Have you ever been showered in rose petals? Close your eyes, and imagine yourselves in Grasse, France. You are surrounded exclusively by fields of flowers, of Rose de Mai fields, to be precise: these flowers bloom only once a year, for three weeks only, and that is the only time during which it is possible to collect their precious petals. Imagine feeling them on your skin all of a sudden: three or four kilos of petals will feel like a caress, one that will leave a marvelous fragrance behind them. Can you smell it? It’s not a scent you can forget easily. Rosa Centifoglia is the botanical name for this most delicate kind of rose: its subtle, exquisite perfume is the essential ingredient of one of the most famous perfumes worldwide: Chanel N°5. Its bouquet is unforgettable, so sensual and intense that not even Marylin ever went to sleep without forgetting to put a drop or two on her neck. This perfume is a timeless, eternal icon and its formula was never changed since the early days, when Mademoiselle Gabrielle chose it in the 1920s, and turned it into a myth. That is, until today: we are in Grasse because Chanel is launching a new version of its celebrity perfume, Chanel N°5, made by Chanel Master Perfumer Olivier Polge: a revolutionary move that shocked many, therefore, a move in perfect Coco style. Really: who else would dare to revamp a classic?
Well, someone who can reinvent themselves with grace and intelligence, who understands the time they live in and can look to the future, while being innovative, without betraying the very essence of who they are for a second. In a word: Chanel. Chanel can and they invited us to their fields in Grasse, where they grow jasmine and Rose de Mai, the two ingredients at the basis of the two bouquets. The bouquet feels a little lighter, yet complex and tangy — the formula of the new N°5 is a sensory journey that starts from the original fragrance’s double heart. Both flowers are farmed here exclusively for Chanel by the Mul family: this also guarantees protection of a floral treasure that would otherwise have risked extinction without the help of the maison, due to the high levels of expertise, time and patience that are necessary to successfully harvest these flowers.
Are you curious to learn how to pick a rose without damaging the plant? Start by delicately holding the flower, and remove it from its stem with a firm movement of your wrist. There are 60 ladies here, working shifts, year after year, in order not to miss a minute of the precious three weeks during which the flowers blossom and can be picked: every day, each of these women harvests at least 50 kg of roses. You need 400 kgs of them to produce 1kg of concrete, a solid waxy substance that is used to produce absolute, the concentrated ingredient that you need to actually make the perfume. Strolling around the fields of roses in our black Chanel rain boots, a cotton apron with a big pocket for collecting petals, and a massive straw hat, we would love to stay here forever, although we actually need to make our way back to Milan soon. We now know, though, that we only need one magic formula to go back to Grasse with our mind: the magic formula inside the new Chanel N°5 L’Eau.