Grasse, France: The World of Scents, Eau de Toilette and the Man Behind them ALL!
I must admit that my recent visit to Grasse was filled with anticipation and excitement. The last time I was there, maybe around 3 years ago, I had the chance to meet an actual ‘Nose’ and no matter how brief that encounter was, it remained in my subconscious and made a promise to myself to visit the place one more time.
For a start, let me tell you what a ‘Nose’ does. The Nose is a magician in a different way, or we could also describe him as the scientist of scents or maybe a creator of thousand scents. The Nose is behind all the famous perfumes we have in the market. Maybe some of us think that creating the Chanel No. 5 or Dior, Versace or Kenzo were all easy tasks but nothing is so simple. The Nose created them all.
The Nose is chosen, born and nurtured differently. A “Nose” is a person capable of differentiating up to 100 scents. Not all of us have this talent.
When an emerging Nose has been identified, that person should avoid drinking any alcoholic drinks, eating spicy foods including dishes with garlic and onions. He should have a clean lifestyle and most often than not avoid shampoos or shower gels with chemicals on them. A Nose doesn’t even use perfumes or colognes. And aside from that, a Nose will undergo a rigid training that could take up to 7 years. And when A Nose works, it should only for 4 hours a day and no more than that.
The Nose works in a secret lab with an organ-like workplace filled with hundreds of scents from different flowers and starts mixing concentrations during the intense 4-hour period. And needless to say, a Nose is paid handsomely. And as of press time, there are less than a hundred Noses in the world and majority of them are from Grasse.
Grasse became the perfume capital world since the time of the Medici in Florence. It started by manufacturing scented gloves and soon flowers were grown and cultivated in the area, giving more resources to the scented gloves market. From then, it became the center of perfumery and even Pauline, the famous sister of Napoleon enjoyed staying in Grasse. She loves perfumes and this was already a growing market since then.
During the last decades or more, Grasse became the undisputed capital of fragrances and perfumes. Famous brands are coming to Grasse and asking the Noses to create a perfume suited to their demands and tastes. Celebrities are also coming to Grasse just so a Nose can create an exclusive scent for them. Truly, the perfume business has found a niche in this small village of Grasse.
There are quite a number of shops here that concentrate on the perfumery. I had a chance to visit the Galimard company before and this time, I visited the Fragonard. They don’t sell in bulk and out of the open market. Their marketing strategy is only concentrated on their place and one has to travel to such distance to avail their products. Thus, coming to Grasse was an added bonus not only appreciating the place but learning more about creating that one powerful scent that your body could fall in love with.
So the next time you buy a Eau de Toilette or a perfume, take a moment and spray in on your body. Walk a little and see if it blends well with your skin. We should always take our time to assess whether our body responds well to it or not. And maybe we could also check whether a bit of bergamot, rosemary, or nutmeg are good for us or maybe something with jasmine, sandalwood, ylang-ylang or cedar wood perhaps?
In any case, scents are not just created overnight. It takes that right amount of different flowers and other plants just to create that perfect perfume. Then the chemists will come into play and put everything in to writing. And of course, growing and importation of flowers that are needed will be the next agenda. In the end, it is a cycle and a wonderful work of art.
Truly, my visit to Grasse has been a rewarding experience. I keep learning new things and also learning more about my body and soul. In the end, I purchase a wonderful work of art made of bergamot, marine, note, nutmeg, cardamon and musk. They call it Beau Gosse. It’s perfect for summer and really smells good on me.
It’s one thing to smell good and a different thing to learn more about perfumes and scents too. And yes, a different experience knowing the person behind all these heavenly scents around us!