Marie Jeanne founder Georges Maubert on the pure perspective of his new scents, and a French olfactory lineage that stretches back over 170 years.
“I wanted to translate the heritage of the fragrance I have been influenced by, but modernize it with aromatic notes like rosemary and petitgrain.”
As the fifth generation of the fragrance house Robertet, which has been cultivating and processing precious fragrance ingredients since 1850, Georges Maubert has literally spent a lifetime surrounded by scent in Grasse, France.
The founder of MarieJeanne started playing in the lab at age five. His first job was helping in the factory doing floral extraction at 16 years old (Luckily, the rose centifolia and jasmine harvests lined up nicely with the summer holidays).
But after working for Chanel, studying the business of fashion in Paris, and working in video production and then marketing for Robertet, certain smells kept coming back to him. They were not finished fragrances but rather, the natural raw materials themselves, and secret scents worn by his family that were never commercially produced. The brand is named for his grandmother, and its eau de cologne, Marcel, is named for his great grandfather, who would start the day with this scent as a base and wear different sprays throughout the day. “It’s a family formulation that nobody has smelled before,” he says. “I wanted to translate the heritage of the fragrance I have been influenced by, but modernize it with aromatic notes like rosemary and petitgrain.”
What has driven MarieJeanne is not just nostalgia but an effort to transmit aromas the way they exist in nature. Scents benefit from access to the same essences, absolues and extractions utilized by houses like Chanel, Dior, and Hermès, as well as a compositional clarity that is as easily discernible as its names. Vetiver Santal utilizes a milky sandalwood from New Caledonia, a small French island off the coast of Australia. “Every time we cut a tree there, we plant a tree, and we have all the systems in place to protect it for future generations,” he says. Tonka Lavande is a modern and genderless scent made with two ingredients he loves, with the warm tonka bean from Brazil bringing sweetness to the classically calming purple flower.
In addition to the fragrances, there are candles made with concentrated wax bases poured into handmade green glass and presented in a wood box. The Tubéreuse candle centers on the heady Grasse-grown flower. Robertet is one of the only fragrance houses that still makes tuberose enfleurage, a laborious process that involves placing individual flowers on a glass frame up against a natural wax-covered panel. “We put the two frames together and leave them for three days,” he says. “The petals don’t touch the wax, but it takes on the scent of the flower. What comes out is more soft and more fine. It’s too expensive so almost no one uses it.”
While the flowers of his youth hold a favored place, as well as the buttery, dry complexity of Turkish orris butter from iris root, he is constantly in awe of the new. “At Robertet, we use 10,000 different ingredients,” says Maubert. “Every day, I discover a new material. I just smelled a new santal from Nepal that is crazy. What is just as important as the raw materials is the small production, made by hand in Grasse,” he says, “the human part.”