- CRADLE OF
- A PARTNERSHIP
Where it all began...
It began with leather gloves, boots and coachwork. Hides of all sorts were sold and traded by the tanners of Grasse as early as the 12th century. However they would only retain the odor of horse stables for a few centuries, since the practice of perfuming leather began in the 17th century. The rich soil of this region — blessed with an ideal climate and sheltered from the wind — provided fertile ground for the flower plantations needed for perfuming leather.
Fields of rose, jasmine, tuberose, mimosa, orange blossom, violet and lavender gradually spread throughout the Côte d’Azur, earning Grasse its legendary status as the cradle of perfumery. All branches of the industry moved into the area: from extraction plants to merchants, not to mention the perfumers who came to learn their trade or select their raw materials. Plants have been grown for fragrances in Grasse for over 300 years. Cooled by the wind and bathed in the Mediterranean sun, the fertile soil of this region offers the perfect conditions for growing high-quality flowers for fragrances. Grasse is, without a doubt, the birthplace of French perfumery.
Exceptional raw materials
Flowers grown in the Grasse region quickly became the raw materials of choice for the finest perfumers. So it is only natural that the history of the N°5 fragrance began in Grasse. In 1921, its creator, Ernest Beaux, chose Grasse jasmine for his composition.
Chanel has sourced its flowers from Grasse for close to a century, and since 1987, it has been actively contributing to the sustainable farming of jasmine and rose. Today, the crops have expanded to include other flowers for fragrances, namely iris, geranium and tuberose: all exceptional crops, exclusively reserved for Chanel scents. Just as Haute Couture protects the unique skills of the artistic professions it encompasses, Chanel fragrances contribute to safeguarding a legendary heritage.
On the initiative of Jacques Polge, the Chanel Perfumer from 1978 to 2014, the House of Chanel signed the first partnership of its kind at the time with the Mul family, the region's largest flower producer, based in Pégomas. And so began a beautiful story of trust and cooperation. Ties of friendship were formed, ensuring a lasting future for this rare heritage in Grasse and perfect control over the process from flower to fragrance. This partnership provides a guarantee of both the olfactory quality and the quantity of flowers required for Chanel fragrances.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
For five generations, the Mul family has
endeavored to safeguard these centuries-old
crops of exceptional flowers for perfume. Joseph
Mul inherited these legendary fields from his
great-grandfather and proudly saved them from
the clutches of real estate developers so he
could pass them on to the next generation.
Following suit, in 2014 Jacques Polge handed
the keys to the Chanel Fragrance
Laboratory over to his son, Olivier Polge.
BETWEEN HERITAGE AND FUTURE
While the House of Chanel is respectful of its historical roots in Grasse, it is not, for all that, nostalgic. Safeguarding this heritage is also a means of committing to the future. The Mul family and Chanel have both adopted the values of cultivating difference and ensuring continuity, with a shared commitment to future projects. As Olivier Polge says: "We are the guardians of Chanel formulas and we must make every effort to maintain full control over our ingredients."
RESPECT FOR THE LAND
Even when sustainable development had not yet entered their vocabulary, the Mul family already had
an ingrained understanding of the concept. “Our flowers are like children who we raise into
adulthood,” says Fabrice Bianchi.
The almost 50 acres of fields devoted to flowers for perfume are tended with unparalleled rigor and care.
Today, as yesterday, no chemical fertilizers are used to grow the flowers. In close cooperation with Chanel,
the Mul family continues to improve their techniques in keeping with sustainable farming practices, so that the flowers are at their best without the risk of depleting the soil. Between crops, they conduct in-depth
analyses on each field to understand their language and learn their secrets.
FROM LAND TO FRAGRANCE
In 1988, a FACILITY was built right in the middle
of the fields. It is used to process the fresh
flowers, in their full essence, as soon as
they are harvested.
The plant is not only a production and
processing unit for flowers, but also a genuine
laboratory to test and improve the olfactory
rendering of each harvest. Chanel and the Mul
family share a desire to produce the most fragrant flowers possible and to guarantee
the same quality, today and tomorrow.
Traceability of the flower is at the heart
of the partnership, from the field to the
processing plant where it is transformed
into concrete and absolute.