Frederic Malle’s Guide to Perfume Gifting and More from Vogue

“A lot of people give Chanel No. 5  for the same reason they might buy an Apple computer—because they think they can’t go wrong,” says Frédéric Malle. “But perfume is more personal than that. It’s not about choosing a ‘good’ fragrance. It’s about choosing the one that’s a good match with the person who will be wearing it.”


Vogue.com features a fun article called Perfume by Personality: Frédéric Malle’s Guide to Fragrance Gifting.  I particularly enjoyed Malle’s choice of fragrances. For the Minimalist, he recommends Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver Eau de Parfum; The Urban Bohemian–Estée Lauder Youth Dew; The Outdoor Adventurist–Les Exclusifs de Chanel Bel Respiro; The Art Collector–Dior Miss Dior (original) and Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert Extrême; The Vintage Enthusiast–Rochas Femme and Caron Pour un Homme. To read the rest, please follow this link.

Also, the French edition of Vogue.com includes a beautiful spread on solid perfumes, Jolies Concrètes. It’s in French, but the pictures say everything.

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26 Comments

  • Allison: Interesting article! L’eau d’hiver is one of my all time favorites. Also, thank you very much for the pastry recommendation at Jacques Genin in Paris, it was wonderful! December 18, 2012 at 8:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad that you liked it. I would be happy to drive to Paris just to eat his pastries. December 18, 2012 at 10:38am Reply

  • George: Hmmm. Not sure about Malle’s gift selection method………. It’s a bit like that landscape of his perfumes he has drawn, where he plots the movement of the perfumes from topnote to dry down: it seems to be a reductive way of thinking about perfume and people. December 18, 2012 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s nothing particularly intellectual or serious, just the old-fashioned “perfume by personality,” similar to what Vogue does with its fashion looks. But I liked Malle’s choices, and especially since he didn’t recommend only his own perfumes. December 18, 2012 at 10:40am Reply

  • Ann-Sofie: Nice articles – thanks for some entertaining reading. I am a bit curious about solid perfumes – I’ve never tested fragrance in this form. Do you put them on the same places as liquid fragrance, and how about sillage and durabilty in comparison? December 18, 2012 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: They definitely stay closer to the skin, so the sillage is moderate. But the tenacity should be excellent. The only concern I have is that depending on the solid base, it may spoil faster than an alcoholic perfume. December 18, 2012 at 1:30pm Reply

      • Ann-Sofie: Aha, many thanks! Something to store in the fridge then. And to apply with abandon…. December 18, 2012 at 5:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: I didn’t think of the fridge, but that’s a great idea! December 19, 2012 at 6:58am Reply

  • Absolute Scentualist: I thought it was a fun little read and appreciate that Rochas Femme was on the list since it needs more love, in my opinion. However, I have to say that in Chanel No. 5′s defense, gifting it to me is always a great choice since it is such a staple in the classic aldehydes section of my wardrobe and that beautiful three piece set out this year is very intriguing. I go through a lot of No. 5. ;) December 18, 2012 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I also got Chanel No 5 as a gift, and I loved it, but I think that there is something to Malle’s comment. It’s such an iconic fragrance that for most people it’s the first perfume gift idea that comes to mind.

      Yes on Rochas Femme! It deserves more love for sure. December 18, 2012 at 1:29pm Reply

  • L.: Malle recommends Miss Dior for it’s LOTV and rose notes and there’s a link to the new Miss Dior instead of “l’original.” Doesn’t Vogue have a fragrance editor? December 18, 2012 at 1:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, a good catch! I don’t think that they have a special fragrance editor, but I may be wrong. December 18, 2012 at 1:26pm Reply

  • Daisy: I liked that he chose a very wide range of perfumes too! And very gracious to not include any of his own.

    But what I especially liked was his approach to finding the right gift: really pay attention to what your giftee wears (if he or she wears anything) and when he or she wears it. That advice is solid for all gifts, not just fragrance. December 18, 2012 at 1:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: Apart from L’Eau d’Hiver, but it fits the Minimalist description perfectly anyway. December 18, 2012 at 3:58pm Reply

      • Daisy: Oh, yes. Well, I guess if you have to have one :-) December 18, 2012 at 4:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: :)

          I would also add En Passant. It seems perfect for someone who wants a streamlined, polished scent. December 19, 2012 at 6:54am Reply

  • Ferris: What a wonderful article Victoria! I enjoyed reading Frederic Malle’s tips on selecting a perfume for a person. Picking a fragrance for someone can be very difficult. You have to match their their personality otherwise the perfume will sit on the shelf and collect dust. Plus I was delighted to see one of my favorite perfumes listed in his list ( and I’m also wearing it today) Caron Pour Homme. My perfect lavender, vanilla and musk fragrance. I love that scent so much. I guess I’m a Vintage Enthusiast at heart, what can I say? December 18, 2012 at 1:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was also glad to see Pour Un Homme and Youth Dew. The coincidence was that I was wearing Youth Dew as I read the piece. In small quantities, it’s such a memorable perfume. December 18, 2012 at 3:59pm Reply

  • annemariec: Speaking as a ‘vintage enthusiast’ I was thrilled that Frederick chose Rochas Femme for me. How clever of him!

    ‘It’s really of another era’ adds Fred. Sigh. Yes, too true.

    (But man! I would never risk giving Youth Dew to someone I was not EXTREMELY well acquainted with! It is right up there with Angel as one of the world’s most divisive fragrances.) December 18, 2012 at 5:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I would be reluctant to give Youth Dew to anyone, unless I know that they love it. It’s such a polarizing perfume. But still, kudos to Frederic for including it. December 19, 2012 at 6:55am Reply

  • nikki: Yes, I liked his choices, too, but for me he could have included one of his perfumes in each of the categories, they are just so amazing… December 18, 2012 at 8:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Well, we can do it for him. I would give The Vintage Enthusiast a bottle of Iris Poudre. December 19, 2012 at 6:56am Reply

  • mysterious_scent: Very interesting!
    For the minimalist, I’d pick something, a lot of things, from JCE. His Osthmanthus Yunnan is my favorite. December 19, 2012 at 5:53am Reply

    • Victoria: True. Anything from JCE would be perfect, even though I read in his interviews that he dislikes his perfumes being called “minimal.” But I can’t think of anything embodying spare elegance more than his fragrances. December 19, 2012 at 6:57am Reply

  • D: Malle’s picks may have been in consultation with the editor who might have requested some love for her advertisers.

    I like his comment about distinguishing between those who only wear fragrance to special occasions and everyday wearers, but the other categorizations are a bit rigid. Some of us are urban minimalists one day and vintage romantics another day. I also never understood why its assumed that if someone has one fragrance in their wardrobe, they should be another similar to it.. If you already have Angel, why not The Vert, or instead of an Angel imitator.

    My suggestion would be that for someone who likes “Name” luxury handbads, would probably like a “name” perfume. (And, yeah, this would probably mean Shalimar or Channel No. 5); some one who thinks of themselves as a nonconformist (the one who will list the five most important indie rappers who are earning quite a rep in the Seattle area) will be flattered to receive a niche scent.
    The person who already has way too many perfumes loves variety and would love a coffret set.

    If a person has a drawer stuffed with samples, just give them a a small empty bottle with a gift certificate for a ‘full bottle” of the giftee’s chosing. December 20, 2012 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: In this case, I doubt it. First of all, Frederic Malle is a respected enough expert that editors wouldn’t try to push him to pander to the advertisers. Plus, the online editions are more casually treated as far as the advertising is concerned. December 20, 2012 at 3:10pm Reply

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