PARIS — Lancôme will inaugurate its organic rose domain in Grasse, France, on May 24, which is being run using ecological horticulture methods and protects biodiversity.
The L’Oréal-owned brand acquired the 9.8-acre site, called the Domaine de la Rose, in 2020. The estate also grows other aromatic plants in organically farmed fields and includes ancient terraces.
“When I visited the domain two-and-a half years ago, I was immediately seduced,” Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme global brand president, told WWD. “We decided to completely renovate it, respectful of the environment. The terraces have been renovated, there is a whole water-recovery system [for rain water], which therefore makes it possible to aim for water self-sufficiency, which at the moment is very important on the Côte d’Azur.”
The site has been entirely eco-designed to be in sync with Lancôme’s wide-ranging sustainability commitments.
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There, the brand is developing a sanctuary for biodiversity to safeguard the land’s heritage and resources springing from nature. At least 163 plant species are growing on this land, and the domain is home to 33 bird species, 31 butterfly species, eight dragonfly species and 12 bat species.
“The primary vocation of this estate is to make Lancôme a rose producer,” said Lehmann, who called Grasse the “cradle of world perfumery.” She explained it’s also important to preserve the know-how of perfume plants’ traditional production methods.
Lancôme has been sowing local plant species and perfume flowers using sustainable, traceable organic methods. The domain’s prior owners were considered pioneers in organic rose and perfume plant cultivation, and Lancôme follows their approach.
To help protect the land, agroforestry methods have been implemented, and for the existing architecture on it, dry-stone walls were conserved and restored with traditional techniques.
NeM agency architects Lucie Niney and Thibault Marca were signed on to rework the main existing building, called the Rose House. That was renovated in the spirit of a traditional Provence-style home but with modern twists, such as geometric silhouettes.
The house’s pink walls — nodding to the color of a rose and a typical hue used on buildings in the region — were insulated with a mixture of lavender straw harvested on the estate and wood fiber, which was then coated with lime plaster. That and other features such as air-conditioning provided by a geothermal heat pump have helped the project be granted the Sustainable Mediterranean Building gold certification.
The domain is also meant to be a place where the brand’s savoir-faire related to perfume plants is transmitted. The location, which has been farmed for about 500 years, will sometimes be open to the general public starting in 2023 so people can learn about Lancôme’s biodiversity efforts, especially those rose-related, during events and training sessions. The house boasts an educational distillery and a perfume organ.
Lancôme is using plants from this land in its fragrances. Starting in June, people can experience the domain’s new Rosa x centifolia flower in the limited-edition fragrance La Vie Est Belle Domaine de la Rose, as well as in the scent Maison Lancôme 1001 Roses.
The site nestles in the heart of Lancôme’s corporate social responsibility and environmental strategy. Already, the brand uses 99 percent organic roses in its skin care and makeup. Among its goals is to use 100 percent organic roses, of which 60 percent will be grown in France, by 2025.
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