The scent of a woman can cast an unforgettable spell on a man. Choosing a fragrance is an important, personal selection for any woman. Fortunately, the range of available perfumes is wide—from herbs and flowers to oils and earths.
The newest scent of French skincare and fragrance brand L’Occitane focuses on the concept of an ideal woman. Arlesienne is a feminine floral fusion, the embodiment of the woman of Arles, the Arlesienne. Elegant and mysterious, the Arlesienne woman leaves in her wake a unique trail that lingers wherever she goes.
Three floral notes
L’Occitane is known worldwide for its core lineup of scents focusing on one key ingredient, like its popular lavender, verbena or green tea ranges.
Deviating from its use of a single highlighted ingredient, the new Arlesienne fragrance is a subtle bouquet of three flowers: rose for grace; sweet violet for mystery; and saffron for temperament.
To launch this special fragrance, the Provence-based L’Occitane held a grand affair graced by international media representatives in the town of Arles in the South of France. Arles is famous primarily because artists like Van Gogh and Picasso lived and painted there. That artistic provenance in Provence spurred the creation of the Arlesienne collection.
Sevrine Miailhe, Rustan’s marketing and communications manager, invited me to the launch, held the same week as Les Rencontres D’Arles, the annual international photography exhibition. The launch was also perfectly timed as my family was on vacation in the area, so I simply skipped a couple of cities and segued to Arles to meet Sevrine.
The Les Rencontres D’Arles featured 40 art galleries and shops, each showcasing award-winning artists and photography exhibitions from around the world. It provided the perfect backdrop to the L’Occitane event.
Olivier Baussan, L’Occitane founder, was on hand to greet the media. He brought us to one of the newest art galleries to reveal the new fragrance. He also introduced us to his artistic wife who designed the colorful images on the packaging.
Inspired by the Venus of Arles, a Roman statue discovered in 1651, and everything it represents, Arlesienne is the first fragrance of L’Occitane that is based on a concept of this mysterious beauty. Thus, the scent brings forth the mystery of the woman of Provence, an ideal of female beauty that was the muse for the many artists who were captivated by the region.
The woman of Arles is still very Provençal. The proximity of the region to Spain lends the Arlesienne woman an intriguing and independent allure.
The Arlesienne fragrance has head notes bursting with joie de vivre—radiant and precious, the saffron flower with its sensual, peppery and spicy notes. The floral composition begins with the freshness of mandarin and the peppery character of saffron flower in bloom.
The heart captures rose from Grasse, complemented by lily of the valley.
Violet at the base is accompanied by milky sandalwood, blonde woods and tonka bean.
Exhibit curated by Lacroix
The event also marked the first collaboration of L’Occitane with renowned fashion designer Christian Lacroix. Apparently Lacroix is a son of Arles and he put together a curated collection of artwork and photographs for the launch.
Staged at the Chapelle de la Charite, Boulevard des Lices, the collection of life-size photographs and contemporary art paid tribute to the woman of Arles. To build this art installation, Lacroix selected almost 250 works on loan from 20 artists, unearthed during his research and reflections.
It was amazing to interact with the famous designer. Lacroix, who is now in his 60s, grew up in Arles and studied classical literature and art history at Arles Lycee Mistral, at Montpellier’s Paul Valery University, then at the Sorbonne and Ecole du Louvre.
His interests include painting, teaching and curating, but the design stars guided him to fashion and theatrical costumes. After learning the ropes at Hermes, Guy Paulin and Jean Patou, he created his own couture house.
Today Lacroix continues to work with La Monnaie in Paris. Recent projects include the interior décor for his fifth Paris hotel, as well as the Hotel Jules Cesar in Arles.
Lacroix and Baussan both hail from Provence, and their common bond gives special meaning to Arlesienne.
Queen of Arles
The launch festivities also included the election of Queen of Arles and her court. They were chosen to represent not just the beauty and grace of the woman of Arles but also the tradition and culture of this elusive persona.
Mandy Graillon was chosen as queen. She told me that she was thrilled with her title, as she has been fascinated by the traditions of Provence since she was a young child. As queen, she is committed to promoting the culture of Arles and will be showcasing the culture and heritage of Provence beyond the borders of the region. Who knows, we may even see her in Rustan’s one day.
Mandy and her maids of honor are the ambassadors of Provence, and it would be beautiful to welcome them to our country and see firsthand their Arlesienne costumes, languages and dances.
At the launch of Arlesienne in Rustan’s, L’Occitane Southeast Asia GM Nancy Ferriman talked about how special this fragrance is with the guests.
Nancy said she likes the hint of Mandarin orange and the enhancement of a few sprigs of lily of the valley. Tapering off to a milky sandalwood note, Arlesienne is truly and uniquely wonderful.
Arlesienne is available at Rustan’s The Beauty Source and L’Occitane boutiques. Check out my fave, the limited-edition Beautifying Powder, a sparkly scented concoction with shimmer. It might just be perfect for Valentine’s Day or the Chinese New Year.
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