frederic malle: 24 posts

Carnal Flowers

No fragrance type elicits more polarized reactions than white flowers. For some, they’re the ultimate love potion. For others–a bottled nightmare. I realize that the term “white flowers” covers too many botanicals to be useful, but let’s pretend we’re talking about night-blooming plants like jasmine, gardenia and tuberose. Jasmine can smell like horse sweat. Gardenia has a distinct whiff of mushrooms. But at least jasmine and gardenia can be tamed and made pretty and gentle. Tuberose, on the other hand, doesn’t do demure well and it also stands no competition. Add a touch of tuberose to a perfume, and it takes over everything with its warmth and luxurious heft. It’s perfect for those of us tired of wan floral perfumes that smell as if they need to be on life support.

My favorite tuberose is Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower. It’s been around since 2005, and I’ve rhapsodized about it for about that long. It thrills me with the richness of the sensations it evokes, from the brightness of green notes to the warmth of the tuberose petals. But that’s not why I selected it for my modern classics series, On White Flowers. Over the past decade it has become one of the gold standard tuberose fragrances against which others are judged. Love it or hate it, but it’s a modern classic.

Continue reading →

Perfumes To Smell, Books To Read : Autumnal Lists

This time of year makes me prone to bouts of melancholy. I don’t like to bid goodbye to summer vacation, August peaches and picnics in the park. Since my school recollections are filled with the institutional smells of many children in confined spaces, burned milk, wet chalk and blackboards cleaned with a musty rag, I can’t get excited about the whole “back to school” thing either. My memory refuses to budge from this Dickensian vision even when prompted by the delicious smells of sharpened pencils and ink; I hated school until I started college.  I get out of my funk once the fall gets further under way and I notice the walnut sweetness of fallen leaves in the morning air and become grateful for any rose still blooming along Brussels’ chestnut lined avenues. But in the meantime, I just make the best of the transition and come up with lists.

brussels-fall1

Lists are somewhat of an obsession. I’ve been an inveterate list maker since my childhood. My mom treasures a compilation of “books I am going to write” that I came up with at the age of 12. They include “The History of India,” “The History of Greece” and “Constantinople, Jewel of the Byzantine Empire.” (Why on earth did I study political science at the university and not history, I now wonder.) I’m less ambitious these days and instead I just make lists of dishes to cook, places to explore in Brussels, perfumes to try or books to read.

Continue reading →

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady : Perfume Review

44444

The news of Frédéric Malle selling his Editions de Parfums house to Estée Lauder reminded me that I haven’t gotten around to writing about one of the most intriguing fragrances from his collection, Portrait of a Lady. Why intriguing? Well, consider the name. If it brings to your mind the cool elegance of Henry James’s heroines, then you’re not alone. I also expected something along these lines–ultra refined, sophisticated and feminine. Except that it is all wrong. Portrait of a Lady is interesting precisely because the scent is not at all what you expect. It’s a twist on a Middle Eastern theme, and it’s not all that lady-like.

Picasso-Boy-with-Pipe

If you’ve already smelled traditional Middle Eastern perfumes or western blends inspired by them (Amouage, Kilian’s oudsArmani Privé Rose d’Arabie), then you might recognize similar elements in Portrait of a Lady. It has a generous dose of classical “oriental” notes–sandalwood, amber, patchouli, dark woods smoked over incense, and of course, rose. It has a similar dramatic and mysterious character that makes this perfume genre so distinctive.

Continue reading →

Frederic Malle Eau de Magnolia : Perfume Review

44444

Intended or not, Frédéric Malle Eau de Magnolia is an answer to two challenges: creating a novel cologne and capturing the elusive aroma of magnolia. The first is complicated, because cologne is one of the most popular genres, and recasting it in a new way requires some creativity. The second is due to the magnolia’s character. The scent blends citrus, rose and soft leather, but the main impression you get from smelling the waxy white petals is not of heady, lush perfume, but of exhilarating freshness and fizz. You can almost feel the champagne bubbles bursting before you notice all other facets.

magnolia

Translating this sparkling effect into fragrance is more complicated than it seems in our age of high-tech tools. I smelled through a fair share of magnolia accords at one point to conclude that 90% of them smell either like furniture polish or bear no relation at all to magnolia. Which is why Eau de Magnolia comes as a surprise. It captures the nuances of magnolia, while setting them into a frame of citrus and moss. It makes for a beautiful arrangement.

Continue reading →

Frederic Malle Eau de Magnolia : New Perfume

A new fragrance will join Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle in June 2014.  Eau de Magnolia was created by perfumer Carlos Benaïm and is described as a fresh chypre perfume. It is based on a study of magnolia’s aroma by IFF scientist Braja Mookherjee. When analyzing the components that give magnolia its unique fragrance, Benaïm found that it resembled a citrus cologne. Therefore, he composed Eau de Magnolia for both men and women, taking the zesty freshness of the flower as his starting point.

eau-de-magnolia

Eau de Magnolia Eau de Parfum includes notes of bergamot, magnolia headspace, vetiver, patchouli, cedarwood, amber, and tree moss. This is Benaïm’s first perfume for the house, but he has already left his fingerprint on the Fleurs Mécaniques collection of home fragrances: Saint des Saints, Rosa Rugosa, Rubrum Lily, Cafe Society and the magnolia based Jurassic Flower.

Eau de Magnolia will be available in June at Frédéric Malle’s boutiques and department store counters. 10 ml/$125, 50 ml/ $175, 100 ml/$225. Via press release

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2017 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.