Skin & Fragrance Blog by Thom Watson

Men's Fragrance, L’Occitane

L’Occitane Collection de Grasse: An Interview with Karine Dubreuil & Review

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It was wonderful to attend the pre-launch press event for the new L’Occitane scent venture last month and to be able to meet with their nose and creator, Karine Dubreuil. The new collection of four scents, Collection de Grasse, have all been lovingly engineered by Karine and designed to capture her French home of Grasse, the international home of fragrance.

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Each fragrance has two unique ingredients that shouldn’t really belong together, but through fate or accidental chance, have done and work spectacularly. This is reflected by the bottle design, a heavy, thick glass, emblazoned with an embossed ampersand, featuring also on the black, metal lid.

The bottles are quite beautiful to hold, they feel masculinely robust and of fine quality but also something delicate that you’d be more than happy to have displayed in your bathroom or bedroom stand.

Jasmin & Bergamote

Day and Night

I had to start with this, it’s my absolute favourite. I love anything with citrus and lemon but this is soemthing different. It has the juicy and sweet citrus of the Bergamot but set against a fine, floral Jasmine.

Top Notes: Orange & Bergamot. Middle Notes: Jasmine & Lemon Leaves. Base Notes: Sandalwood & Cedar.

Don’t be fooled however, I don’t think this is particularly feminine, but actually quite the opposite; granted it’s not what you would expect from a traditionally masculine fragrance but it would smell great on any guy, understated and confident.

Magnolia & Mûre

A Mysterious Coincidence

Not sure how I feel about this. It’s teaming with French blackberry which I love, but then Mûre, or Magnolia as we’d know it, is very floral and almost voilet-like. Actually as I write this, it’s struck me, it’s like a delicious concoction of Parma Violet (apologies if you’re reading this Karine).

Top Notes: Bergamot & Blackberry. Middle Notes: Magnolia & Rose. Base Notes: Patchouli & Moss.

I like it, I think this could become a very cult scent and I can see almost any woman wearing this, my own mother was ecstatic to try it out and she’s been wearing it since. I think the important thing to highlight is that it’s a very accessible fragrance.

Vanille & Narcisse

Brazen Happiness

This is mouth-wateringly sweet and if you’re not familiar with Madagascan vanilla, it’s not what you’d expect at all, it’s a much fuller-bodied and woodier species of vanilla. The narcissus then gives fabulous delicacy to the scent, weaving in and out of the vanilla. This is definitely a scent for her.

One thing that I found really interesting was this and I hadn’t at all picked up on this until reading the scent breakdown, there’s blackcurrant and again, bergamot, just heightening those top notes but it’s really not obvious.

Top Notes: Blackcurrant & Bergamot. Middle Notes: Narcissus & Gardenia. Base Notes: Vanilla & Tonka Bean.

For anyone that was a fan of the recent Thierry Mugler Alien Essence Absolue, then you’ll love this. It wets your mouth, it’s sweet, it’s delicate but without being over-bearing.

Thé Vert & Bigarade

Shared Memories

I’ve got you down this far, so here it is, the Collection de Grasse signature scent for men. Think Italian colognes such as Acqua di Parma, then also 4711 and even Alvarez Gomez, but here there is more depth, more delicacy, intimacy and intricacy. The major differences are the uses of straw and yerba mate, a species of holly, that gives a wholesome and more well rounded finish.

Top Notes: Orange & Bitter Orange. Middle Notes: Green Tea & Yerba Mate. Base Notes: Cedar, Thyme & Musk.

With Father’s Day coming up, he will definitely thank you for this and I think it’s a safe scent that you can’t fall far short of. That Japanese green tea is certainly something to be reckoned with but equally so with the Tunisian bitter orange oil, it’s lurks there like an extra sour jelly sweet that will certainly serve to salivate.

When Thom met Karine Dubreuil

Karine has long since created fragrances for L’Occitane, and is the incredible mind behind Eau des Baux one of my first and still most cherished fragrances. Karine’s successes are Guerlain, Gucci, Jo Malone and Yves Saint Laurent but to name a few. Karine attended the world renowned Grasse Institute of Perfumery.

I was so pleased to be lucky enough and spend some time with her for a sit and a chat about her history with such a fabulous brand.

What was it that attracted you to fragrance in the first place?

I grew up in Grasse, I spent my time in Gardens and my two grandmothers, they had these beautiful gardens, places where I felt so free. There are so many olfactory emotions and so always felt very close to nature. Also I love to eat, my mother is a good cook so unconsciously I have so many olfactory emotions.

In Grasse, everybody knows perfumery and perfumers. A close friend of my parents was a perfumer and she would bring me to the lab when I was a little girl and she would let me smell her works.

I cant’ tell you that at 10 I was wanting to be a perfumer. I wanted to take care of the animals, I wanted to sell candies!

I discovered through a bit of research that my favourite L’Occitane fragrance, Eau des Baux, is made by you. Which has been your favourite?

Eau des Baux [we both laugh]. I loved so much working with this, I loved the vanilla and the spice. It’s very particular. I was not sure about it but the response was so good. Usually men love fresh fragrances, so this was the contrary to men’s fragrances. But I was very prod to create it, but sometimes you’re the only one! Sometimes I read on the blogs that men are very happy with it, so that is great for me.

I assume it’s very good to get that kind of feedback from the blogs?

It’s very nice to see how very passionate they are, we don’t always know, we just create it, it goes on the market and we get no response, only the sales. So it’s great to see the emotion that you [self] have created.

I know this might be an obvious question but who has been your favourite brand to work with so far?

[Karine smiles] L’Occitane has been my favourite brand to work with so far. I discovered it 10 years ago. They were my childhood, they were seeking me to create my childhood emotion so when when I was to receive a project from L’Occitane it was obvious. We really discovered each other and when I had been successful with one fragrance after another, after another, they approached me. I really had so much pleasure to work on this project and so with this I can finally do what I love, it’s part of my emotion, part of what I love.

The Collection de Grasse will be launching this May at L’Occitane online and stores nationwide.

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