Frédéric Malle, who is famous for showcasing the art of perfumery through visible collaborations with perfumers, has added a third player in his scent making. “It’s not a duet between the perfumer and myself [as in his previous Editions de Parfums fragrances], it’s literally a ménage à trois,” he noted.
This story first appeared in the February 1, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Malle has embarked on what he describes as series of fragrance portraits of highly creative, interesting people, from fields such as fashion, photography, the arts and film. The first of these olfactive renderings will be of Dries Van Noten.
The fragrance, which will be launched in most markets on Feb. 15, and in April for the U.S., is called Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle. The fragrances that will follow with different individuals will be similarly named.
“It’s the beginning of a new collection,” said Malle, who pioneered the artisanal fragrance movement when he launched his company in 2000 with the declaration, “there is a market for real perfumery.
“I felt for many reasons — partly personal and partly market reasons — that it would be nice to introduce a third person between perfumers and myself,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t have to be a gallery of fashion people and it won’t be a gallery of fashion people — it could be people from Hollywood, any interesting people that want to have a scent made around them but are not looking for a big paycheck. It’s a gallery of portraits. It’s a perfumer and myself trying to accomplish something which matches the exact rendition of a person of interest.”
In his previous phase with Editions de Parfums, Malle said his job was to “push perfumers to go as far as possible in accomplishing their own ideas. My job in this particular collection is to be a translator.”
Van Noten admitted being “surprised how complicated [perfume creation] was,” needing assistance in getting started with the perfumery and getting the balance of notes right. But it came out right in the end. “It was really like a portrait,” he said. “It is a portrait of my vision of fashion. There are a lot of elements which are there. There’s a lot of tradition in it but there’s something also surprising, which I hope I evoke the same emotions with my clothes.” He added, “For me, it was a very interesting experience. I really liked it.”
Like the creation of the scent, this will be a handmade business with a global distribution of specialty stores numbering less than 100. Although Malle would not discuss figures, the sales volume is expected to be equally intimate, at perhaps $5 million in global retail sales. The scent, described as a modern oriental, will be pricy, $185 for 50 ml. and $265 for 100 ml.
The perfumer, Bruno Jovanovic of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc., noted that what was unusual was the three-way conversation between very different people. “It [was] a collaboration between a fashion designer, an olfactive designer and a perfumer,” Jovanovic said. His initial concept was to deconstruct sandalwood to feature a facet, which he described as “soft, sweet, creamy and milky.” Saffron was added, as were vanilla, jasmine and a powerful accord comprised of three different musks. “It smells very rich,” the perfumer said.