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Flowers, Shoots and Leaves with L’Occitane en Provence

If the Sanskrit word ‘Ayurveda’ translates to mean ‘Science of Life’, and is about using natural ingredients, would it be alright to use it for a brand that is not from India, and does not use Indian herbs? If the answer is ‘Yes’, than the French skin care brand L’Occitane en Provence qualifies as Ayurvedic. Although present in nearly 90 countries, the French brand arrived in India four years ago, with Gilles Moutounet as Country Head L’Occitane India.

Within India, herbal and Ayurvedic products are well ensconced in the beauty and skin care industry, along with a few home-grown brands of repute that have gone global. In such a scenario, it was interesting to note that L’Occitane en Provence has managed to successfully mark its presence and build up a following. Gilles Moutounet took time out to give the readers of The Luxury Chronicle an insight into what makes L’Occitane en Provence special.

What is the USP of L’Occitane?

L’Occitane is all about natural products from the south of France, made using high-quality, and traceable, natural ingredients. Each collection tells a story, with products and ingredients that help perpetuate tradition. The brand is about authenticity, sensoriality and respect.

The products stimulate the senses, as they offer a moment of well-being and sensory delight. By ‘respect’ I mean that we respect the planet through the use of environmentally friendly materials, recylced and recylcable materials, etc. We respect people – our customers, by offering clear and transparent communication; our employees, through the continuous improvement of their working environment; and our suppliers, by building long-lasting relationships.

What is the founding story of the brand?

The Company was founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan. He was born in Provence, and loved the land. He wanted to do something to promote the region of Provence and its natural ingredients. Baussan used steam distillation process to extract essential oils.

I understand that the name L’Occitane means ‘the Occitan woman’. But you do have men’s products. Which are these?

Earlier the products were for women, but now we have a wide variety of offerings for men ranging from skincare to body and bath products.

Are all of L’Occitane’s products manufactured only in France? Does the brand use natural products that grow in Provence region only

Yes, all of the 300 L’Occitane’s products are made in France. Majority of the Star ingredients used in our products are from Provence, such as the Immortelle flower.

Is the full range of these products available in India?

Our core products which are the pillars and the best selling products worldwide are available in India. We are not able to offer entire range for various reasons. One is that the store sizes here are not big enough to stock the 300 products available in our product portfolio. Also, there are some L’Occitane products like fragrant candles, prized at Rs 2000, which are not suitable for this market. Candles are freely available in India at various stores for much less.

Which product from L’Occitane’s range is most popular?

Divine Immortelle range for skincare. It is made from the Immortelle oil extract and is excellent for the skin, with anti-aging properties. Also very popular is Shea butter for hand and body.

Tell us about the Immortelle product range.

Immortelle is a flower that never fades, even when picked. Its Latin name, Helichrysum, means “golden sun” – like its magnificent golden flowers. For Corsicans, it is a flower symbolic of the maquis (the fragrant scrubland of Corsica), with a captivating scent. The Balagne region is also known as “the garden of Corsica”. In 2001, at the heart of this fragrant region, L’OCCITANE discovered this extraordinary wild plant. The immortelle has medicinal properties known in Mediterranean traditions: anti-bruising, anti-inflammatory (more effective than arnica), and healing. The three ranges in the Immortelle series of l’Occitane products are –
i) Divine :- The range had already received many international awards. It was voted Best Anti-Ageing Miracle Cream by the Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible, with an enthusiastic jury commenting on the”exceptional performance of the formula”.
ii) Precious :- Immortelle essential oil acts in synergy with cell extracts drawn from the very heart of the flower to help boost the skin’s mechanisms for correcting wrinkles and restoring firmness.
iii) Brightening:- Many factors influence the beauty of a face, but perhaps the most important one is light: the light that shines on the skin and the way it is reflected. In this collection of targeted skin care products, L’OCCITANE has combined the anti-ageing-properties of immortelle with Bellis perennis. the skin is naturally brighter and radiant.

Indians as such have a penchant for fairness creams. Are L’Occitane’s Brightening skincare ranges akin to fairness creams? Are they more popular than your other products?

The Brightening skincare range is not promoted as a fairness product. The range addresses concerns of pigmentation, spots, while making the complexion even toned and brighter. Customers with the stated concerns have the range as their favorite.

There are 70 L’Occitane spas in 25 countries. How many are there in India? Are there plans to open more?

We have 6 spas in India currently with a couple of more Spas set to open this year. The Spa in Khyber hotel in Gulmarg, Kashmir has been rated as one of the best Spas by Conde Nast.

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