The Fields surrounding the town of Grasse, in southern Provence, overflow with lavender, jasmine, iris, orange blossom, mimosa, tuberose, and violets — blooms at the heart of the region’s fragrance traditions since the 16th century. Caring for them are expert growers and horticulturists, such as Anne Dor, owner of Val d’Iris. Her sustainable farm produces the blue iris for the newest fragrance in L’Occitane’s La Collection de Grasse, Iris Bleu & Iris Blanc. On two hectares of land, Anne, her husband and their team grow two types of iris — Iris pallida and Iris Germanica. A hearty perennial, iris grows effortlessly in Grasse, even without fertilizer or irrigation— but the team at Val d’Iris oversees it at every stage, working and weeding by hand. During the harvest in July and August, the underground stems that store the fragrance, called rhizomes, are dug up with a plow and collected. After being washed a number of times, the rhizomes are dried in the sun for three days, at which point they’re ready to be processed for fragrance.
For L’Occitane, which is based in Provence, connections like the one with Val d’Iris are essential for preserving the land, ensuring that it remains locally farmed using traditional techniques. The collection, which includes nine fragrances, each featuring two classic ingredients, is a tribute to the tradition of perfume in Grasse. “The land of Grasse unites all of the know-how linked to perfume in a single space,” says Oliver Baussan, founder of L’Occitane. “My heart goes to products that create a perfect link between humans and nature.”
In 1976, Oliver Baussan, then 23 years old and armed with a knowledge of plants, began creating his own essential oils in his beloved home of Provence. He sold his creations at local markets — and L’Occitane was born. Today, the luxurious skincare brand is known for using botanical ingredients like its signature Provence lavender, shea butter from Burkina Faso and the immortelle flower from Corsica. It’s winning combination that’s led to more than 2,000 boutiques worldwide.
Fresh & feminine
The Iris Bleu & Iris Blanc fragrence marries blue Iris pallida from Grasse and the delicate white Iris Florentian from the Mediterranean. ”The iris is a very feminine flower,” says Olivier Baussan.
Iris Bleu & Iris Blanc Eau de Toilette, 75mL, $75, L’Occtiane.