In the beginning...
The history of lemongrass is as old as that of the first civilizations. Native to Asia, more specifically India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, citronella has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal and aromatic properties. Ancient texts of traditional Indian and Chinese medicine mention its use for a variety of ailments.
Lemongrass first made its way to the West in the 17th century, during colonial trade. Its ability to scent and repel insects made it popular in Europe, and it was used in the manufacture of perfumes, soaps and lotions. Today, citronella remains an essential scent in the perfume industry.
Although lemongrass originated in Asia, it is cultivated in many parts of the world for its resilience and growing demand. The main lemongrass producers are India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Guatemala and other tropical and subtropical countries. The warm, humid climate of these regions is particularly conducive to the growth of this plant.
Growing lemongrass is fairly straightforward, due to its natural hardiness. The plant prefers well-drained soil in full sun, and can tolerate a certain degree of drought. It is generally planted in spring and harvested in early autumn, when the stems and leaves are richest in essential oils.
What do you know about citronella in perfumery?
The process of transforming lemongrass into perfume involves extracting the essential oils from the plant by distillation. The stems and leaves of lemongrass are usually steam-distilled to extract the oil, which is then cooled and collected. This essential oil is the main ingredient used in perfumery to obtain lemongrass's distinctive aroma.
Citronella belongs to the citrus family of scents. These fragrances are often characterized by fresh, sparkling and invigorating notes, typical of citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, bergamot and, of course, lemongrass.
Lemongrass has a very distinctive olfactory profile. Its fragrance is often described as fresh, lemony and rosy. It also has a sweet herbaceous note that evokes a feeling of cleanliness and revitalization. This penetrating, persistent fragrance is often associated with freshness and energy, and is particularly appreciated for its ability to repel insects.
In perfumery, lemongrass blends well with many other ingredients to create complex, seductive accords. It is often combined with other citrus fruits to enhance the freshness of the fragrance. It also blends well with floral notes such as jasmine, rose and lavender to create a balanced fragrance. Lemongrass can also be combined with woody notes such as sandalwood and cedar, which add depth and warmth to the fragrance.
Popular lemongrass perfume
• Pour Monsieur by Chanel
Launched in 1955, Pour Monsieur is Chanel's first fragrance for men, and remains one of the classic references in men's perfumery. This chypre fragrance opens with citrus notes of lemongrass, neroli and cardamom. The heart reveals a blend of coriander, basil and ginger, resting on a base of oakmoss and vetiver. The fragrance is elegant, refined and timeless, perfectly reflecting the aesthetic of the House of Chanel. It is often associated with a classic, sophisticated vision of masculinity.
• 07.2 MORNING IN TIPASA by Pierre Guillaume
Wild Citronella, Peppermint, Mediterranean Pine, Bergamot, Jujube Honey. This fragrance draws its inspiration from Albert Camus' novel Noces à Tipasa (1938): the author vibrantly depicts summer, the rites of youth in Tipasa, with its Roman ruins and the sea below, exalting nature and the beauty of bodies under the sun.
"Possession de l'onde"... Camus' words echo in my perfumer's head and my mind wanders among the relics scattered between sea and mountain, cataloging Algerian flora: bergamot trees, wild lemongrass, peppermint, Mediterranean pines and jujube trees in the "sun-blackened" countryside. Diving into the water from the rocks one morning in Tipasa...