also available at:

These Flowers Are The Reason Why Your Chanel Fragrances Smell So Good

Floral notes – from jasmine to rose – play an integral role in formulating Chanel's signature fragrances and the maison always turns to five types of flowers which are grown exclusively in its own backyard so to speak (in the hilly fields of Grasse north of Cannes to be exact). Here, we explore how each flower is meticulously harvested and how they play a fundamental role for each of the brand’s most iconic fragrances.
The bloom: May Rose
There’s a reason why this feminine bloom is called the May Rose – it is only harvested in the early mornings in May. The freshly plucked flowers are carefully transported to the mill so as prevent their delicate petals from breaking.   They are wilted in the heat before they are given three consecutive baths in solvent, gently stirred and then brought to high temperatures. The solvent absorbs the odorous components, giving concrete form to the fragrance.   The concrete is then transformed (1kg of concrete yields about 600 g of rose absolute) and infused into the respective fragrances. Similar to other rose scents, this is definitely sweet but what’s distinctly cool about the May Rose is its unique combination of sweet and spicy notes.  The bloom: Grasse Jasmine
These delicate flowers are harvested from August to Oct just before the sun rises to ensure its freshness. The baskets are then covered in a wet cloth to maintain its delicate form and weighed within three hours of its picking before being submerged at high temperatures in a solvent that will soak up all the fragrance during extraction.   Once the solvent has evaporated, the remaining substance turns into an aromatic concrete wax, which will then be transformed into an absolute that will be used in the formulations of its fragrances. Unlike any ordinary jasmine flower, this is a much sweeter option and boasts a delicate yet sensual profile. The scent: N°5
The house’s first-ever perfume, this O.G. was launched in 1921, and is still an icon till today. This opulent scent is formulated with both the Grasse Jasmine and May Rose as its key notes. The fragrance also boasts zesty top notes of lemon, orange, and aldehydes, before revealing a lightly floral and subtly musky second note for an added sensual appeal. The bloom: Tuberose
This flower is said to be the most fragrant one in the plant kingdom with its honeyed sweet scent. The blooms are plucked from the soil in Nov and Dec where the bulbs are removed and stored away from the cold weather. The regeneration of the tuberose flower is a long process.   Only four bulbils are kept around the bulbs: the youngest are placed in the nursery to be “nourished” until they can be replanted when the weather is warmer, and the larger bulbs are stored in the cellar to prevent them from sprouting.   The process then continues in April when the young bulbs are replanted. In the following year or two, between August and Nov, farmers will begin to harvest the newly bloomed flowers in the early morning before the sun rises. These are then immediately taken to the petals are poured into the extractors and used in the formula once ready. The scent: Gabrielle Chanel Essence
This new addition to the maison’s fragrance family was launched this year and boasts a complex and intense floral scent that is powdery fresh and crisp yet slightly warm and opulent thanks to the inclusion of the Grasse tuberose.  The bloom: Iris Pallida
Harvesting this plant involves a long and most tedious process. It is first planted in late August and blossoms in the months of March and April. What’s interesting about it is that the roots (also known as rhizomes) are the key part here as they boast a mysterious and complex scent that’s woody yet floral and powdery.   The rhizomes are extracted from the soil in Sep using a custom-built machine to remove the dirt. Only the largest are kept and trimmed of their rootlets while the smaller ones are set aside to be replanted in Oct. These are then washed and cut into strips.   The rhizomes are then placed in a ventilation chamber to be dried before being stored to age for three which allow them to naturally ooze a soft, powdery odour. The matured iris rhizomes are ground into powder and then mixed with water and added to a still. The next day, a flow of steam is driven through the raw materials to collect the essence, which will then be used in the fragrance. The scent: N19 Eau de Parfum
Named after Coco Chanel’s birth date and launched in 1971, this floral-woody fragrance is a lighter take on the N°5 thanks to the iris pallida. Notes of ylang ylang, lily-of-the-valley and rose are also infused to further heighten the sweetness and delicate scent of this fragrance. The bloom: Geranium Rosat
Chanel uses the delicate, minty and slightly rustic essence found in the layer beneath the leaves of the plant which is said to be a distant cousin of the rose. The stem and leaves are harvested using a custom-made mowing blade before Sep 15 each year (yes, it is that specific) when they are slightly matured.   After being taken to the processing plant, the stems and leaves will undergo a six-hour-long distillation process to obtain a clear, pale green essence which will turn amber as it matures. The essential oil is then separated from the water until a clear solution is obtained.  The scent: Boy (Les Exclusif de Chanel Eau de Parfum)
Launched in 2016, this unisex fragrance is a vibrant and elegant scent with top notes of grapefruit, lavendar and lemon – proving that men’s fragrances can include floral notes in its formulations.