Rose de Mai (Grasse): 9 posts

Why Is Rose Centifolia Such An Expensive Ingredient

I had a chance to harvest roses in Grasse on a couple of occasions and to observe the process of rose absolute and rose essential oil distillation. The experience of jumping into a pile of rose petals was certainly heady and memorable, but what struck me the most was the work involved to produce rose absolute. Since the famous rose of Grasse, rose centifolia, or rose de mai, contains less essence than rose damascena, it’s rarely steam-distilled. Instead, it has to be processed in a multi-step manner, which requires skill, experience and the right equipment.

My most recent video is about rose centifolia. As I explain, the processing of rose blossoms into rose absolute is a complicated and time-consuming process.  First, the flowers are treated with an organic solvent such as hexane, and the resulting extract is then vacuum distilled. The solvent is removed, and the resulting product is called concrète.

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5 Moods, 5 Roses

Rose is a classical note in a perfumer’s palette. It can be a natural type-rose, with rich honeyed facets, a citrusy blossom, or a musky bouquet. While some iconic fragrances like Guerlain Nahéma and Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose are rose-dominated, it often finds itself in a supporting role, which it performs beautifully. As I hope to demonstrate to you with my list below, rose is versatile and can suit a variety of moods and fragrance styles.

Although rose is most closely associated with feminine perfumery, I encourage men to disregards such labels. The truth is that citrus, metallic rose notes are already present in many masculine compositions, such as Amouage Lyric Man, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire Pour Homme and Cartier Déclaration d’Un Soir. The darker the rose becomes, the more you can experiment with it. For instance, Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady smells devastatingly sexy on a man.

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Dior Joy : Perfume Review

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Louis Vuitton has done it. It managed to buy a stake in the venerable house of Jean Patou and to add it to its impressive collection of brands. It announced reviving the Jean Patou fashion line and promised many exciting developments. The first one arrived and I’m not holding my breath for the subsequent ones. Dior launched a perfume called Joy. Why let such a brilliant name languish on an old-fashioned perfume when it can grace a modern, pink-tinted juice?

The press release was ecstatic. “Grasse Rose, in both Essence and Absolute form, as well as heady Jasmine, blend with these delectable fruits [bergamot and mandarin] in a vibrant smile. Warm and creamy sandalwood embraces us in softness.” That Dior needs to hire a good copywriter is obvious, but even more so the fact that besides the name, Dior also took the main idea of Jean Patou’s Joy, rose and jasmine. What would be the result, I wondered?

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Chanel No 5 L’Eau : Fragrance Review

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Although sometimes I’m prone to romanticizing the golden days of perfumery–that vague time in the past when regulations and profitability didn’t shape the industry the way they do today, I’m not a traditionalist. Tastes change, and I don’t expect that young people today want to wear only fragrances created 100 years ago, just as the children of those whose wear Lancôme La Vie est Belle and Bleu de Chanel might reject their parents’ choices. Yes, a day of “vintage” La Vie est Belle will come. This is why I don’t object to the reworks of classics, such as Chanel No. 5 L’Eau, provided that the brand keeps the original intact and interprets the “young and trendy” theme in an interesting manner.

chanel 5eau

L’Eau is an attempt by Chanel to draw a younger, trendier audience to No. 5. Although I smell enough of No. 5 on women in their twenties in Paris and notice its constant presence in the top 10 best sellers, it is still somewhat of a cult favorite. L’Eau goes for wider appeal.

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The Quest for Essences : Rose, Jasmine and Bergamot

Where do the perfumery ingredients come from? How are they produced? What do they smell like? Out of all aspects of fragrance, the composition–or rather, what’s exactly in a bottle of perfume–remains the most mystifying and interesting. While the following films from Dior are heavy on marketing, they nevertheless give a glimpse into some of the most classical ingredients in a perfumer’s palette–rose, jasmine and bergamot.

If you don’t see English subtitles, click on the CC button under the video, next to the volume controls.

Unsurprisingly, my favorite film is the one dedicated to jasmine. You visit fields in India with Dior’s chief perfumer François Demachy who explains the difference between jasmine sambac and jasmine grandiflorum. “Sambac has something animal and powerful about it. A slightly orange-like and more sensual quality. Grandiflorum is more delicate, more radiant.” He then takes you to a flower market, a place every visitor to India finds exhilarating.

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