Petals to per­fume

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glamour Profile -

I’ve al­ways been fas­ci­nated by fra­grance (truth to tell, I’m a florist and per­fumer in an al­ter­nate uni­verse), so it was a dream come true to visit the So­traflor Plant where JeanFrançois Vieille, a mem­ber of the Mul fam­ily, ex­plained the process that brings such pure de­light to the world.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine any­one more suited to de­vise Chanel Nº5 L’eau than the chic and charm­ing per­fumer Olivier Polge. Born into fra­grance roy­alty – his fa­ther, Jac­ques Polge, was Chanel’s mas­ter per­fumer for decades – Olivier is one of the scent world’s big­gest stars, with a string of hits to his name. And when he took over his fa­ther’s post as the Chanel Nose in 2013, this self-de­scribed mod­ernist brought a dar­ing ap­proach with him.

Olivier had known Nº5 ever since he first smelled it at the age of four. Now, faced with the hon­our and chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a Chanel Nº5 for a new gen­er­a­tion, he de­cided on “the fresh­est ver­sion, a way to tell the story in a dif­fer­ent way, with very con­tem­po­rary as­pects.” Even the name L’eau (mean­ing “wa­ter”) ex­presses this idea: “L’eau evokes fresh­ness, cre­ativ­ity and pu­rity,” he says.

At the fac­tory, petals go into huge vats ready for press­ing and the ad­di­tion of hex­ane, a sol­vent that dis­solves flo­ral mol­e­cules to ex­tract the es­sen­tial fra­grances. In­cred­i­ble an­tiques and the glow of can­dle­light at the din­ner ta­ble that awaits edi­tors

Af­ter swiftly snap­ping the blooms off the stems, field work­ers fill burlap bags for transportation to the nearby fac­tory, and the task of pro­duc­ing the essence be­gins.

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