A Tale of Seven Malles ...
In the words of my friend Ruth, "Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums are really something unique. FM apparently approached these perfumers and said, basically, 'you make your perfect scent, whatever you want to do. I'll bottle it and put your name on it.' I always thought it was neat that the perfumer's name was on the bottle, but never realized truly that they were given carte blanche to create anything they wanted. This is why there is no common thread running through all these fragrances, no 'signature.' It's so interesting, and really a unique way to approach perfumes. More often than not, I bet perfumers are approached to make something specific. You give a really top creator free reign ... and it is so interesting to see what they create."
Last week, the coveted small box from Paris arrived (merci, Aurore et Tiphaine!) and I continued my own exploration of Malle fragrances.
I already love UNE ROSE (per my review on a much-frequented fragrance board):
"'Truffle accord,' hm. Well, there is a rich fermented scent to the first sniff of Une Rose, Edouard Fléchier's creation for Frederic Malle. But that could also be the "wine dregs" stated in the fragrance notes, which include Turkish rose absolute and geranium. Une Rose is a complicated mix deserving the "heady" label. There's a fecundity to this perfume, a fertility. No girliness here. A serious rose scent that demands respect. It's beautiful but requires thought. That's ok. I'd like to be perceived that way. Nice."
...and I have great affection for Ralf Schwieger's LIPSTICK ROSE, the ladylike confection that reminds you of your mother's scent as she bent down to kiss you before her big night out. (Notes include rose, violet, musk, vanilla, vetiver and amber.)
I had previously struck out with Michel Roudnitska's NOIR EPICES (although his DelRae Debut is a contemporary classic and holy grail for me). Although I very much like spice/woods fragrance, I couldn't get past Noir Epices' predominant geranium. (Notes also include nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and pepper, orange, sandalwood and patchouli.)
The FM site states that if Pierre Bourdon's IRIS POUDRE were a garment, it would be a cashmere sweater, appropriate for most occasions, a grand floral aldehydic. I can't add much except to say that this is the fragrance for one who wears, or covets, Hermes. A bit of the grande dame, exceptionally ladylike. And, of course, not really me, except on days when I'm playing dressup. Its notes: tonka bean, musk and vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver.
MUSC RAVAGEUR. Like half the civilized world posting on our frag board, I ADORE this fragrance by Maurice Roucel. An earthy citrus that transforms into a your-skin-but-better scent that is the absolute best to wake up to (actually it does have a bit of male animal smell to it. Even better. As if someone left a bit of himself with you. YUM.) Notes: bergamot, tangerine and cinnamon, vanilla, musk and amber.
Jean-Claude Ellena's L'EAU D'HIVER is said to be a fragrance of winter and warmth. Those who love it find it reassuring, comforting ... it is too transparent for me. There doesn't seem to be any there, there; I cannot find enough heat in it. I feel about this fragrance the way I feel about minimalist decor: beautiful but how can people live there? The notes of this fragile fragrance include white heliotrope, iris and honey.
The biggest surprise: the eroticism of Dominique Ropion's UNE FLEUR DE CASSIE. It takes a woman to know a woman ... and this is the uptown Gallic cousin of Vivienne Westwood's Boudoir. Even FM declaims it "intoxicating, bestial, bordering on coarse," its notes including mimosa absolute, jasmine absolute, cassie absolute and rose absolute, with carnation as counterpoint and a vanilla and sandalwood base. The FM site also says this fragrance is homage to scents of a woman in the 1930s, voluptuous, unafraid. HOOWAH! My grandmother would have worn this to catch one of her five husbands.
So ... four out of seven: the Frederic Malle stats. A wonderful line; the four that are winners to me are exquisite. And, for a change, the noses get the credit.