EXCLUSIVE: Lancôme Acquires Organic Rose Domain in Grasse

PARIS — Lancôme is getting back to its roots — literally and figuratively — with the acquisition of an estate growing roses and other aromatic plants in Grasse, France.

Called Domaine de la Rose by Lancôme, the four acres of organically farmed fields also include ancient terraces and a distillery. The brand will use plants from this land in its fragrances.

The move marks the first time Lancôme becomes a domain owner and rose producer. It’s also now a protector of the perfume-making tradition, as the Grasse region is a UNESCO classified intangible cultural heritage site and considered to be the birthplace of modern perfumery.

“The first time we visited this place there was something magic in it,” Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme global brand president, told WWD. “It’s a very old domain; a family has been cultivating it for five centuries.”

She said the purchase of the domain makes strategic sense for the brand.

“Lancôme has for a very long time been a perfumer, using roses in its fragrances,” Lehmann said. “It’s a strategic move, but it’s also a move from the heart, as has always been the case for Lancôme.”

Increasingly, luxury brands are acquiring entire chains of production to help ensure quality and sustainability, both in manufacturing and the surrounding environment.

The rose is Lancôme’s iconic symbol. Armand Petitjean, who founded the brand in 1935, was a rose aficionado. He owned a rose garden outside of Paris, in Ville d’Avray, where his wife cultivated the plants.

On the newly acquired domain, Lancôme will cultivate the Centifolia rose for use in its fragrances. Ultimately, the brand plans to use every element of the rose bush to create new active ingredients and no waste.

Olive, plum and fig trees also grow on the property, which Lancôme will continue to cultivate, as well as plants native to the region, including iris, jasmine, lavender, bitter orange, tuberose and osmanthus.

There will be ancient aromatic plants, too, such as immortelle, verbena and Madonna lily, to be used in the scents, plus beehives.

Lehmann said a goal is to make the new domain open to other stakeholders in order to share knowledge and savoir-faire.

Lancôme already sources roses from a five-acre field in Valensole, France, which are destined for the brand’s skin-care products.

Lancôme has also been sourcing Centifolia roses, jasmine and lavender from another field in Grasse for perfume-making.

Altogether, the three domains equal 10 acres.

“The interesting thing for us as a brand,” said Lehmann, “is to have this ecosystem of roses, where we have the roses [organically] cultivated in Valensole. Those rose extracts are put in our skin-care products, through biotech or green tech, and the Grasse flowers in our fragrances.”

Provence serves as an anchor for Lancôme, for both its skin-care and perfume products, she said, adding they are made with traditional practices as well as advanced science.

Lancôme, a L’Oréal-owned brand, is sold in 130 countries worldwide.

Sign up for WWD's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.