Children of Grasse. Photo details from the Villa des Parfums ©
“Star light, star bright,
First star I’ve seen tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.”
Star Light, Star Bright. Digital art by Gail Gross ©
As the planet Venus rises, as Vega, Altair and Deneb twinkle in the summer evening sky, I recite, as I have since childhood, this little nursery rhyme, and make my nightly wish upon a star. I blush and wonder at some of the wishes I remember making, but interestingly I now understand that, in one way or another, most of these wishes have come true, my hopes have been realized. Happily, in Grasse, the magical heart of perfumery in Southern France, the hopes, dreams and wishes of many at risk and marginalized children are coming true every day thanks to the vision and generosity of Nicole and Vincent Derieux of Villa des Parfums.
Villa des Parfums. Photo by Villa des Parfums ©
“The Villa des Parfums brand is the culmination of over a decade of work in the community of Grasse with children, youth, their families, and local artisans”. – Villa des Parfums
Nicole and Vincent Derieux and their family in Grasse. Photo via Villa des Parfums ©
In 2008 Vincent and Nicole Derieux established the non-profit Parfums de Vie (Fragrance of Life) to help bring real solutions to the poverty, exclusion and literacy issues faced by many children and youth in the town of Grasse. The couple didn’t set out to start a perfumery. They set out to change lives.
Together with their business partners, Vincent and Nicole purchased a 19th century perfumer’s mansion and by 2010 had restored the building and transformed the space into a luxurious vacation rental, a home for their family and a place where they could host trainings and events to help the local community. Funds from the vacation rental were set aside to support the educational projects of Parfums de Vie. Over the course of a decade, the work of the non-profit grew significantly, reaching beyond academics to help mentor children in character development and to offer training in leadership, conflict resolution, business, job and career skills. But the expanding programs also resulted in increased costs.
Villa des Parfums Toujours Espoir and Etoile Céleste via Villa des Parfums ©
Inspired by the flowers, fields and the historic fragrance industry of Grasse, Vincent and Nicole came up with a totally appropriate, natural and creative funding solution – perfume! They decided to explore perfume making as a means to unite local artisans and savvy consumers with the great cause of helping children in need. They told their story to the development team of the celebrated house of Molinard, based in Grasse. Celia LeRouge-Bernard, the first woman to run the family company since its creation in 1849, was inspired by their work and agreed to help them develop their unique and luxurious perfumes. Today proceeds from every sale of Villa des Parfums fragrances goes to support the work of the non profit Parfums de Vie, both in the original mansion and now in the new Parfums de Vie Education and Literacy Center, a safe, supportive place for children and young people to flourish and grow in the perfumed city of Grasse.
Etoile Céleste via Villa des Parfums©
My first experience with Villa des Parfums Etoile Céleste is like a summer wish come true, a delicate, sparkling fragrance, aptly named Heavenly Star. Etoile Céleste opens fresh and luminous, like a starry midnight over fields of flowers. I am immediately swept away by notes of sweet, cool violet lifted by a breath of bergamot and saturated with wet jasmine. This combination creates an impression of summer rain falling, ever so gently, on a vista of blossoms. Etoile Céleste warms as it develops, from evening star to a noontide angelus, a prayer of gratitude revealing the warm, romantic heart of powdery rose and honeyed orange blossom. After 24 hours I can still sense bouquets of flowers, lingering and resting upon notes of cedar wood, vetiver and musk. Villa des Parfums Etoile Céleste is at once retro and modern, a fragrance that captures, for the 21st century, all the timeless elegance and luxury of classical French perfumery.
Toujours Espoir a via Villa des Parfums©
Villa des Parfums Toujours Espoir (Forever Hope), is also a delicate, feminine fragrance – but like her sister scent, she is not simply another pretty perfume! The floral notes in both fragrances are intricately woven to create an intoxicating complexity that I find quite addictive. While Ville des Parfums Etoile Céleste is a timeless tribute to French perfumery, Toujours Espoir is sensual modern chypre, a declaration of femininity, a perfume that focuses on the bright and the positive, a reminder to keep hope in our hearts no matter the challenge or circumstance. The dewy freshness of peony and the bright and buoyant optimism of pink pepper create an immediately cheerful and upbeat impression, putting a smile on my face from the very first breath. Toujours Espoir gradually unfolds, a diaphanous cloak of silken rose petals, velvety jasmine and lush gardenia that stays close to my skin for hours before resting at last on a sweet green bed of Indonesian patchouli, sandalwood and tender musks.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank Villa des Parfums for the beautiful and generous samples of Etoile Céleste and Toujours Espoir. My opinions are my own.
Gail Gross – Senior Editor
Thanks to the generosity of Villa des Parfums we have a draw for one 50 ml Eau de Parfum of either Etoile Céleste or Toujours Espoir for one registered reader in the U.S. or UK or EU You must be registered or your comment will not count. To be eligible, please leave a comment about Gail’s reviews of Villa des Parfums Etoile Céleste and Toujours Espoir, the house’s charitable efforts, where you live, and which fragrance is the one you would wish and hope to win. Draw closes 7/10/2020.
Follow us on Instagram @cafleurebon @villa_des_parfums @azarsmith7
We announce the winners only on our site and on our Facebook page, so like Çafleurebon and use our