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the woman who defends flowers against urbanization or climate change

the woman who defends flowers against urbanization or climate change

According to legend, the perfume tradition of Grasse — a medieval town in southeastern France — owes its origin to Catherine de’ Medici. When the Italian became queen of the Gauls, in the Renaissance, the tanners in the area gave her gloves that they perfumed with aromas to camouflage the smell of leather. It is documented that in the 16th century the region already mastered the art of growing flowers to make fragrances. Today their crops are the best valued by the noses of the whole world. How much is real and how much is marketing? In addition to know-how, “it happens like with wine”, explains Carole Biancalana, a floral producer in the region, “when you plant in one part of the world, the terroir influences: factors such as soil, climate, altitude… Flowers give us molecules that express themselves in different ways, and in Grasse there is a microclimate that favors orange blossom, tuberose, rose or jasmine to have very interesting facets”.

Carole Biancalana

Carole Biancalana Biancalana is the third generation at the helm of Domaine de Manon. Photo: BRUNO CHIAPPE FOR CHRISTIAN DIOR PARFUMS

Biancalana is the third generation at the helm of the Domaine de Manon, a four-hectare area in Grasse: “When I was young, I didn’t even consider dedicating myself to agriculture. I studied psychology and worked in a bank. But one day I saw myself in that cubicle and I had a revelation, my place was in the field”, among sacks of petals, in connection with nature. A pastoral epiphany that in everyday life is not so bucolic. Just 20 kilometers from Cannes, the territory struggles with urbanization, much more profitable than delicate flowers, with climate change and the intransigence of the weather: “When I decided to return with my parents I found that we did not have contracts, that it was difficult sell flowers and with storms or late frosts that killed the harvest…”. The 21st century was beginning and relocation was also threatening the perfume industry. “In 2005, after a very difficult harvest, I created the association Les Fleurs d’Exception du Pays de Grasse, to preserve and establish relationships.” There were two producers then, today almost 30. A year later she met François Demachy, then Dior’s perfumer, and her good connection with him led her to sign an exclusivity agreement with the house. “I felt that he understood me, his respect for raw materials and that he could save the Domaine de Manon, which was going through many difficulties at the time. They helped my family business. It is more than a contract, it is a relationship by which we share the risk”.

Domaine de Manon

The Domaine de Manon, a four-hectare expanse in Grasse. Photo: POL BARIL FOR CHRISTIAN DIOR PARFUMS

The investment of the big perfumery companies allows a break for the producers, but not everything remains in private hands. The State is already in charge of safeguarding the urbanization plots. To protect the craft, Biancalana campaigned for years, and in 2018 Grasse’s perfume-related skills were awarded UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity distinction. There is now a whole new generation of young growers (mostly women) reinvigorating the industry and ensuring that the best flowers in the world continue to grow in Grasse. “We contribute a small part to the perfume bottle, but there is a lot of work, tradition and passion behind it. When someone wears a fragrance it is important that they know everything that is behind it”. Its objective? To honor Catherine Dior, the sister of the couturier, “who had a very difficult life, with a lot of suffering and a lot of pain, but in the end he found balance and happiness in his roses.” Precisely on a plot not far from Carole Biancalana’s.

Miss Dior Rose Essence

The limited edition Miss Dior Rose Essence is a vintage fragrance, the result of the distillation of the entire May 2021 Domaine de Manon rose harvest. The remains of those petals are used to make the recycled paper for the packaging. Photo: Dr.

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– Article Written By @Patricia Rodríguez from https://smoda.elpais.com/belleza/carole-biancalana-grasse-dior-domaine-manon-rosas-perfumeria/

Nicole Aniston