Dana Koh rediscovers Monsieur Christian Dior’s first love of botany, and the flower that reigns supreme: The Rose de Granville

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Picture this:  A delicate cliffrose, pale in colour but flourishing  in rugged climes just a stone’s throw away from the Dior home. Call it a twist of fate or serendipity, but this chance encounter with the delicate but resilient flower sparked intrigue with a group of botanists who spotted it more than 20 years ago. This led to an almost decade-long research and development mission to unlock and harness its ability to flourish with exquisite vitality amid harsh climates.


All his life, Christian Dior has drawn inspiration from blossoms. His first haute couture show starred voluptuous silhouettes that cut an elegant figure around a woman’s curves for a collection called Corolle, named after a circlet of petals. “I have designed flower women,” he said.

From the foliate embroidery and bodices that bloomed from the waist out to wafts of lily of the valley in bold bouquets and spritzes of Miss Dior in the air, botany lies at the heart of all things Dior. This unique horticultural affinity stemmed from Granville, Normandy, home to his family villa (now museum) and his mother’s luxuriant garden, where a young Christian constructed a pergola and tended to rose beds. Born and cultivated from this verdant plot of land were the aesthetic and olfactory codes that form the DNA of Dior today. Some, more literally than others—like the Rose de Granville.


Inspired by the captivating combination of hardiness and beauty encapsulated in that single cliffrose, Dior scientists and ethnobotanists, master rose growers and cross breeders worked through a series of hybrids before coming up with the Granville Rose, the first cosmetic rose specially created for Dior.

Renowned rose breeder, Jérôme Rateau says:  “It is the first time that a rose has been selected not only for its aesthetic and agronomic criteria, but also for its biological properties and molecular composition.”

Exclusively and organically grown in the Loire Valley, France, the Rose de Granville then goes through leading-edge extraction methods to create a concentrate that forms the heart of one of the House’s most grand skincare ranges: Dior Prestige.

While all roses, regardless of their diversity, share two key properties of vitality and resistance, the Rose de Granville extracts demonstrate a genuine complementarity, bringing together 22 micro-nutrients for intensive anti-ageing benefits. Think vitamins E, B3 and B5; essential fatty acids to fortify epidermal tissue; minerals to aid in skin repair and protection; antioxidant phytonutrients that strengthen the skin matrix; and an amino acid, a source of cellular vitality. This concentrate helps to meet the skin’s micro-nutritional needs essential to youthful beauty, and combat micro-infl ammation, a major cause of skin ageing—also known as  “inflammaging”.

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The latest Dior discovery linked to this involves what the skin is like in warm and moist climates—more prone to micronutritional deficiencies with an alteration in skin lipidic barrier functions. Looking to remedy this and to reverse dilated pores and fine lines as a result of it is the new La Micro-Lotion de Rose. Enriched with zinc, copper and magnesium for purifying action, this state-of-the-art essence is part oil, part water and achieves a potent yet sensorial balance of comfort and freshness.

This step comes before the La Micro-Huile de Rose, a jelly-serum loaded with the richest Dior oils. Each bottle holds no fewer than 10,000 Rose de Granville micro-pearls, which deliver deliver extraordinary wealth to the skin through innovative micro-encapsulation formulation.

The first cosmetic rose created by Dior Science in collaboration with a renowned breeder, the Rose de Granville represents a true scientifi c evolution.

Even with today’s boundary-breaking discoveries Rateau says, “We can never know about all the properties of a plant and I’m sure there are more unsuspected aspects to discover…some parts of the plant probably contain other active ingredients that remain hidden for the time being.”

A great discovery and a botanical innovation, there is no denying the magic of the Rose de Granville, as its secrets continue to be unlocked through the decades. ■ 
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"It is a scientific evolution of the brand’s great rose legacy—one that has continuously inspired the entire House through its history"


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From top: The Rose de Granville; Dior Prestige La Micro-Lotion de Rose; Dior Prestige La Micro-Huile de Rose; the micro- encapsulation process; the iconic “Bar” suit; Dior family portrait OPPOSITE: The Dior family villa in Granville, Normandy