EDHEC Learning expedition to Grasse

On July 3rd 2017, Edhec in collaboration with HEC Montréal organized for selected executives, a learning expedition to the city of Grasse, the world perfumery capital. The day was dedicated to understanding how Grasse managed to leverage its territory between mountain and sea, its three centuries of heritage and its unique savoir-faire to revive the ancestral perfume sector and attract the investments of the greatest luxury perfume Houses. The major actors in the renaissance of Grasse, including the mayor Jerome Viaud, discussed the future development of the region during an inspiring roundtable.

Grasse expertise in the growing of fragrance flowers (such as Centifolia Rose and Jasmine Grandiflorum), as well as in the transformation of the flowers into a ‘concrete’ (the initial solid extract) and then into an ‘absolute’ (the liquid concentrate featured in perfumes) is transmitted from generations to generations. “Our crops are to the perfume profession what handmade lace is to Haute-Couture” states the leaflet presenting Grasse exceptional know-how (Les fleurs d’exception du pays de Grasse).  To protect its identity and origin, Grasse is engaged in obtaining the IGP label (Identification Geographique Protégée) and recognition of its living heritage by Unesco. Jerome Viaud is involved in preventing fields to be built, in order to expand the growth of fragrance flowers.

The renaissance of Grasse is supported by major luxury perfume houses. In September 2016, LVMH opened a fragrance creation center in Grasse, Les Fontaines Parfumées (the fragrant fountains), which will host master perfumers Jacques Cavallier Belletrud (the ‘nose’ of Louis Vuitton) and François Demachy (the nose of Dior). The perfume houses get closer to their local partners along the supply chain. In May, Christian Dior Parfums had reopened Christian Dior’s former mansion from 1951 to 1957, Château de La Colle Noire, in Montauroux (Grasse region). The perfume La Colle Noire, conceived by François Demachy, is a tribute to Christian Dior’s love for Grasse and its Centifolia Rose. Chanel contributes also to the sustainable growth of fragrance flowers. Its digital journey “From land to fragrance” emphasizes Grasse as the local source of its perfume ingredients. Since 1921, Chanel N°5 is made out of jasmine grown in Grasse.

Watch a short extract of the roundtable:

Also, the serie of short movies “The Quest for Essences” by Dior: