Essence of a flower

Silhouette effilée du chai Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion conçu par Philippe Starck et Luc Arsène-Henry.

Sleek cellar at Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion, designed by Philippe Starck and Luc Arsène-Henry.

In its latest creation, embodied by Angelina Jolie, the perfumer Guerlain has incorporated armfuls of Carla, a rare lavender species. The unique method of extraction produces an audacious fragrance.

We think of lavender as discreet, tucked into sachets at the bottom of a drawer or slipped between linen sheets. That was until another kind showed up, one different from all the others. It has a name: Carla. And a character: audacious. It keeps company with top chefs, starred, if possible, like Mauro Colagreco; and the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, like Guy Krenzer, who use it to illuminate their dishes. When Guerlain enticed it into a quadrilobe bottle, it began to commune with the Tahitensis vanilla, sandalwood and Jasminum sambac (Arabian jasmine) that compose the brand’s new fragrance, Mon Guerlain. Carla lavender’s character is derived from its roots: the chalky soil in the southern Drôme, on a small organic farm called Baume des Anges. And from a unique extraction method invented on-site by agricultural engineer Laurent Dreyfus-Schmidt: a low-temperature technique “that preserves the fragile molecules, the head notes characteristic of fresh plants.” Guerlain’s perfumer Thierry Wasser was enchanted with the raw material. “This lavender is a rare flower; it has marvelous olfactory properties: extremely luminous, nearly androgynous, it radiates spontaneity and simplicity.” He placed it as the top note, like an apostrophe, an appeal to the audacious femininity embodied by Angelina Jolie, the brand’s new icon.

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