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  • Writer's pictureTony

04. A Material Love Story: Rose

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

She's called the Queen of Flowers for a good reason.

It seems fitting that on Valentine's Day we consider the ubiquitous rose, who has forever been known as the Queen of Flowers, and for good reason. The use of rose in perfumery, food, wellness, medicine and culture at large, dates as far back as 2,000 years. In Classical Greece, Cleopatra's Egypt and in Ancient Rome as well as throughout history in general, the rose has been a flower devoted to celebration and love and associated with mythological goddesses like Aphrodite and Venus, but it has also been representative of such ideals as freedom and accomplishment. In Caesar's Rome, mmancipated slaves were showered in rose petals upon being liberated and ordinary Roman citizens enjoyed numerous public fountains, spraying fresh rosewater, that refreshed pedestrians on the streets of Rome. In public amphitheaters, awnings that protected the upper classes from the blazing sun were saturated in rose oil to provide a perpetually pleasing aroma as the oil was heated.

Rosewater, the byproduct of the steam distillation process, has for centuries been a cultural staple and continues its popularity today as a refreshing hygiene and purification ritual across many societies. In perfumery we use rose essential oil expressed via any number of ancient and modern processes to showcase the beauty of the flower. Rare is the floral aroma that doesn't use some rose oil, as it is considered not only beautiful, but foundational to any well balanced scent. Though most of the world's perfumery roses are grown in Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco, the most famous are cultivated in Southern France in a small town called Grasse, whom many consider to be the cradle of perfumery. During a five week period between May and June, a very small crop of exquisite and very expensive roses are harvested by men and women in straw hats, who walk up and down the rows of bushes snapping off the pink rose heads in the early morning hours. They drop them into pouched aprons worn around their waists and are quickly transferred to burlap sacks to be rushed to the local processing plants. It is here that the race to capture their ephemeral aroma intensifies before their magnificent aroma fades away forever. #Grasse #Rose #Centifolia

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