Grasse peaked in the first part of the twentieth century, a period when many of the natural products processed by Grasse manufacturers were sourced locally. From the 1960s onwards, large international groups purchased the Grasse factories and their synthetic scents offered perfumers an increasingly rich and varied palette but the very attractive prices meant their success was often at the expense of natural products... and sometimes quality perfumes. The biggest cost of producing perfumes is in the harvesting and the only alternative for jasmine, the flagship of Grasse, was "to grow it elsewhere".
Between 1970 and 1980, property development took place at the expense of agricultural land: jasmine crops were then moved to the Nile Delta in Egypt then to South India. Today, these two sources provide 90% of the world production.
Today, some rose centifolia is still grown in Grasse through a partnership between Chanel and Mul à Pégomas, while rose Damascena is grown in Turkey and Bulgaria. Orange blossom is now grown in Tunisia; tuberous disappeared from the Grasse landscape to reappear in India; violet leaf remained partly in the Grasse region and in Tourette-sur-Loup but competition developed from Egypt; mimosa remained but competition grew from Morocco and India.
Of the thousands of tonnes of flowers used in the early twentieth century, tens of tonnes were still harvested here in 2000 thanks to the 40 hectares of crops (jasmine, rose, tuberose, violet, mimosa). While the global market for perfumery stalled due to concerns about its overall strategy so restricted by ecological, economic and policy issues, young producers from Grasse struggled to raise the profile of their region. It is generally heirs of family heritage that refuse to disappear and want to maintain the tradition.
Although production in Grasse is now reduced, the know-how is still there and just waiting to be used and continued. It is the same for the iconic and prestigious image that Grasse has in the world of perfumery. This is the meaning of the "Grand MIP" project. As a living memory and ambassador of perfume around the world, the International Perfume Museum's mission is to present the various aspects of this industry. Just like the preservation of a perfume factory, the creation of a perfume plant conservatory remains essential for the preservation and enhancement of Grasse's industrial heritage and its expertise.
The stakes are high since the project aims to:
1. Protect a natural heritage with globally-recognised quality for future generations.
2. Protect the tangible and intangible expertise unique to Grasse.
3. Meet the high expectations of Grasse residents and tourists who miss floral crops in the urban landscape.
Complement the perfume production line presented on a future industrial site and at the International Perfume Museum, through the first of its links: the raw material.
Historically, botanical conservatories and museums have experienced a similar trend. The history of the first botanical gardens shows, just like for the first collections that gave rise to museums, that their creation and operation were closely linked to education for students. As museums, they subsequently became places of research open to all, but places where the non-specialist audience could only marvel, without understanding, at the beauties that were available to them. At a time when many museums such as the International Perfume Museum are getting a makeover and where collections are not presented to the public in their entirety but according to a theme or a scientific discourse, botanical gardens are becoming living museums.