Fields of Grasse - Where Chanel Perfumery Started

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.

Flowers sourced from Grasse for Chanel Perfume

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.

Jasmine for Chanel Perfume

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.

1987

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.

"Each flower has a season"
Joseph Mul has a heart that beats in
harmony with his flowers. "Each flower
has a season," he likes to say. In the early
spring, he already knows whether May
will bring a generous rose harvest.
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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."

GRASSE

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.

Dare to progress
"There's a risk of damaging everything if
we don't take the time to understand the
flowers. We need to dare, to test and to
think in the long term." — Fabrice Bianchi
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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.

Suspended time
"I love what is the unforeseen, the
abundance of flowers and the atmosphere
of harvesting." — Jean-François Vieille
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