Frederic Malle is the internationally esteemed perfume house that creates Editions de Parfums collections by the world’s most renowned Noses. Combining Malle’s olfactory knowledge with the expertise and personality of each perfumer, each nose is allowed creative control in developing their scents with passion and soul. The result is revolutionary, avant garde scents that hero their creator, listing their names on the bottle and celebrating their art, just as you would an artist.
I am a huge advocate for finding your signature scent and wearing it, not having it wear you. Frederic Malle has been mostly my perfume of choice since I was 25 and first moved to London. Portrait of a Lady was my first scent, a scent you won’t enter a room without being stopped and complimented on. Since then, I have expanded my collection and now wear Superstitious (at night, usually for a date or when I want to feel sexy), Carnal Flower (for day to day, when I want to feel feminine) and Musc Ravageur (for a late evening cocktail). I am hugely passionate about this brand and it’s founders work.
Here, I share my conversation with the brand’s education director, Lori Woodhouse.. I hope you enjoy diving into the brand through our in-conversation. xHermione.
1. Frédéric Malle creates scents intended to make the wearer (feel) sexier. How do Frédéric Malle’s scents do this?
All the perfumes are created with limitless boundaries. Some of them have more sensual raw materials than others, like Carnal Flower for example. Tuberose is a heady scent, very sensual and carnal. This fragrance gives the wearer the ability to explore a more sensual impression. All fragrances should be a personal choice that with the skin fusion create the impression you desire.
2. What inspired Frédéric Malle to be the first to celebrate the perfumer on his bottles and within the brand?
Frédéric felt that perfume at one point became more about the marketing than the fragrance itself. Frederic’s friends would rather wear nothing than what was bring offered on the market at the time. This gave him and idea as he had worked with many of the top noses in the world.
He decided to start his own brand with the nose as the star and not the bottle or image (marketing). He calls himself a perfume publisher and the noses in fact are the writers of these beautiful perfume creations. He gave them what the companies at the time didn’t, complete creative freedom, no budget and no time limit. This enabled them to create these works of art that have their names on the bottles for the first time.
3. Talk to me about the relationship between fashion and perfume.
Frederic has worked with some of the worlds most respected fashion designers that are also his friends. Superstitious, the collaborative perfume with Alber Elbaz and another with Belgian designer Dries Van Noten. I can’t say that Frederic would think there is a direct link with fashion and fragrance, but I think he would agree that both are expressions of someone’s individuality, and he believes that a perfume should be reflective of the wearer. It’s not one size fits all.
4. How should perfume be worn?
There is no prescribed way that Frederic would say. He believes that people should spray perfume in whichever ways they choose. The neck, chest and wrists are great places for wearing fragrance and they are the most popular. I also think that depending on the mood I am setting will dictate where I am wearing it. If I am wanting to project a more sensual mood I might go for the neck as then I know someone will have to get in close to experience it. If it is for a meeting I might go for the wrists and chest as I know I can have more of a projection.
5. What process should one consider when selecting their signature scent?
You should try a few on blotter cards, narrow down to 2 and try them on the skin. The skin fusion is so important. The wearer should have a comfort and fit with the perfume. You should wear it, it should not wear you. It needs to be the right match. The in-store Perfume Advisors are amazing at this and we have a service that was created to help find your signature.
6. How should perfume be worn for different occasions?
Fragrance is all about mood and impression. I would choose something different for a board meeting than a romantic dinner with my husband. I am always thinking of how I would like to be perceived or remembered when I choose my scent, it is a powerful tool to enable this. I have even heard of actors choosing scents for different characters to help them when filming. Fragrance can really enhance the mood you want to give and feel in that moment. I have several to choose from so I can do just this.
7. Understanding it is different for each perfumer and for every scent, what is the usual process that is undertaken to develop a Frederic Malle perfume?
Frederic gives the perfumer total freedom. They have no limits at all. Some can take longer than others as a result. For example, Frederic smelled 690 trials of Carnal Flower, and it took 18 months to reach the final perfume. Each fragrance was developed in its own time and process, no two are alike, as individual as the perfumes are, so is the process. This is really what allows the perfumer to create such a masterpiece.
8. How often does Frederic Malle release new products and scents?
As you can see from the process it would not be possible to have a traditional marketing calendar like commercial brands do. It depends on the creation time of each perfume and each is different as the perfumer.
9. What’s next for the brand?
Frederic keeps this a closely guarded secret like all his creations.
My preferred Frederic Malle scents //
Portrait of a Lady by Domonique Ropion | Sophisticated and Elegant.
Superstitious by Dominique Ropion | Beauty and the scent of a dress.
Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion | Blooming magnetism.
Musc Ravageur by Maurice Roucel | Savage Sex Appeal.
Angeliques sous la pluie | Fresh nature.
For my man //
French Lover by Pierre Bourdon | Raw masculinity.
Lys Mediterranee by Edouard Fléchier | Summer Sea Breeze.
And For Home //
Country Home [candle] | Fireplace in Scotland.
Thank you to Frederic Malle and his team for the interview opportunity.