Catherine Deneuve on Her Favorite Perfume and Other Fragrance Topics


One of the best interviews I have read recently was posted on French blog Simon~says! (link no longer active.) François Simon, a food writer, talks with Catherine Deneuve in his article, Rencontre Avec Catherine Deneuve, about a dizzying range of perfume topics—her first perfume, her role as a fragrance muse, her favorite perfumes on men, the strange scents that she enjoys, etc. The original interview is in French, which I highly recommend reading. For those who do not speak French, I will post a few interesting excerpts. To round out the topic, I will also include mentions of Deneuve’s other scented references from her previous interviews. The legendary movie star is an avid perfume lover, and she even wrote a preface to Frédéric Malle’s new book, On Perfume Making.

Frédéric Malle Noir Epices

Deneuve mentions that she selected Noir Epices by Michel Roudnitska for the role of Princess Marie Bonaparte in the mini-series Princesse Marie (2004.) Noir Epices was a perfect way to slip into the character of a strong, bold, audacious woman.

Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose

The actress mentions that she loves Frédéric Malle’s fragrances and regrets that he does not release more perfumes. She selected Lipstick Rose by perfumer Ralf Schwieger for her role in Christophe Honoré’s film Les Bien-Aimés (Beloved).

Frédéric Malle Iris Poudré

She was told that Iris Poudré was inspired by Belle de Jour. She loves this creation by perfumer Pierre Bourdon and Frédéric Malle.

Chanel No 5

Deneuve was the face of Chanel No 5 in a campaign for the American market. Working with photographer Richard Avedon was one of the highlights of this project for her.

Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire for Her

This spicy rose and patchouli blend originated as a bespoke perfume for the actress. According to Marc Chaya, president and co-founder of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris, when Maison Francis Kurkdjian was founded, Deneuve and the perfumer agreed to include it in the line.

Fresh Rose Menthée

In an interview with the UK Times Online, the movie star mentions that she “always sprays her pillows with nice scent. Her favourites are Rose Menthée by Fresh, anything by Jo Malone, Frédéric Malle…”

On Seasonal Perfumes

She loves to change her perfume with each season: musk in her hair during the summer, amber in the fall, jasmine and gardenia in the spring…

On Some of Her Favorite Notes

Jasmine and gardenia are among her favorite scents; however, she insists that they must be of great quality, otherwise the results are catastrophic. They must be impeccable, otherwise they are too heady.

She also loves orange blossom and enjoys Serge Lutens’s take on it. Another orange blossom composition she singles out is Frédéric Malle Cologne Bigarade created by perfumer Jean Claude Ellena.

Scents of Paris

Lily of the valley and rose are the quintessential Parisian scents for Deneuve.

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

Her first perfume, her longest fragrant love affair.

Annick Goutal Sables

When speaking about certain unusual odors that she loves, Deneuve talks about the scent of helichrysum. In the summer, she loves to wear Sables, which smells like the sun.

Serge Lutens Fragrances

“I also love the perfumes of Serge Lutens. He is also an artist.” In several interviews she mentioned that she loves Ambre Sultan, Un Lys, and Rose de Nuit.

Diptyque Candles and L’Ombre das l’Eau

Deneuve likes to buy candles at Dyptique and some of its fragrances, like l’Ombre dans l’Eau, for her friends. The eaux de toilette are very chic, but for her, Diptyque is associated with its exceptional candles such as Feu de Bois, Mousses (Moss)

Oud Scents

She loves the scent of oud, which she experiences on her trips to Morocco. However, she herself cannot wear it.

How She Likes to Perfume Herself

Deneuve’s famous quote is “You should put scent where you like to be kissed.” She mentions that she usually puts perfume behind the knees and on her neck. However, she does not like to perfume her clothes, because the fragrance remains on them for too long.

On Her Perfume Deneuve (1989)

It was a fragrance created by Avon; however, when the company was sold, Deneuve was dropped. It cost too much. The fragrance was of excellent quality, but there was a technical problem with the bottle due to its low, rectangular shape. The actress believes that it would not work today, with the possible exception of the United States. If it were proposed to her to launch a fragrance, she would be pleased, but she would not want it to bear her name.  It resonates with what Deneuve told Elle Magazine in 1994,  “I’ve liked working for this fragrance. But today I don’t feel it. Actors and perfume is an impossible match.

As the actress said on Larry King Live, “I was given the possibility to do my perfume in America. And I had a great pleasure to do that. I loved it. And I learn a lot of interesting things, you know, doing that. I got very involved with that.”

Christian Dior Eau Sauvage

“I once loved a man who wore Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior. I cannot tolerate it on anyone else.”



  • Alexandra: I think Sacrebleu is also one of her favourite perfumes… December 13, 2011 at 8:18am Reply

  • Alexandra: yes, she is really into perfumes, and the art of seduction through them! Thank you Victoria for sharing! December 13, 2011 at 8:26am Reply

  • civava: I wish all celebrities thought that way. December 13, 2011 at 8:56am Reply

  • Alexandra: it’s a funny thing, but I can relate to her much more through her perfume choices than her films- that I love; those common favourite fragrances represent the common parts in our personalities. December 13, 2011 at 9:48am Reply

  • Yulya: Ah, what a pleasure! A beautiful, clever and talented woman. She is everything! I would love to follow her tastes in fragrances but somehow these are not mine… Alas! December 13, 2011 at 10:21am Reply

  • Nikki: Lovely! There is a website in French Tout sur Deneuve where details about her perfume choices are described. There was an Iris by Different Company and she also wears several YSL fragrances: Paris and Yvresse, formerly Champagne which she wears in fall. Thank you for posting this, so interesting! December 13, 2011 at 10:33am Reply

  • Carla: How interesting! Lumiere noire is an all-season favorite of mine. December 13, 2011 at 11:29am Reply

  • Martyn: I can absolutely agree with her on the Diptyque room fragrances. We first bought Feu de Bois for the sitting room, because it so closely emulated the smell of logs burning in a fireplace and made the room feel snug even in summertime. Later we bought Figue for the upstairs part of the house, to take us back in memory to walks along the Adriatic coast, when the afternoon sun would drive us to seek shade beneath fig trees. December 13, 2011 at 7:09am Reply

  • Victoria: I love your descriptions, Martyn! Feu de Bois is fantastic! Its scent makes any room feel cozy and warm. December 13, 2011 at 8:19am Reply

  • Victoria: I read that too, but I could not find an actual interview that referenced it, so I did not include it.

    If she wears all of the fragrances she professes to love, then she must have quite a collection! December 13, 2011 at 8:20am Reply

  • Dain: Wow, she’s one of us! December 13, 2011 at 8:59am Reply

  • Victoria: So do I! Smelling all of those bland celebrity scents makes me wish so even more. December 13, 2011 at 9:02am Reply

  • Victoria: She really is! The way she talks about fragrance is so poetic and interesting. I loved how she described the scent of Paris metro as that of carnations, iron and immortelle. December 13, 2011 at 9:04am Reply

  • Victoria: My pleasure! I always love reading about Deneuve, she is such a fascinating person. December 13, 2011 at 9:04am Reply

  • Austenfan: I read this interview through a link on Octavian’s blog. It’s such an interesting read. I also love seeing photo’s of her and her daughter together. Each in her own way so stunningly good looking! December 13, 2011 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Victoria: She also says in her interview that someone's choice of fragrance says so much about them. I also can relate to her better through her perfumes. December 13, 2011 at 1:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: I also enjoy it, it is one of my favorites from the collection. December 13, 2011 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: Gosh, she truly is a perfumista! December 13, 2011 at 1:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love that she is passionate about it. I've never read such a scent focused interview with another star. December 13, 2011 at 1:26pm Reply

  • minette: she and i could be scent twins! and francis kurkdjian must have laughed silently to himself when i told him that i felt he’d created lumiere noire just for me! it’s that good! and feels that personal! so fun to know it was her bespoke scent! thanks for the tidbits. fun stuff! will go read the french in a bit. thanks! December 13, 2011 at 7:46pm Reply

  • Sables is an unexpected choice but not really. Deneuve is an unexpected woman. December 13, 2011 at 3:11pm Reply

  • Joan: She is so beautiful. December 13, 2011 at 3:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: She is! Her taste is so eclectic. December 13, 2011 at 10:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: I just watched La Chamade, and she is so beautiful in it. December 13, 2011 at 10:36pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love seeing them together. Have you watched Beloved? They are both starring in it. December 13, 2011 at 10:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: Wow, what a nice story!
    I am glad that you enjoyed it. I never get tired of reading about Deneuve. December 13, 2011 at 10:38pm Reply

  • minette: he’s a very sweet man, and was easy to talk with during his appearance here. as lovely as lumiere noire is on my skin, his orange blossom scent for men (the name escapes me) is horrible! you should have seen his face when he put his nose to my arm with that one! i’d wanted to try it because i usually like men’s scents on me – but oh, no, not this one! his reaction was so honest, it made me like him even more! December 14, 2011 at 7:39pm Reply

  • Cathleen56: What a tease she is! I’m dying to know which jasmine and gardenia perfumes she liked,vs. which she thought were “catastrophic.” December 14, 2011 at 11:29pm Reply

  • Nikki: Just received Lumiere Noire which I bought because of the article and it is really good. Lovely perfume! I am happy I got it. December 21, 2011 at 12:39pm Reply

  • dixieh: Somebody call her, PLEASE, and tell her that American women are interested in “Deneuve”, her signature fragrance that was first put out by Avon in the 1980’s. Tell her we have searched the cities of the world for any partially filled bottle. If I hit the lottery, I will call her up and say, sell me the rights; the perfume is worth trillions or quadrillions!!!
    There is no perfume in the world like Deneuve! I’ll put my name on it any day! October 22, 2014 at 4:13pm Reply

    • Sharon: I couldn’t agree more. I continue to search the globe for Deneuve. It’s hands down the most elegant fragrance. I would give anything to have the notes that make up this heavenly fragrance. Please Please reconsider a re-release of this perfume. There are countless women in America and abroad that would wear this fragrance. I actually covet the tiny amount that I have left. April 11, 2016 at 11:10am Reply

    • Susan: Well. Here we are, 9 years after the original post and I want to add my name to the group who are PLEADING for “Deneuve” to be re-released. I am now 70 years old, and wore it in my late 30s. I have never found ANYTHING I love half as much as Deneuve. If I had known it would vanish, I would have purchased as much eau de parfum as possible. Sadly, I am left with an eau de toilette that has only faint (stale) traces of the beauty that was “Deneuve”. I had actually heard that part of the reason it failed in the US was that it was marketed in a similar style to the low-scale fragrance, “Charlie” – as if it was for some free-spirited, spunky, semi-career woman. We all know it is devastatingly feminine, warm, deep and evocative. One question I do have: is there anything like it in the current market? September 3, 2020 at 1:58am Reply

      • Christia: I recently ordered two small samples of the original Deneuve perfume as I was desperately curious to smell it. To my nose, it smells quite like Ysatis by Givenchy. Referencing the notes for both, you will find they contain many of the same notes. November 8, 2020 at 1:19pm Reply

  • iris&gilles: I do quite understand when she says she can’t stand a perfume on someone else when she smelt it on a lover skin before !
    I do too ! February 26, 2016 at 8:51am Reply

  • Donna Ross: I have never found a perfume that could compare with Deneuve. I would love to be able to buy it again! April 18, 2016 at 3:50pm Reply

  • carole: hello…
    i was reading about deneuve and her love affair with parfum… and you mentioned one of her famous quotes as being … you should put scent where you like to be kissed… but i was wondering perhaps was that not coco chanel who said that…
    fondly… carole… September 22, 2016 at 9:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps, that’s who said it first and she’s just repeating it. September 24, 2016 at 7:23am Reply

  • rodica: deneuve was Yves St Laurent “s friend and muse.
    Surprisingly enough she does not mention any of his perfumes. Opium suits her in my opinion: mysterious , rich , unique and long lasting.
    But like so many other people her , i would love to be able to purchase Deneuve perfume once more. March 14, 2021 at 5:01pm Reply

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