Aware of the disappearance of flower plantations used in best-selling perfumes, the fashion and cosmetics company Chanel bought more land in the south of France to ensure a supply of jasmine and other varieties, harvested by hand in a gentle annual ritual.
The luxury group said it has acquired an additional 10 hectares of land, in addition to the 20 hectares it already explores in partnership with a local family near the town of Grasse, known for its flower fields.
On a sunny Sunday morning in August, before the heat reached a peak in nearby Pegomas, dozens of harvesters were busy with this year’s jasmine crop, the main ingredient in perfume Chanel’s 100th Anniversary No. 5, created by the late designer Coco Chanel.
Chanel signed an agreement with the Mul family in the late 1980s to anchor its production of five flowers in the region. Some local producers began selling their land at the time, attracted in part by property deals in the region around Nice and the French Riviera.
“There was a time when a threat emerged, because jasmine production was starting to move to other countries,” said Olivier Polge, who followed in his father’s footsteps and became the brand’s chief perfumer in 2013.
Jasmine grown in Grasse has a specific odor. The region became a flower and fragrance hub in the 17th century, when local leather tanners began to perfume their wares.