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.