Summer in Provence, if you have ever experienced it, has a languid, romantic, allure like no other place on earth. And the scents—lavender fields, roses, olive trees can linger in the deep recesses of your brain forever. (Sounds sappy? Maybe, but if you have been, you know of what I speak.) Want to bring back those memories, or just pretend you are there for a moment? Anything from, Bastide, Aix-en-Provence, a line of home and personal fragrances, lotions, candles, soaps and more launched by Frédéric Fekkai and his wife, Shirin von Wufflen should put you in a Provençal mood.
Bastide, is not a new line, but rather a reinvention of Cote Bastide, a family-run business which began 25 years ago in Aix (where Frédéric is from). Frédéric and Shirin have a home (or bastide as the French call it) in Aix and had long been fans of and used Cote products. Fast track to 2017, Frédéric and Shirin have taken over Bastide in hopes of continuing and expanding this artisanal line. “We had been talking about making a line of products we could use as a family, on ourselves and our children,” said Shirin, when I spoke to her at the Bastide breakfast launch yesterday. “One that we could also recommend with confidence to our friends and families.”
Instead of starting from scratch, Frédéric and Shirin went back to his roots. “It’s about using old traditions to make something that’s really great for today,” Shirin continued. “We go to individual family businesses. We call them our “beautisans”. We have one guy who just does our hard soaps. He’s a master savonnier. Then we have a woman who just does our liquid soaps. They’re made from coconut oil and olive oil. No glycol. Everything is completely non-toxic.”
There are three scents that permeate everything in the collection: the fresh Neroli Lumiere (lemon, cassis, orange blossom, neroli, amber), the woodsy Ambre Maquis (tangerine, rose, patchouli, amber) and the green floral Rose Olivier (bergamot, rose, peony, musk)
Shirin’s favorite? Rose Olivier. “Frédéric was in Grasse, which is where we make our fragrances, and he saw an olive tree that was in bloom and he said ‘This is so crazy, why does this olive tree have the most beautiful flowers in it?’ The guy he was with explained that sometimes in the South of France, rarely, but it happens, a rose bush falls in love with an olive tree and grows into the olive tree and blooms throughout the tree. It’s like the ultimate love story. They stay together for the rest of their lives and they live symbiotically. They actually strengthen each other. The rose is feminine. The olive is the masculine and the fragrance, it’s a really beautiful combination.”
Proof Provence’s allure has a profound effect on nature too.