MONU'S FRAGRANT TRIP TO FRANCE
Perfumes are made up of essential oils, which create the fragrance, and are mixed with distilled water and alcohol. Essential oils are simply oil from the plant it has been extracted from. Over the years the methods of extracting these oils have developed and improved.
One of the oldest, most time consuming methods of extraction is Enfleurage. Although rarely performed in the modern day, this is where a ‘Chassis’, a large framed glass plate, is smeared with animal fat which is then allowed to set. Then petals or whole flower are placed on the fat and allowed to diffuse over the course of 1-3 days. This process is repeated by replacing the petals or flowers with fresh ones until the fat has reached the desired degree of fragrance. This particular method was actually developed in Grasse.
Now, essential oils are generally extracted through two key methods, Distillation such as steam distillation or Expression whilst Solvent Extraction is used to extract Absolutes, which are more concentrated and highly aromatic oils.
Did You Know?
It takes roughly 12,000 Rose petals to product 5ml of Rose Essence. Whilst with Lavendar it can take 100 kilos of leaves to produce 3 litres of Lavendar Essence.
There is also a fragrant farm about 4km from Grasse where the entire crop of May Rose is processed for only the production of Chanel No5 extrait. Thats 35-40 tons May Rose Petals a year!
It’s no secret that our sense of smell plays a key role in our lives. It is closely linked to how our brain processes emotion and memory, alerts us to danger like gas leaks, fire or rotten food and it also affects our sense of taste by helping us distinguish ‘tastes’ by our sense of smell.
At MONU we wanted to explore the connection between fragrance and feeling and learn about the history and anatomy of fragrance itself. So where better to visit than the world’s perfume capital, Grasse.
Located in the south of France and home to many perfumeries, the MONU team visited Molinard. Established in 1849, Molinard has remained a family-run business to this day and have even created a fragrance to represent and pay homage to each of the 5 generations that have grown the brand. With a dynamic history of experiencing and implementing the ever developing methods of essence extraction to taking in visitors such as Queen Victoria in 1891, creating “the most tenacious perfume in the world” in 1921 and comforting French Soldiers during the Second World War with their “Prisoners Parcel”, Molinard have really become experts in all things fragrance.
The Evolution of Essence Extraction
The Creation & Structure of a Fragrance
Once the oils have been extracted, they are then ready to be blended together by a master in the field, who is also known as a “nose”. There are three levels to any fragrance and they determine how long certain ‘notes’ can be smelt for and how they work with other ‘notes’ in the fragrance. Notes in perfumery are descriptors of scents that can be sensed upon the application of a perfume. Take a look at our perfume pyramid to find out more.
At Molinard the MONU team were tasked with smelling over 90 different essences. Thankfully Molinard identified which essences worked at each particular level of the perfume pyramid, as some fragrances may only work as base notes whilst others can work in two of the levels such as the top or heart notes.
Given a pyramid and instructions to choose a minimum of 2 essences per level the MONU team put their noses to the test. With the ultimate goal to rely upon instinct and feeling for the team’s personal fragrances the MONU team were then asked to dip cards into the essences and note which they were and start to place them on the pyramid to build their fragrance, starting from the base notes and working their way up to the top notes.
The PERFUME PYRAMID
Molinard’s expert “nose” helping the team was the very talented Céline Demets. Céline guided the team to find the missing note that would transform their fragrance, advised on quantities when putting their fragrance together and was able to distinguish the team’s personal perfume preferences just by looking at the perfume pyramid they’d created.
After smelling the combination of notes on the scent cards that would ultimately make up the final scent of the fragrance, the MONU team then blended together their perfume by using pipettes to extract the oils from the essence bottles and, following the advised quantities, combined them into a simple and elegant ‘L’atlier des Parfums’ bottle.
The MONU team would like to extend out their greatest thanks to Céline and the team at Molinard for creating such an inspiring and very educational workshop at Le Maison Molinard! Merci Beaucoup!
For more information about Molinard please visit http://molinard.com/en/home