The Chanel fields, Grasse France
I have a hard time convincing people – even some of my closest friends – that my job entails a lot more than long, leisurely lunches in the latest establishments, intense shopping expeditions with designers and stylists or luxury press trips to exotic locations, where minions wait on my every whim. Even the pals exposed to regular rants about chasing newsstand sales or the relentless demands of digital deadlines (let alone print ones) don’t buy it. They tend to nod along in faux sympathy, shake their head for effect before indicating to me to pass the wine, while asking “what’s your opinion on the new Dyson hairdryer?” I’ve tried to explain what a day in my life really looks like, but I lose them somewhere around “I sit at my desk and …”. As with everything in life, the illusion is so much more bewitching than the reality.
However, every now and then, I get the chance to live out their fantasy take on my life. For instance, I just spent a weekend with Chanel in Grasse, France, the birthplace of perfumery. I went to discover the journey of L’EAU, their brand new interpretation of Chanel Nº5 – a lighter and sexier interpretation of the classic scent, due out in September. It’s hard to refuse an invitation to play in fields upon fields of roses and still call it work. So I didn’t. Having previously worked as a beauty editor, I appreciate the science behind the marketing spin, and relish any opportunity to peek behind the velvet curtain. Getting to meet Joseph Mul, the owner of the Chanel fields in Pégomas, whose family has farmed the land for five generations, was a real highlight. Chatting with Olivier Polge, the famed perfumer, was a thrill. He was born into fragrance royalty (his father, Jacques Polge, was Chanel’s master perfumer since 1978; before that, it was Ernest Beaux, who created Chanel Nº5). To hear him passionately explain the background to his work was fascinating – dancing with him later that evening to Pharrell Williams “Happy”, unforgettable.
Unfortunately, a weekend with Chanel has set me back considerably in terms of convincing my circle that my life isn’t a bed of roses. This once, at least, it was worth it.
Joseph Mul shares his tips on how to harvest the best of the May roses
A handwritten note, custom made hat from Maison Michel and a sample of the new fragrance from Chanel exude a generous welcome
Rosaleen McMeel with Olivier Polge, the perfumer behind L’EAU, the newest interpretation of Chanel Nº5