Originally it was the aristocracy who used perfumes, but only to disguise their body odours. Since early Christianity taboos with regards exposure of the body and dictates of upper society cluttered people's minds and washing was thought necessary only for the lower orders who had dirty jobs. As the upper echelons of society later began to wear wigs and take very much sweetened tea as well as fortified wines (Madeira, Port and Sherry became popular for the 'bibbing' classes in the 17th-18th Centuries), tooth and scalp disorders added to the range of 'pongs' emanated by the upper orders. Sharp-smelling scents would only aggravate the sensations, so chemists introduced sweet scents and lavender water.
From late Victorian and Edwardian times onward the aristocrats and their acolytes (the clergy and professional classes). discovered the need to wash more regularly than once a year, but perfumes and cologne etc maintained their market levels. These days, with under-arm sprays to clog up the skin, sweet smelling perfumes are still a must, as eventually the sprays become counter-effective unless washed off thoroughly, daily. Not everybody showers daily, and that's the rub.