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Chanel Perfume Bunny Kinney

Watch a hazy, floral-filled film about the magic of scent

TextNellie Eden

What was the scent of growing up like for you? Three wordsmiths, inspired by Chanel’s Gabrielle Essence Eau de Parfum and its core ingredient, the tuberose, explore the ripeness of youth on the verge of full bloom, directed by Bunny Kinney

To see the flower fields of Grasse is a once in a lifetime experience. Nestled in the hills that cradle Cannes to the North, Grasse is the legendary home of Chanel fragrance. Best visited at sunrise, the meticulous farm transforms from a hushed violet hue into a sun-soaked, white-flecked grassy vision. As the sun travels across the sky, straw hats bob through dry earth track as field workers hand-pluck the flowers that will form the basis of the raw materials for perfumes. Across five acres, five different types of flora are harvested especially for Chanel’s iconic fragrance wardrobe. 

The artisanal heritage of Grasse stretches back to the 12th century, which began life as a tannery of sorts. Now the long-standing heritage of Chanel fragrances is synonymous with both craft and style. For as Coco Chanel herself explained, the ephemeral quality of scent makes it the most sensual addition to a fashion house: "no elegance is possible without perfume. It is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory.”

In 1921, Ernest Beaux the creator of Chanel’s No. 5 scent chose jasmine from the lush region of Grasse for his now-iconic composition. It would remain a signature note throughout the house’s history. In 1987, in response to the steady decline of jasmine production in the area, Chanel nose Jacques Polge initiated a partnership between the house of Chanel and a family who had been working the soil for over a century. The Mul family were the region’s most important growers and this partnership ensured the heritage of the land and of Chanel itself would be safeguarded for future generations. 

So, when it came time for Olivier Polge, current perfumer-creator of Chanel, to create the next big fragrance for the house, he naturally turned to Grasse and the legacy protected by this father over 30 years previously. 

“Flowers have always played a major role in the history of Chanel fragrances,” Polge says. “But there wasn’t a truly floral fragrance in our repertoire. It was still a relatively unexplored territory.”

Gabrielle Chanel Essence is an evolution of the 2017 fragrance Gabrielle Chanel, updated into a velvety, sensual scent. “Gabrielle Chanel Essence retains the radiant facet of the original score, but carries it into a creamier and more enveloping world,” says Polge. “Gabrielle Chanel Eau de Parfum is airy, as if dazzled by light, while Gabrielle Chanel Essence is more opulent, as if plunged into a nectar of flowers and bathed in a warmer light.”

To capture the essence of Gabrielle, Polge took as his starting point the combination of white flowers that have been the signature thread through Chanel fragrances since the time of Ernest Beaux. This famous combination of orange blossom, ylang-ylang and jasmine was then given an added note of Tuberose, intensifying the scent. Not just any tuberose, this specific flower is exclusive to the house of Chanel, who bought the bulbs of the last Tuberose producer in Grasse in 2011. 

Inspired by the flower fields in Grasse, and the tuberose specifically, from which Gabrielle Chanel Essence fragrance is created, we invited three young female artists to talk about coming-of-age and the scents that defined their youth in a short film, “Some Things About Flowers" directed by Bunny Kinney. Singer and songwriter, Cosima, poet Lily Ashley and singer Evangeline Lily perform their own writing, about flora, growth and coming of age as well as including spoken word poetry and song, and extracts from French poet Mark André Raffalovich's 1855 love poem "Tuberose and Meadowsweet" throughout the film. The women are paired with footage captured in Grasse's famed harvest fields in full bloom. 

A flower is never more perfect, or fragrant, than in the moment after it blooms. 

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