Denis Dailleux first sets his camera in Morocco, among the mountainous terraces of Tirdouine. Iris is growing there, at an altitude of 1, 600 m. Women collect the rhizomes which will be hand peeled and put to dry for more than three years, before the perfume eventually flourishes. Subsistence farming is still quite important in the area, therefore the cultivation of Iris and the income it generates are essential for local families.
We are then led to the desert areas of El Kelaa des M’Gouna, where the roses valley stretches from the Dadès oasis. The Damas roses are cultivated on the fences between agricultural parcels. Their heady fragrance can be smelled kilometres away. The roses are hand-picked by the women in the early morning. The end of the three harvest weeks is celebrated through all the oasis.
In the industrious region of southern India named Tamil Nadu, the cultivation of jasmine flowers and tuberoses is mostly dedicated to the huge flower markets where necklaces and petals are intended for hindu offerings. The tuberoses, those small ivory flowers topping long green stems, have to be cropped around 1 A.M. . Women in saris bend on their right side then on their left one to delicately pick up this flower which perfume is among the headiest of the vegetable kingdom. The harvest of jasmine flowers begins at dawn. Their very intense smell contrasts with their extremely fragile petals.
The world’s most beautiful vanilla grows in Madagascar, in the tropical forest of the Sambava district. Its cultivation asks for special care; each step has to be carried out by the hand of men, from manual pollination to drying the beans after skilfully boiling them. Beans are sorted out all along the process in order to keep the purest ones only.
The journey terminates on the Comoros islands where the ylang-ylang grows. Its name means « the flower of flowers ». Venerated by the people who cultivate it, the ylang-ylang has to be picked at dawn and distilled in the next two hours so that its complex and delicate fragrance would not be spoiled. About 50 kg of flowers have to be collected in order to produce one kg of essence.