L'Occitane Collection de Grasse

L'Occitane have been creating lovely smells for 30 years, but this collection of fine fragrances catapults them into a whole new league. To be honest, we'd be hard-pressed to pick a favourite, too.  Each showcases a pair of ingredients - Jasmin & Bergamote, Magnolia & Mure (OK, so that one probably IS our favourite, with its tangy blackberry edge), Vanille & Narcisse and Thé Vert & Bigarade.  (Bigarade being bitter orange - a real fashion fragrance ingredient du jour.)  Not exactly 'single note' scents:  more pitch-perfect fusions.

Jasmine & Bergamote, for instance, is a green-floral, which features mandarin orange, lemon leaves, cedar and sandalwood, alongside jasmine absolute from Grasse, and Sicilian bergamot.

Magnolia & Mure is a fruity chypre, with bergamot, rose, patchouli and chypre's signature moss underpinning the blackberry infusion and magnolia essential oil.

Vanille & Narcisse also features blackcurrant, bergamot, gardenia and tonka bean, in this Oriental blend.

Thé Vert & Bigarade - a wonderfully summery aromatic - offers up orange, yerba mate, cedar, musk and thyme alongside the Japanese green tea and that bitter orange.

L'Occitane has enlisted an in-house nose for all this:  born in the fragrance heartland of Grasse (which inspired this first collection), Karine Dubreuil trained at the celebrated Roure school of perfumery, and has worked for many Big Name international perfume brands.  Employing a dedicated nose shows just how seriously L'Occitane is taking fragrance:  only Hermès (Jean-Claude Elléna), Louis Vuitton (Jacques Cavallier) and Chanel (Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake) can make that boast.  L'Occitane has created a 'micro-site' on their own site - click here - where you can watch a video interview with Karine, and play a 'make your own watercolour' game.

Fragrance is notoriously tricky to 'prescribe' on-line, so we suggest nipping into a L'Occitane boutique (find your nearest here) to spritz and sniff for yourself.

Meanwhile, we cannot wait to have our senses teased by whatever Karine comes up with next.

L'Occitane, welcome to the world of fine fragrance.

UK readers find L'Occitane Collection de Grasse at www.uk.loccitane.com/£49 for 75 ml eau de toilette - buy here (or click here for the storefinder) US readers find it at www.loccitane.com/$75 - buy here