Since the day one of our Bastide adventure, we have been working closely with Mathieu, our “Nose”, to recall the Provence he knows from childhood and to reimagine it into a transportative collection of fragrances, equally evocative for those who may love and frequent the south of France regularly to those who visit it in their dreams and imagination.
We went to visit him in Grasse to witness the extraction of jasmine, used in several of our fragrances, and got to ask him some questions on his craft that is both a imaginative art and an exact science.
Originally from Grasse, the cradle of French perfumery in Provence, Mathieu has always bathed in this universe – it is in his blood and roots. His grandparents farmed and produced plants specifically for perfume, so from a young age, Mathieu picked the rose and jasmine every summer morning. "I knew I wanted to become a perfumer. I witnessed the craft from the perspective of all these natural ingredients and raw material, and I was very intrigued by the idea of transforming these flowers, these ideas, these perfume of emotions.”
After a chemistry degree at the University of Nice, Matthew joined the prestigious perfumery school created by Jean Jacques Guerlain at Versailles, where he studied for two more years. To be a Nose, one must recognize that it is both a creative field, but also highly technical as it requires a strong scientific background to understand the chemical reactions between the ingredients and how they dance and interact with our skin.
Perfumery is an area where there are many called, but few chosen. The training and materials is exhaustive to learn.
"We must learn to intuitively recognize all the raw materials – they are our alphabet," said Mathieu. Each raw material is like a letter that is put together with other letters to make words – some simple and straight forward, and some read more like sentences for the more complex scents. Letters, words, sentences. "There are 2,000 to 3,000 raw materials in the palette, I regularly use it from 600 to 700," he explains. His favorite? "I have a preference for the rose and jasmine scents as these remind me of childhood memories, but I am also fond of incense, iris and vetiver," he adds.
Contrary to popular belief, Mathieu at work in New York is a scene far from the cliché of the perfumer in a sterile lab, pipette in hand. "I do not work in the lab because it is a fragrant place. I need to be in an odorless space, where I can imagine my formulas and notes like a recipe," he describes.
"Actually, I think it is best to describe the work of fragrance-creation like fashion,"
"I work as a fashion designer who first imagined the dress that he wants to create, then sketches the idea on paper, and finally then, do I bring to life the prototype using raw materials. Sometimes it does not work – how our dreams meet reality - we must make changes to the dress or perfume, to get a perfect result."
Our team spent days and weeks with Mathieu and his team between New York and Grasse, noodling each scent to perfection until it is equally evocative, surprising, and imaginative. With Bastide, our family of scents is rooted in Provence, the region he calls home in the south of France, so Mathieu was able to dig into his personal past and also help us reimagine a modern Provence. His favorites? “Rose Olivier - I especially love the unique story of the Rose Olivier. "
Grasse roots with New York sensibilities, Mathieu is a Beautisan in the image of Bastide: modern, subtle, elegant; a breath of fresh air straight from Provence.
We adore our Beautisans!