Thursday 22 September 2016

Creating at MOLINARD

Molinard is one of three perfumeries still operating out of Grasse in the South of France. The other two are Galimard and Fragonard, and together they form the “tourist trio”. You would be very unwise to dismiss these companies out of hand because they have all managed to survive changing fashions and still produce iconic fragrances. Fragonard has Belle de Nuit, Galimard has Yavana and Molinard has Habanita. All three also have Perfume Workshops with the only real difference being the range of ingredients used. As it’s something that I always enjoy, I was very happy to be invited to experience Molinard’s L’Atelier des Parfums.

Molinard’s workshop takes place in the historic factory at 60 Boulevard Victor Hugo in Grasse. You can also do the experience in the Nice boutique, although you don’t get to tour the factory afterwards. Creating a fragrance can be a daunting task for even the most experienced and so the help that you get from Céline Reinard-Demets, the curator of L’Atelier des Parfums, is wonderful. She starts by asking what type of fragrance you would like to create. Sometimes this question can be met with pretty blank expressions and so she then enquires what fragrances you like to wear. From this she can gauge a fragrance family and then the hour of fun begins.

For my fragrance I said that I would like something in the style of Guerlain’s Nahema but introduce a more masculine vibe. Céline laughed, smiled and then talked at length about its ingredients and history. Her knowledge is exceptional and I would advise any of you that attend to listen carefully. She gave me some suggestions from the ninety essences in front of me but I was left alone to choose my favourites from the whole selection. I chose the base notes, then the heart notes and finally the top. The thing to remember is that the suggestions are there to help those who are new to blending a fragrance, if you already have some experience then the whole palette is yours to enjoy.

It’s good to mention at this point that the essences are all diluted to around 16% and so you leave with a typical Eau de Parfum. Amongst them you have a mix of naturals, synthetics, accords and even some playful notes such as cola! There are some really interesting essences to choose from like oakmoss, ambergris, pear, even heliotrope, and whilst the last three are synthetic they are excellent substitutes. Remember, the workshop is €69 so don’t expect real tuberose or narcissus. What you do get though is a glorious labdanum, although the civet and castoreum are long gone.

Céline talks with you about suggested quantities and then you blend, using pipettes, straight into your 50ml bottle. Do trust that Céline knows how these ingredients work, she’s refined them over the workshop's twenty-two years, and she wants you to leave with something that you will like. Your creation is given a number, you choose a name, and it can be reordered from their website. Molinard also do an enhanced workshop where a further ten ingredients are added and you work one on one with Céline. For more details about all of the workshops you can visit their website at

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