So how does one manage to tame and bottle these scents of lavender, peony and verbena that accompany us daily with their olfactory presence? It’s a question we asked L’Occitane, charmed and curious as we are about the intoxicating world of perfume. Indeed it’s difficult to imagine how a fragrance is made. Does it start with words? With notes or formulas? How does one make the most of an ingredient? How to give it a recognizable identity? How can one know if the scent will appeal, and if it will leave a trail behind it over time in the streets of cities the world over ?
At L’Occitane, everything starts with a desire to tell stories and to pass on not just one, but many different ones. The story of the ingredient, but also the legends or traditions that are tied to it, and one imagines a visual world that the perfume must describe. The colors, words, adjectives, panoramas and photographs associated with this new creation are brought together. Next the “nose” responsible for the development of the scent steps in. It’s up to him to transform these words, stories and impressions into a perfume that he alone knows the secret alchemy.
The “nose” draws from his own olfactory lexicon, imagines unusual and seductive blends… for the entire world. The perfume should conquer the capitals of Asia, lovers of delicate scents, without forgetting to break hearts in America, where they prefer more powerful, full-bodied perfumes. One also has to consider the little villages of Provence, that know these ingredients so well… Quite complex work, uniting objectivity and subjectivity and explained to us by Claire Chambert, who created the Immortelle Eau de Parfum and is also behind the new Verbena range.
“The recipe should always be quite simple, in order to enhance the ingredient that draws its power from the heart of the Provence countryside. Indeed L’Occitane prefers natural extracts and essential oils, which perfectly capture the soul of the flower from which they are extracted. But sometimes, simplicity is harder to attain than complexity! Indeed, many back-and-forths are needed, with lots of soul-searching on behalf of the perfumer to attain a perfume to please everyone, without failing to have its own personality.
So it’s important to flesh it out with other ingredients, as reinforcement to enhance the odor of the plant. With the Verbena perfume for example, lemon, lemongrass and geranium come along for the ride reinforcing verbena’s native freshness and vivacity.”
L’Occitane is always looking for new scents, for new plants that it discovers in the course of its many journeys. So soon you’ll be transported somewhere else… You just have to wait for their next creation, which will perhaps indicate your next destination!