Not even the world of perfume and perfumers has gone untouched by Covid-19. For Dior’s perfumer-creator François Demachy, perhaps there has even been a dash of serendipity to his pandemic experience — the native of French perfumery region Grasse got to go home. As the head honcho of the brand’s perfumery explains, “During this period of the quarantine, it was strongly suggested to me by the headquarters that I move to Grasse because I am in the category of people who are vulnerable. I went off to Grasse and I was all by myself for two months with no one to disturb me and I had the laboratory all to myself. I was able to do what I liked; I even came up with new ideas for projects that hadn’t seen the light of day yet. My family stayed in Paris, so I was really a free bird.”
Ensconsed in the heady place in which he grew up, surrounded by fields of roses, jasmine, and the scent of perfume factories permeating the air, the alchemist made magic happen. He forged collaborations, helped introduce a lost flower to the region, and even put a magical spin on the ultimate Dior perfume, J’adore.
When he took over the perfume reins at Dior in 2006, Demachy also introduced an exclusive partnership with the Grasse-based Le Domaine de Manon, a property headed up by Carole Biancalana, whose family has grown scented flowers used in perfumes for over three generations. What makes the flowers grown at Le Domaine de Manon special is the company’s unique geographical positioning between the land and sea. These climatic conditions give the flowers unique qualities.
The house of Dior has long been known to champion the use of exclusive raw ingredients within its scents, even producing a particular signature rose that isn’t available to any other fragrance houses. In the instance of this particular partnership, it reserved 3ha of fields to grow centifolia rose and jasminum grandiflorum for its use entirely. From May to June, they harvest the roses daily and then do the same for the jasmine in the warm evenings from July to late October. Can you just imagine how intoxicatingly fragrant the air must be during these heady days? Little wonder that Christian Dior himself once said, “After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world.”
THE CLASSIC REVAMPED
Since its release in 1999, Dior’s J’adore fragrance has been an icon of the perfume world. Created to embody liquid gold in a bottle and named for Christian Dior’s signature phrase of enthusiasm “j’adore” — which he’d exclaim while reviewing garments — the scent has a fanbase the globe over. Now more than ever, in fact. At the end of last year, British perfume retailer The Perfume Shop released a list of its 10 best-selling fragrances (sales made during the UK’s second lockdown). J’adore made the cut — its timeless nostalgia, no doubt, a balm in unsteady times. Its devotees must also be thrilled that 2020 ushered in a new era for the heritage perfume, with the creation of J’adore Infinissime.
Naturally, this new iteration had to offer something fresh without losing the essence of what makes J’adore what it is. With this in mind and aiming to create a scent that would embody the sexiness, liberation, and femininity of a woman who has her “head held high, no compromising”, Demachy turned to the power of flowers.
J’adore Infinissime uses the signature bouquet of white flowers that makes it recognisable as a J’adore flanker, namely ylang-ylang, centifolia rose, lily of the valley, and jasmine. But, needing a flower delicate and seductive enough to convey femininity but not overwhelmingly enveloping, and heady to convey strength, Demachy settled on tuberose.
And not just any tuberose, mind. Working with the Domaine de Manon team, he reintroduced the Grasse tuberose that had not been found in the region since the 1950s. Known for being a very difficult and time-consuming flower to cultivate due to its lengthy replanting process and its reputation for exhausting the soil’s nutrients, tuberose was scarce in Grasse. “We had to wait three years to have the first flowers, so it takes a very long time to produce tuberose,” explains Biancalana.
LOOK | Demonstrating the “enfleurage” extraction technique used to preserve the exact fragrance of tuberose:
Says Demachy, “By incorporating Grasse Tuberose into the J’adore composition, I created a romantic encounter. It is as though J’adore seduced the tuberose, taking it on, showcasing it, colouring it and giving it light. J’adore Eau De Parfum Infinissime has a sensual charm thanks to this little white flower that is as intense as it is moving. It has an immediate, intact power that transcends trends. It is a genre of scent in its own right.”
Now dressed in a golden bottle with the golden J’adore necklace unravelling down its curves, J’adore Infinissime is an ode to Grasse as much as it one to a unique flower and a winning partnership.
• From the February edition of Wanted, 2021.