This week I visited the flower fields of CHANEL in Grasse, Fance, which are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage. As I stepped into the breathtaking permises, I was awed. A world where five rare and precious ingredients bloom: jasmine grandiflorum, May rose, iris pallida, tuberose, and geranium rosat, it was an inspiring journey from the harvest of these fragrant blossoms to the creation of the final iconic fragrance.
Alongside the devoted CHANEL team and friends of the brand from around the globe, I delved into a day brimming with intrigue, wonder, and discovery starting with the harvesting of jasmine flower for CHANEL’s No 5 perfume, coupled with an immersive visit to the facilities that provide a sneak peek into the crafting of the iconic fragrance.
The flower’s journey begins at dawn. Before the sun is high in the sky and temperatures rise, the flowers are picked by hand, ensuring that they retain their full fragrance. It’s a delicate process. With nimble fingers and gentle hands, the field workers carefully select each bloom, placing them into woven baskets that will be swiftly transported to the processing plant on site.
Wandering amidst the fields with Fabrice Bianchi (a 5th generation member of the Mul family operating the fields in Grasse since 1840), and the CHANEL team, their knowledge and commitment to their craft were amazing. Every facet, from maintaining the soil’s vitality, amicably adapting and preparing the fields since years for climate change by reducing stress for the plants and adapting cultivation methods, to the precise timing of the harvest, was meticulously calibrated, embodying the distinctive quality for CHANEL’s fragrances. This passionate commitment extends to environmental responsibility, where innovative sustainability practices are integral to CHANEL’s ethos.
The partnership between CHANEL and the Mul family strives to safeguard biodiversity, minimize its ecological footprint, and optimize resource efficiency, ensuring the flourishing legacy of these precious flowers and their habitat for future generations. Such a holistic approach accentuates the brand’s philosophy – a harmonious blend of respect for heritage and anticipative responsibility, intertwining tradition with progressive stewardship. The exquisite essence extracted is not just the embodiment of refined luxury but is also a representation of sustainable excellence.
CHANEL’s commitment to sustainability and excellence doesn’t just end with the flowers. The brand’s ethos extends to every facet of its operation. Their partnership with the Mul family since 1987 ensures not only the production of fragrant flowers but also the future of this unique heritage. The constant measures taken against the challenges of climate change are testament to the brand’s forward-thinking approach.
Once at the plant, the flowers are processed immediately, capturing the essence at its freshest. I was captivated as I watched the petals placed into extraction units where their aromatic compounds are drawn out. These compounds are then further refined and processed, creating the pure, concentrated essence that will eventually make its way into bottles of CHANEL No 5.
With CHANEL’s house perfumer Olivier Polge (who took over the heritage of his father, who also served as the brands perfumer for a long time) I had the rare chance to smell the freshly extracted essences and get a glimpse behind the creation process of the final fragrance. And I must say, it was nothing short of magical. The aroma was rich, full-bodied, and deeply fragrant. This was the raw magic that would, after further refining, blend with other ingredients to create the iconic CHANEL No 5.
After this day, I really felt deep appreciation for the people involved and processes that go into making a single bottle of CHANEL No 5. It truly is a blend of art and science, tradition and innovation.
As the sun began to set, casting a warm golden hue over the flower fields, I realized that CHANEL’s story in Grasse is not just about creating a fragrance. It’s about preserving a legacy, ensuring the future, and sharing the magic of Grasse’s floral treasures with the world. As I left, the lingering scent of jasmine in the air seemed to whisper, “Fairytales do exist. And you’ve just been to one.“
Founded in 2014, re-launched in 2019 – by Nel-Olivia Waga. It is an international luxury lifestyle blog, that features stories under the aspect of a conscious mindset. It collaborates with leading brands and specialists who share the idea of generating a positive impact in the world. Based in Zurich and London, it covers local hotspots and global trends around sustainability, innovation, well-being, health, beauty, travel, time, art, business and charity.
Nel-Olivia Waga is the Founder & Publisher of HER/etiquette. She is a Brand Consultant, an Author and Entrepreneur, most passionate about well-being, travel, nature and art. Her work can regularly be seen in her column on FORBES. Her consultancy YMPACT LAB, creates innovative marketing projects for luxury brands based on passion, purpose and sustainable impact.
#ConsciousLuxury is the theme of HER/etiquette. We combine luxury lifestyle with consciousness. Each story we share, is underlined with values. The purpose and innovation of the brands we collaborate with, are as important to us, as their initiatives towards ethical craftsmanship, sustainability holistic health and social responsibility.
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