Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums

Fmalle340v3 It has become a conventional wisdom in the world of perfume lovers that the large houses are often constrained by iron logic of the stock market. The logic dictates the production of fragrances that should appeal to as large number of people as possible in order to boost sales. Yet, to paraphrase John Stuart Mill, the common mean between creative excellence and wide appeal is often a “collective mediocrity.” Needless to say, as in almost every case, there are exceptions. However, it does not stop a fragrance consultant with an appreciation of beautiful things from thinking up a clever scheme—give nine of the most famous French noses as much creative space as they need to compose a fragrance of their dreams. There are few limitations in terms of price of the materials and the theme of the perfumes.

Frédéric Malle, grandson of the creator of Parfums Christian Dior Serge Heftler and nephew of the film maker Louis Malle, was born in 1962 in Paris. A self-proclaimed hedonist with a love for lilac, Joël Robuchon’s cuisine and Bach suites, he recalls that his love for beauty was fostered by his parents, especially by his father. “I am a sensual person,” says Malle in an interview. “You have to know how to look, smell and feel things.” Malle started working for Roure Bertrand Dupont in 1988, after finishing his degree at the New York University. Before starting Editions de Parfums in 2000, Malle was working as a fragrance consultant for Christian Lacroix, Chaumet and Hermès.

Unlike the common practice in the world of fragrance, Frédéric Malle places the perfumers in the spotlight. Every bottle is prominently labeled with the name of the artist responsible for the scent within. What is the result of the “auteur perfumery?” If Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums were paintings, they would be more suited for Center Pompidou than for Louvre, because they are truly modern compositions, even though many are classically composed, respecting the tri-tiered construction model. Such is Pierre Bourdon’s Iris Poudre, a composition capturing the scent of irises held close to the beautiful chest covered with a thin layer of powder. Other fragrances are conceived in a more linear style, minimalist and elegant as the lines of Giacometti’s sculptures. Cologne Bigarade created by Jean-Claude Ellena is a reflecting his predilection for clear and strong lines bathed in soft light. One thing is for certain—these fragrances must be sampled.

Editions de Parfums

Angéliques Sous la Pluie by Jean-Claude Ellena
Bigarade Concentrée by Jean-Claude Ellena
Cologne Bigarade by Jean-Claude Ellena
En Passant by Olivia Giacobetti
Iris Poudré by Pierre Bourdon
L’Eau d’Hiver by Jean-Claude Ellena
Le Parfum de Thérèse by Edmond Roudnitska
Lipstick Rose by Ralf Schwieger
Lys Méditerranée by Edouard Fléchier
Musc Ravageur by Maurice Roucel
Noir Epices by Michel Roudnitska
Une Fleur de Cassie by Dominique Ropion
Une Rose by Edouard Fléchier
Vétiver Extraordinaire by Dominique Ropion
Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion

Carnal Flower will be released in September of 2005 and will feature notes of tuberose, orange blossom, coconut and camphor. According to Frédéric Malle himself, it is the ultimate seduction perfume.

The first Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle boutique was opened in 2000 at 37, rue de Grenelle in Paris. Its interior, conceived in a collaboration with Andrée Putman and designed by Olivier Lempereur, is marked by clean lines and unique system of testing fragrances from olfactory columns. Although it is quite an interesting way of experiencing scents, I much prefer the traditional skin test.

In addition to another store on Avenue Victor Hugo, which opened in 2004, Editions de Parfums line is available at Taizo in Cannes, Dries van Noten in Antwerp, Natan/Treize in Brussels, Barneys New York, Isetan in Tokyo, and at Flinders Way Boudoir in Melbourne. One of the most appealing additions to the line is a test kit, which contains 5ml atomizer bottles of each fragrance available. Tester kit and the fragrances along with the ancillary products are available online at Editions de Parfums site.

Photo: Frédéric Malle.



  • parislondres: Dear V! I have tried all the perfumes listed but sadly got bored with the ones I liked PdT, Brigarade (both), Noir Epices, En Passant, Angeliques, L’eau d’hiver and Musc Ravageur and have given most of my bottles away.
    I did hear about the tuberose fragrance a few months ago and I do hope that it will be a beauty and most importantly that I will not get bored with it.

    xoxo August 1, 2005 at 4:25am Reply

  • Felicia: I am thrilled that FM is releasing a Tubereuse. Afterall – the collection seems incomplete without one. My only concern is that the nose is Ropion. Une Fleur de Cassie is quite strange and I can only imagine tubereuse in his hands. I anticipate something quite unique but I hope wearable since this is one of my favorite notes. This is THE house that started it all for me so it has nostalgic appeal to me. I own several but over the past year only reached for En Passant and Musc Ravageur which I believe says more about ME and my short attention span when applied to fragrance than the collection. August 1, 2005 at 9:15am Reply

  • Sisonne: Great review, V ! I know several of the Malle fragrances & I own En Passant & Lipstick Rose. Though I like Lipstick Rose very much, I can´t bring myself to wear it…that´s rather strange, but I hope one day I´ll wake up & want to wear it all the time 😉 That also happened to me with MPGs Fraîche Passiflore, bought it, didn´t want to wear it & then last year I wore it the whole summer… – But back to F.Malle: I think all of the fragrances are very balanced & nice to wear, to me they all seem to be rather “quiet” fragrances which can be worn easily – well, perhaps Une Fleur de Cassie is an exception. I´m really curious about the tuberose scent, I hope it´ll be a creamy one 🙂 August 1, 2005 at 11:05am Reply

  • Laura: I protest! Another tuberose fragrance?? Don’t we have enough of those already?? I agree with N above–I find the FM fragrances forgettable. Even though they are made by different noses, none is excellent. Curious phenomenon. August 1, 2005 at 8:23am Reply

  • Victoria: Felicia, I adore tuberose, and another fragrance sounds great! I think that Ropion does big lush florals well, i.e. Givenchy Amarige. I would suspect that the fragrance will have the same softness as others in the line, meaning that it will not hit you over the head with the big sharp notes. Well, we shall certainly see.

    Neela, I recently tried L’eau d’Hiver (after you mentioned it elsewhere), and I fell in love with it. You were right about its quiet softness, hiding a lovely violet note. It is definitely one of the favourites from the line. Of course, it resembles another great love of mine–Après l’Ondée.

    Laura, there are not that many well done tuberose fragrances, therefore I am excited. However, I promise not to wear it around you, my pesky tuberose hater! 🙂 As Felicia said, a line seems incomplete without one.

    xoxo August 1, 2005 at 9:33am Reply

  • Tania: Unlike L, I actually do admire much of the work in this line, but I don’t find any of them right for everyday wear, except for Bigarade (which I am wearing today). For example, I finally tried Une Rose and found it terrifically perverse, and yet I never really feel like wearing it out. Even En Passant, as soft as it is, feels so idiosyncratic that it wears me more than I wear it. In fact, each of the scents in this line sort of feels like I am wearing someone else’s custom fragrance—as if each is perfectly attuned to the tastes of a particular person, who does not happen to be me. August 1, 2005 at 10:26am Reply

  • Victoria: T, I find that these fragrances are indeed very personal, and that they have a rather modern spirit, which is why associations with modern art comes to mind right away. None of them are Titian or Rubens, but many are Mondrian. When I first tried them, it was this fact that made me question their creative value, however the more I explore the line, the more I understand what they are about–personality that created it, the current of inspiration that can only be understood if one knows something about the creator. I often felt the same way about art. Knowing what inspired the perfumer, what that artist is like makes me understand better the nature of their art works. I admire the compositions of nearly all of them, despite the fact that I wear only a few on daily basis. August 1, 2005 at 10:35am Reply

  • Victoria: C, I agree–I would describe many fragrances in the line as introspective, despite the fact that they are very different in nature. I often rotate my fragrances and sometimes I discover that I crave something very specific. Actually, today I woke up thinking that I should wear Lipstick Rose, and I did just that! 😉 August 1, 2005 at 11:24am Reply

  • michelle: Even the ones I don’t love – L’eau d’Hiver and Le Parfum de Therese – I respect. The ones I love – especially Iris Poudre (which feels as though it was made especially for me), Une Fleur de Cassie and Lys Mediterranee – feel elegant and classic to me. Someone used the word “intimate” to describe them – I think that’s a good word. These scents do stir emotions and you can feel a connection or relationship to them. They’re more personal than many others. Can’t wait to try the rest of the line, and look forward to another creation by the maker of the gorgeous Iris Poudre. August 1, 2005 at 4:17pm Reply

  • julien: Mmmm…how i love these scents!:)
    By the way they are nor that easy to wear…
    To my tastes,i am still searching for the one i could love forever from MALLE’s boutique.

    I love Musc ravageur,maybe the most beautiful musc i have smelled,it just smells like a sublimated skin,with a velvet and sensual amber/sugar note on you…

    L’eau d’Hiver is sweet,gentle,yet warm and romantic.
    In france we say it is a “doudou fragance” which means a scent so comfortable to wear and delicate that it reminds us the little things children love to embrace to feel protected when they sleep(like a mother’s clothe,something like that).

    The rose is powerful,pure and majestic in its way to be a “ground rose” with an aroma of wine and Truffe.
    The only rose i think could perfectly suit a man.

    Iris Poudré is a kind of chanel Numéro 5 with an oriental background.
    Elegant,sophisticated…the aldéhydes are not disturbing.Also a good way to call it an aldéhyde fragance or the chanel N°5 for Men.

    Noirs épices is very spiced fragance…reminds me of coco with the indecence of spices from POIVRE of CARON.

    Then,i don’t know enough the others fragances to talk about them.

    Let me know what you think about my descriptions,i can’t wait reading your comments on them,your vision is always an inspiration for me,dear Victoria.

    And of course,as always,thanks for your post.
    Malle really deserved it,you made it so wonderfully.

    Kisse Dear,
    Julien. August 1, 2005 at 6:51pm Reply

  • Victoria: I suppose that this intimate aspect is what appeals to me the most. I think that you pinpointed this really well–there is a connection that I also feel to these scents. It is fascinating to see what the perfumer him/herself finds appealing, when the usual limitations are removed. The concept of the auteur perfumery is definitely interesting and quite refreshing. August 1, 2005 at 4:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: J, thank you for these wonderful descriptions. I love that you describe Iris Poudré as Chanel No.5 with an oriental background, which is also the way I think about it. The top notes of aldehydes meld into a floral heart in a way that does recall No. 5. It is one of my favourites. I will post other reviews over the course of the week, and as always, it is great to hear your thoughts.
    xoxo August 1, 2005 at 7:56pm Reply

  • julien: i guess we share many tastes together.
    Iris Poudré is my favorite one from MALLE.
    Let’s see your post about it.
    J. August 2, 2005 at 3:42am Reply

  • Campaspe: Felicia – I am probably the only one as excited as you are about the Tubereuse! And I’m excited that it’s Ropion, too. I *adored* Cassie but it makes me sneeze. So unfair, it’s the best of the line IMHO. August 4, 2005 at 12:13pm Reply

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