The wel­come

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glamour Profile -

The Grasse farm that pro­vides key in­gre­di­ents for Nº5 has been owned by the same fam­ily for over 170 years, and Chanel has had an ex­clu­sive part­ner­ship with the es­tate for 30 years.

So it’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that you can feel the love for the land and the art of per­fumery as you walk through the lanes with Joseph Mul, the farm’s ge­nial owner. And nowhere is this special bond more ap­par­ent than in May, when the cen­tifo­lia rose, a cen­tral pil­lar in Chanel Nº5 L’eau, blooms for just a few pre­cious weeks.

Dur­ing this brief win­dow of op­por­tu­nity, some 700kg of del­i­cate flow­ers are picked and sent to the nearby fac­tory, Mon­sieur Mul ex­plained. Once there, the petals would be pro­cessed within two and a half hours in or­der to re­tain their heady, glo­ri­ous scent.

It’s a time- and labour­in­ten­sive task, done by hand, rose by rose. “Snap the flower off the stem,” said Mon­sieur Mul, show­ing the skill that was be­ing put to swift use by a bevy of work­ers, all of whom were swiftly fill­ing burlap bags with beau­ti­ful pink petals.

Headed for the skies in a hot-air bal­loon fea­tur­ing a very lucky num­ber.

La Bastide Saint An­toine bou­tique ho­tel.

Imag­ine a huge, steam­ing cake of crushed roses, and you’ll know what this part of the ex­trac­tion stage looks like. These dried petals will go back to the flower fields to en­rich the earth for new blooms.

The ul­ti­mate, stag­ger­ingly pre­cious Ab­so­lute! It takes a fur­ther three days of pro­cess­ing the Con­crete to reach this stage: a minute bot­tle of rose essence that rep­re­sents 2 500kg of flow­ers!

Show­ered in vel­vety, fra­grant rose petals – lit­er­ally. One of many un­for­get­table mo­ments in this sen­sual jour­ney, and my turn to ex­pe­ri­ence the process from the in­side at the So­traflor Plant.

I flew the flag high for SA de­sign with my en­sem­ble for the evening’s sup­per: a lacy white blouse and skirt by Gavin Ra­jah paired with a sparkly black clutch and ear­rings. And for dessert? The pret­ti­est pink con­fec­tion to end an ex­tra­or­di­nary ex­pe­ri­ence o

This bright, dense waxy liq­uid will be­come the Con­crete that is pro­cessed yet again to cre­ate the ul­ti­mate essence: the Ab­so­lute. It takes 400kg of roses to pro­duce just 1kg of Con­crete.

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