Numéro discovers Matière Première’s private farm in Grasse, France

Deep in the countryside in the south-east of France, about 11 kilometers north of the Mediterranean Sea and an hour away from the Italian border, you will find the city of Grasse. Considered the perfume capital of the world, Grasse is an oasis of nature and home to miles of flower fields. Numéro was fortunate enough to visit as a guest of fine-fragrance house Matière Première, discover the house’s private farm there, and be introduced to their newest fragrance: Crystal Saffron.

In the 16th century it became en vogue to sell perfumed leather wares. The European elite loved to wear leather gloves, but because most modern-day techniques to treat leather weren’t invented yet, they produced a very unpleasant smell. During the mid-Renaissance an ingenious perfumer from Grasse gifted Catherine de Medici a pair of perfumed leather gloves, and she became enamoured by the invention. Thus the “leather perfumer” was born, with Grasse right in the center of this story.

Thanks to its rich history and the unique microclimate the city resides in, Grasse has been regarded as the world’s perfume capital since the 18th century, producing tonnes of flowers and 70% of the raw ingredients used in French perfumes. In this vicinity you will also find the family farm of Aurélien Guichard, the mastermind behind cult-favourite perfume phenomenon Matière Première.

Aurélien’s resumé is beyond impressive, lending his nose to a wide variety of fragrance houses and designing perfumes for names like Versace, Burberry, Gucci, and Issey Miyake. In 2016 he made the first step towards a house of his own by starting a private farm in the domain of Grasse. This eventually lead to the birth of his own Matière Première in 2019. ‘Matière Première’ is French for ‘Raw Materials’, the name being inspired by Aurélien’s unique vision of modelling his perfumes around a central ingredient instead of abstract concepts or commercialized themes.

These “Matières Premières” play a central role in the story of Aurélien’s perfumes, being the only perfumer to grow his own Rose Centifolia, as well as growing his own Tuberose and Lavender. His Rose Centifolia is the key ingredient in his cult-favourite perfume ‘Radical Rose’, while the Tuberose he grows shapes his second-most recent release, French Flower. On the occasion of the start of this year’s Tuberose harvest, Numéro was invited to Grasse to discover the family farm and experience the Tuberose harvest for ourselves.

Here we not only learned how to pick our own Tuberose (Tuberose is famous for its regenerative properties, so its petals should be picked carefully and in a specific way to ensure the prosperity of the plant’s many future yields). We also got introduced to Matière Première’s brand-new fragrance: ‘Crystal Saffron’: A pure blend of Saffron, Ambroxan, and Somalian Incense Oil.

All Aurélien’s creations are genderless and comprised of only a handful of pure and oversee-able ingredients, establishing his position as a modern perfume house that understands the needs of fine-fragrance consumers anno 2022.  It is safe to say that Crystal Saffron is already one of 2022’s favourite discoveries for me, as is the house of Matière Première.

Matière Première is available in the Netherlands exclusively in-store at Skins Cosmetics and at skins.nl

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