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Monthly Archives: September 2013

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about honey, you will find it here.  In the post you will find some historical facts about bees and honey history as well as examples of perfumes that use honey as a note. Today I got some really nice news from Lush about the honey they use so I want to re-adress this sweet theme to add some information.

A team from Lush went to Zambia to visit some beekeepers that work with traditional methods making fair trade honey that is used in the honey shampoo from Lush. The honey is made in the forest around Kabompo River and provides an important source of income for the communities in the area. The honey made here is free from pesticides and herbicides.

Photo from Lush.

Kabompo is in the northwest of Zambia and at the centre of Zambia’s remaining teak forests. Beekeeping has been a tradition in the area for a long time and skills as well as hives of grass, bark and hollow tree trunks are handed down from one generation to the other. Beekeeping has turned into a thriving industry with about 3,000 traditional bark hive beekeepers in Zambia.

I like the way Lush communicate about the products, especially raw materials. Here is a film from the team’s trip to Zambia. Would be very nice to see more companies highlight their raw material sources more like this, I think.

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I want to share with you the story of my last evening in Grasse. (How I miss this place and how I felt being in that experience…)

There is a narrow winding long cobbled street in Grasse, Rue de L’Oratoire. Somehow wherever I would go I would find myself in Rue de L’Oratoire. In this labyrinth of Grassesque marvels there is a place I knew I would visit sooner or later. 

Before going to Grasse Institute of Perfumery I had read about Clayton’s adventures there and about his visit to perfumer Didier Gaglewski (in Rue de L’Oratoire 12). It seems many visitors to Grasse feel the need to buy perfume as a souvenir and the local shops cater to that idea in different ways. For me the real treat of being in Grasse was the access to the backstage area of the perfume industry. The fields, the insider information, the lab, the raw materials – but above all – the conversations with people who work with perfume in various ways. If I had an experience like that – and could buy something that would preserve the moment for me – then great, but perfume per se was not the main thing. But then of course a place like Grasse provides gems like Beauty Success where you can find Coriandre and Caron’s Pour un Homme! But back to Gaglewski. This encounter was really a quintessential part of this adventure.

First time I met Didier Gaglewski was when going to dinner with my Spanish friend (and I am sure future perfumer) Inma, Daniela from Fragonard and the lady that they were staying with in Grasse. The lady knew Didier so we introduced ourselves briefly when passing by his shop and said we would come back. After a few days, you see, Inma and I had embarked on an inspiring inner journey analyzing various ways to pursue olfactory paths in our future careers. And monsieur Gaglewski seemed like a very good person to turn to for some advise since he himself started to work with perfumes after pursuing a different career for some time. So a few days later we returned. 

The shop. Photo from Gaglewski.com
Didier generously shared his story with us and we spent a long time discovering his creations, from the ultra-masculine conceptual Cambouis, a humoristic flirt with the idea of a man working on his car and the smells of this, to the soft romantic Aria, a seductive classic über-feminine dream of tuberose and vanilla. I had a different instant crush though… first for the name and then for the smell, the woody Journaliste. No surprise that it includes some of my favorite notes – petit grain, mandarin, ginger, cardamom and tonka bean. The Journaliste is now here in Stockholm with me. It reminds me of the alliance between brain and heart, plans and dreams and of this very special place in Grasse. 
So, on my last day I went back to Rue de L’Oratoire, 12 to say goodbye to Didier and to show him my three own creations from school for some professional feedback. A very rewarding visit since I also had the luck to talk to the customers that came to the shop. I was struck by the great conversations that happened. So far from some of the empty quick exchanges of clichés in department stores. People ask Didier a lot about his background and profession and creations and he answers every person’s questions very genuinely and generously. A young man entered out of curiosity, not really ready for a purchase, but full of questions. It was such a nice conversation to listen to and a moment that captured some of that special thing about Grasse so well – it is a place that loves perfumes and that loves to take the time to talk about perfume with anyone who has a desire to know more. There is so much knowledge in those hills… and so little of the excluding elitism that you find between perfume shelves around the world. 
Scent strips made of ribbons at Gaglewski.

Thank you Didier for sharing your story, time and thoughts. D
ziękuję.

“Vous êtes brune, de peau mate.Vous êtes gaie et un peu capricieuse. 
Vous croquez la vie.
Votre rire cristallin ne connaît pas de frontière. 
Vous êtes si près de l’enfance que l’on se demande parfois si vous n’en sortez 
que pour paraître sérieuse, mais l’on sait bien que cela ne durera 
que le temps d’un clin d’oeil.”

(From description of Aria on Gaglewski.com)

In some moments Grasse can really feel a bit like Fragonard Town. A fairly large part of the old town is dominated by Fragonard’s museum and various shops offering not only fragrance but also clothes and linen. My impression is that their business seems to be going quite well.

Of course. And it rhymes.

It is unquestionable that the Fragonard family do take their role as providers of knowledge about the perfume making history very seriously. I decided to save the Fragonard museum for my last Saturday in Grasse and took not one but two tours – one in Italian and one in English. As a former tourist guide and more recently communications and marketing professional I was very interested to see how the guides of Fragonard tell the story, what tools they use and how they incorporate sales into then tour. I also had the privilege of getting some VIP guidance through the range from my friend Daniela who works there.

 
Enfleurage Süskind-style.

The Fragonard factory tour is really well-designed. There are only guided tours, no walking around on your own, so anyone who visits is more or less guaranteed to leave with more knowledge. During the tour the guides use pedagogic graphics, scents, interactive moments and go through rooms that really give the visitors the feeling of getting a backstage perspective. Very well-organised all this. The tour ends with an olfactive test where everyone guesses what notes can be found in some of the fragrances offered in the gift shop. Very clever.

Enormous raw material bottles to smell during the tour – fun!

Étoile – a nice fresh fragrance that I ended up buying.

At entry level there is the obligatory history of perfume exhibition. In comparison to the one at the International Perfume Museum next door this one is lighter and more focused on objects. I like them both, as I wrote in an earlier post I found the International Museum very informative and ambitious. In both places there are some truly exquisite objects to admire. After these two collections I am now rather obsessed with antique perfume flaçons… Especially 19th century. I leave you with some favorites of mine from the Fragonard collection.

If you see something like this at an auction do please let me know?