“Flowers Are My Teachers And Allies”
Emine Boyner, a herbalist and artist, chats with Valerie Dayan on her experience in the fields of Chanel.
Tell us about yourself and your relationship with plants and flowers.
I’m someone whose work and life are guided by plants and flowers. As an artist and herbalist, I feel they are my teachers and allies, not only through their physical relationship to the human body and their healing gifts but also through their friendship, which keeps me connected to nature and, therefore, myself. I am always inspired by wild plants, especially their ability to thrive in various environments, from rich, lush soils to barren land and asphalt. I practice and share my practice of herbalism in a way that views plants as teachers and the land as a body, an extension of my own body, and therefore respects both the individual plants and their connection to the larger ecosystem and creation herself. I live in Ayvalık, Cunda island, a small town on the Aegean coast of Ayvalik, and I create soaps, herbal blends, and artwork in my workshop, Atolye Patika, which for me is a giant cauldron bubbling with the healing gifts of the Earth.
What were the highlights of your experience at Grasse?
I was deeply touched by Chanel’s connection to the fields of beautiful flowers taken care of by the wonderful Mul family. The way they practice agriculture with utter respect for the flowers, picking and caring for the flowers by hand and respecting both the workers in the field and the plants themselves is a breath of fresh air at a time when the art and craft of caring for the Earth are rarely practiced in this way. Chanel has indeed brought a sense of trust that it is also possible to grow in a way that authentically stays connected to respect both art (perfumery in this case) and the land herself.
How did the fresh Jasmine scent and the harvesting experience make you feel?
It was genuinely euphoric to breathe in the essence of Jasmine flowers among the fields, almost like living the breath of the flowers. I felt surrounded and immersed in beauty. Once the plain truth of our oneness with the land is seen, it is easy to see that caring for the Earth, in turn, is caring for the creation of whatever we produce. I was delighted to witness the incredible connection Chanel and Olivier Polge have to the flower fields and the final product of the perfume.
I know that you don’t usually wear a lot of fragrances. How did the Grasse experience and meeting with Olivier Polge, reshape your olfactory approach?
Yes, I haven’t worn perfume in years. I mostly prefer applying pure essential oils or herbal oils and prefer their direct connection to the plants. However, as opposed to most perfume creations nowadays, the perfume creations of Olivier Polge directly carry me to the flower fields, as the ingredients have now come from the flowers themselves. I was also very inspired to listen to Olivier Polge’s approach to his art and the creation of perfumes as one would create music or a painting, in which the final art becomes more than some of its parts. The fragrances are beyond blends but a work of alchemy, having transformed into something beyond the individual flowers, a creation with an essence of its own. I was very touched to witness this incredible transformation and magic.