fiume Hudson. Da quando il primo flacone è stato venduto sulla 46a strada a New York nel 1957, Michael B. Knudsen è stato ricordato per ognuna delle sue fragranze. Nei suoi oltre 60 anni di attività nel settore della profumeria, ha sviluppato numerose fragranze per donna, uomo e, in seguito, anche unisex.

The First Fragrance
The First Fragrance
Il Primo Profumo

In the early 1950’s the usage of perfume was rather uncommon in the USA. But Knudsen would not be denied his dream. He had set his sights high, wanting to create a fragrance whose scent, design and name created a product so exceptional that it could overcome the prejudices towards perfumes. These high goals and dedication to quality, with an attention to detail down to every level of production, lead to a time and energy consuming development process.

In the early 1950’s the usage of perfume was rather uncommon in the USA. But Knudsen would not be denied his dream. He had set his sights high, wanting to create a fragrance whose scent, design and name created a product so exceptional that it could overcome the prejudices towards perfumes. These high goals and dedication to quality, with an attention to detail down to every level of production, lead to a time and energy consuming development process.

Negli anni '50, l'uso del profumo non era molto diffuso negli Stati Uniti. Era molto insolito, soprattutto per gli uomini, e si usavano solo i dopobarba. Knudsen voleva creare una fragranza, un classico che fosse al tempo stesso distintivo e senza tempo. Voleva un profumo il cui odore, design, nome e aspetto formassero un'unità e che tuttavia fosse così speciale da superare tutti i pregiudizi dell'epoca nei confronti dei profumi. Dovrebbe rimanere nella memoria di tutti coloro che lo hanno tenuto tra le mani.

The outcome was a perfume of such a high quality that its production price exceeded market expectation by a long shot. Knudsen now, saw himself confronted with the problem, that the regular marketing and sales approach was unfeasible. Refusing to compromise one iota of quality for quantity, Gravel was one of the first perfumes that was to be marketed directly and sold only at the most exclusive boutiques. It was already a niche fragrance, when the term didn’t exist. It’s Knudsen’s personal achievement, that Gravel Cologne has enjoyed many years of continuing popularity. Thanks to his impressive demeanour and his eventful life, Gravel is one of the oldest still available fragrances of the USA and has given the world numerous classic fragrances.

The outcome was a perfume of such a high quality that its production price exceeded market expectation by a long shot. Knudsen now, saw himself confronted with the problem, that the regular marketing and sales approach was unfeasible. Refusing to compromise one iota of quality for quantity, GRAVEL was one of the first perfumes that was to be marketed directly and sold only at the most exclusive boutiques. It was already a niche fragrance, when the term didn’t exist. It’s Knudsen’s personal achievement, that GRAVEL Cologne has enjoyed many years of continuing popularity. Thanks to his impressive demeanour and his eventful life, GRAVEL is one of the oldest still available fragrances of the USA and has given the world numerous classic fragrances.

Questa richiesta incondizionata di qualità fin nei minimi dettagli ha portato a un processo di sviluppo estenuante e lungo, nel corso del quale il progetto "Gravel" ha rischiato più volte di fallire. Il risultato fu una fragranza di qualità così eccellente che il prezzo di produzione superava quello di un normale profumo. Knudsen si trovò ora di fronte al problema che il marketing classico sembrava impraticabile. Gravel è stato quindi uno dei primi profumi ad essere venduto solo a rivenditori selezionati e attraverso la vendita diretta. Da allora è stato considerato un co-fondatore dei profumi di nicchia. È solo grazie a Michael Knudsen, alla sua tenacia e alla sua passione, che GRAVEL è stato realizzato con successo nonostante tutte le avversità e che la casa ha regalato al mondo numerosi classici.

The Early Years
The Early Years
I Primi Anni

Knudsen wanted to bring the first three bottles ever produced to a befriended editor at NBC, hoping to expose his brand. On the way he happened to pass by F.R. Tripler at 46th street and Madison Avenue. Founded in 1886, Tripler was one of the finest destinations in Manhattan for finery, serving across generations. He entered the shop, to offer Gravel for their perusal. The salesmen didn’t take him seriously and asked him, what nerve he had, hoping his perfume could just be included to their assortment two weeks prior to Christmas. Fortune favors the bold. As it happened, the buyer for toiletries was standing nearby and heard the brouhaha. The buyer (Mr. Borger) saw and sampled the scent and was sold immediately, Gravel became one of their best sellers. Since that day Gravel is only available at the most exclusive boutiques. The cologne quickly built up its legend, garnering numerous features in the media. Dave Garroway, then the host of NBC’s Today Show, Hermione Gingold, Jack Parr, Johnny Carson and many more entertainers introduced the product on their shows. Over the years, a group of loyal enthusiasts developed including numerous stars and actors. Gravel’s success was often called responsible for the boom of fragrances in the USA in the 1960’s.

Knudsen wanted to bring the first three bottles ever produced to a befriended editor at NBC, hoping to expose his brand. On the way he happened to pass by F.R. Tripler at 46th street and Madison Avenue. Founded in 1886, Tripler was one of the finest destinations in Manhattan for finery, serving across generations. He entered the shop, to offer GRAVEL for their perusal. The salesmen didn’t take him seriously and asked him, what nerve he had, hoping his perfume could just be included to their assortment two weeks prior to Christmas. Fortune favors the bold. As it happened, the buyer for toiletries was standing nearby and heard the brouhaha. The buyer (Mr. Borger) saw and sampled the scent and was sold immediately, GRAVEL became one of their best sellers. Since that day GRAVEL is only available at the most exclusive boutiques. The cologne quickly built up its legend, garnering numerous features in the media. Dave Garroway, then the host of NBC’s Today Show, Hermione Gingold, Jack Parr, Johnny Carson and many more entertainers introduced the product on their shows. Over the years, a group of loyal enthusiasts developed including numerous stars and actors. GRAVEL’s success was often called responsible for the boom of fragrances in the USA in the 1960’s.

Dopo aver completato la fragranza nel 1957, quando Knudsen volle regalare i primi tre flaconi mai realizzati a un redattore della NBC, passò per caso davanti a F. R. Tripler (fondata nel 1886) tra la 46th Strada e Madison Avenue. Questo negozio è stato per generazioni uno dei più esclusivi negozi di abbigliamento maschile di Manhattan. I commessi non lo presero sul serio e gli chiesero come si potesse essere così ingenui da aspettarsi di essere inclusi nell'assortimento due settimane prima di Natale. Per caso, alla cassa c'era anche l'acquirente di profumi e articoli da farmacia. Aveva osservato l'incidente e dopo aver visto e annusato il profumo, Gravel è diventato parte integrante della gamma! Questo è stato il segnale di partenza di una lunga storia di successo. Da allora, Gravel viene offerto solo nei negozi più esclusivi. Intorno ai profumi Gravel si è rapidamente creato un mito che ha portato a numerose segnalazioni da parte dei media. Dave Garroway del Today Show della NBC, Hermione Gingold, Jack Parr, Johnny Carson e molti altri personaggi dello spettacolo hanno presentato i profumi in diverse trasmissioni. Nel corso degli anni si sviluppò un gruppo di aficionados, tra cui molti attori-attori, che acquistavano diverse bottiglie non appena le ambite bottiglie diventavano disponibili per evitare il rischio di lunghi tempi di attesa. Questo è uno dei motivi per cui Gravel è ritenuto responsabile del boom dei profumi negli USA negli anni '60.

The New Beginning
The New Beginning
Il Nuovo Inizio

After Knudsen‘s death, the fragrances disappeared for several years. GRAVEL perfumes thus became rare and sought-after vintage fragrances, available only in private remainders. Georg and Christian Blessing, both Gravel-enthusiasts were in the same situation. The fascination for the fragrances and the brand’s eventful history had infected father and son.

After Knudsen‘s death, the fragrances disappeared for several years. GRAVEL perfumes thus became rare and sought-after vintage fragrances, available only in private remainders. Georg and Christian Blessing, both GRAVEL-enthusiasts were in the same situation. The fascination for the fragrances and the brand’s eventful history had infected father and son.

Dopo la morte di Knudsen, GRAVEL scomparve dal mercato per diversi anni. Le fragranze sono così diventate profumi d'epoca rari e ricercati, disponibili solo nelle scorte private rimaste. Anche Georg e Christian Blessing, entrambi amanti di GRAVEL, si trovavano in questa situazione. Il fascino dei profumi complessi e senza tempo e l'unicità, o meglio la particolarità del marchio con la sua storia movimentata hanno contagiato padre e figlio.

So, basically the idea to remarket Gravel, is based on the wish to wear the scents again. The search for the heirs to the trademark and the subsequent persuasion to buy a piece of American perfume history dragged on for years. At all times, the desire to transfer Gravel Cologne back into a family owned environment that corresponded to Knudsen‘s ideals and the values of the brand was in the foreground. Finally, after years of absence, Georg and Christian Blessing succeeded in marketing Gravel Cologne again and continuing the business in the spirit of Knudsen. Today, as then, the fragrances are only available in the most exquisite establishments.

So, basically the idea to remarket GRAVEL, is based on the wish to wear the scents again. The search for the heirs to the trademark and the subsequent persuasion to buy a piece of American perfume history dragged on for years. At all times, the desire to transfer GRAVEL Cologne back into a family owned environment that corresponded to Knudsen‘s ideals and the values of the brand was in the foreground. Finally, after years of absence, Georg and Christian Blessing succeeded in marketing GRAVEL Cologne again and continuing the business in the spirit of Knudsen. Today, as then, the fragrances are only available in the most exquisite establishments.

L'idea di riportare questo pezzo di storia vivente del profumo alla sua antica grandezza è nata quindi dal desiderio di poter utilizzare nuovamente i profumi stessi. La ricerca degli eredi dei diritti del marchio e la successiva opera di persuasione per vendere un pezzo di storia americana si sono protratte per anni. Il desiderio di riportare il marchio GRAVEL in un ambiente familiare, in linea con gli ideali di Knudsen e con i valori del marchio GRAVEL, è sempre stato fondamentale. Finalmente, dopo anni di assenza, GRAVEL è tornata sul mercato e continua a operare nello spirito di Knudsen. Oggi, come in passato, ogni fragranza viene offerta solo in boutique selezionate ed è grazie a Knudsen che GRAVEL ha goduto di una popolarità ininterrotta per così tanti anni. Selezionò personalmente le pietre per ogni bottiglia sul fiume Hudson e supervisionò la produzione fino alla sua morte, avvenuta all'età di 98 anni. Grazie al suo aspetto imponente e alla sua vita movimentata, GRAVEL è uno dei marchi di profumi più antichi ancora disponibili negli Stati Uniti.

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