On the trail of a seductive new scent & More Latest News

“We put the raw beauty of nature at the heart of our creations,” says Guichard, 47, as we mill about sipping champagne from flutes, petting the canine (a speckled French pointer named Nuts) and admiring the guitarist (a lengthy haired, naked foot man in white linen). “Every ingredient has several facets. I decide which one I will play with, which twist I will give.”

Matiere Premiere’s tuberose harvest company sip champagne whereas inhaling the flowers round them. 

“My grandparents grew roses, jasmine and verbena in this region,” he continues, extending an arm. “I remember my grandfather standing in front of the scales, in the shade, gathering the pickers to weigh the harvest. The smell of the flowers mixed with the smell of the earth, the burlap sacks and the gasoline from the agricultural machines. I wanted to continue their commitment to the regional know-how of growing perfume plants.”

In the morning we’ll tie material luggage round our waists and be a part of two native pickers, strong Gypsy girls whom Guichard has identified since a boy, in plucking the tuberose heads from their stalks, working our method down corridors of crops, emptying our stash into wicker baskets. The flowers will then be delivered to a native firm and reworked into ‘absolute’, divulging their floral energy, their sensual aspect eked out through the little-used method of enfleurage – the artwork of trapping the perfume in oil.

Devoid of colourants, permitted to age and packaged in a handmade bottle, French Flower smells simply as it’s supposed to scent: like a tuberose subject on a summer season night in Grasse.

French Flower and the harvested blossoms that impressed its creation. Alexis Jacquin

It’s sluggish perfumery, Guichard-style. An aesthetic he’s dug deep into these environmentally pleasant, Ecocert-ified grounds, the place he additionally grows his personal Rosa centifolia, the blowsy pink cabbage rose used for the genderless Matiere Premiere perfume Radical Rose, and the place he’ll quickly start cultivating lavender.

Listed in 2018 as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage website for its perfume-related savvy, Grasse hosts dozen of firms in the trade, Chanel and Dior amongst them. But it’s the return to natural farming and time-worn practices, to crude magnificence in the finest, most straightforward sense, that units Matiere Premiere aside.

The author tries her hand at plucking tuberose flowers from their stems. 

Guichard lives between Grasse, the place he was born, and Paris, the place his condo overlooks the Jardin du Luxembourg. A subject hockey fanatic and bibliophile (he cites Jean Giono’s basic 1953 quick story The Man Who Planted Trees as a favorite learn), Guichard has hung out in England, the place he studied economics earlier than coaching at the Givaudan Perfumery School in Paris –his father, Jean Guichard, the ‘nose’ behind blockbuster fragrances Obsession and LouLou, is a former director. He then labored at Givaudan New York.

For a number of years, he has been a senior perfumer with Japanese magnificence conglomerate Takasago, for whom he’s created fragrances together with Burberry Hero.

“I was lucky that Takasago gave me the freedom to found my own company and spend time in the south of France,” says Guichard, whose good vibes are such that French style icon Carine Roitfeld named her 2019 unisex perfume Aurélien after him. “They even suggested I build my own laboratory. I asked my mother Béatrice, who is a sculptor working in metal and marble, if I might do this on the property. She asked if she might share it.”

Row upon row of Matier Premiere perfumes and samples on show in Guichard’s workshop. 

It’s the day after the Great Tuberose Reveal. Flower heads picked, lunch eaten at lengthy tables underneath white umbrellas, we’re sitting inside Guichard’s workshop, a small rough-hewn constructing customary in the model of the close by stone outhouses and additional again, the secluded most important residence with its swimming pool and large-scale out of doors sculptures.

Through a window, a clutch of purple steel fronds jut from the floor: Béatrice Guichard’s signature Les Hautes Herbes (‘The Tall Grass’) sculptures, variations on the set up that’s on everlasting public show in the Place du Louvre in Paris.

Guichard’s laboratory is white-walled, light-filled, calming. A big publicity nonetheless shows Crystal Saffron, a new creation, the bottle atop a mound of deep-red saffron that’s produced, I’m advised, in northern Greece. All 10 Matiere Premiere fragrances line a picket desk. There are pipettes, glass containers, laboratory scales, blotter strips. As Guichard sprays, I sniff: Parisian Musc, woody and vegetal, coaxed out of ambrette seed from Peru.

This yr’s tuberose harvest will go into making the subsequent batch of French Flower. Alexis Jacquin

Then, Neroli Oranger, impossibly pure absolute orange blossom from Tunisia. Falcon Leather, darkish and arresting, created from birch tar from Finland. Santal Austral, a sensual white wooden perfume distilled by DSO (Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils) in Western Australia.

“We know that not all the best product comes from Grasse. I was researching raw materials from around the world, and Dutjahn was a great example of a fair trade company with an amazing product. They’re award-winning, and 51 per cent owned by First Nations [Martu and Wongi] people. Working with ethical international producers who source quality raw ingredients and also help local development is at the heart of what we do.”

When it involves magicking the subsequent Matiere Premiere perfume, Guichard is in no rush. Each creation takes time. Loads of time: “I work on and smell about 50 different compositions a day. Sometimes it can take me 2000 tries to make a fragrance. It’s a bit like when my mother sculpts from marble. She’s always reducing what she’s working with.

“I want to create perfumes whose textures leave a real trail. That make people ask you what you’re wearing several times a day. That forge connections, evoke memories.”

Of a tuberose subject on a summer season night in Grasse, maybe?

Guichard flashes a smile. “Oui,” he says. “Memories just like that.”


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