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Frederic Malle’s Take on Tuberose

Carnal Flower, the newest scent from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, features a classic source of inspiration in a way that it has never been experienced before, according to the company.

NEW YORK — Carnal Flower, the newest scent from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, features a classic source of inspiration — tuberose — in a way that it has never been experienced before, according to the company.

“Every single person making a tuberose fragrance is trying to knock off the classic, which is Fracas,” said head perfumer Frederic Malle. “I had an idea to create a fragrance that’s very close to natural tuberose.”

Malle describes the classic Fracas by Robert Piguet scent, created by perfumer Germaine Cellier in 1948, as “slightly mature and femme fatale.” In contrast, he envisioned a version of the tuberose genre that “is very fresh and true to nature.”

To create such a scent, Malle enlisted the talents of perfumer Dominique Ropion, who had come across a form of purified natural tuberose exclusive to the supplier International Flavors and Fragrances. This purified form, according to the company, is extremely close to the “odor of living tuberose.” Launching in December, Carnal Flower took about two years to create, according to Malle, and features more natural tuberose absolute than any other fragrance on the market. Price points range from $155 for a 50-ml. spray to $230 for a 100-ml. spray.

The unique aroma of the tuberose flower had long been a source of inspiration to Malle, he explained. “I’ve always been interested in doing a tuberose fragrance — it’s like a sexy flower scent,” he said. “The other flower scents, roses, peonies, etc., are pretty, but they smell like flowers. They don’t smell like skin at all — they don’t have that warm, carnal aspect.”

Carnal Flower features top notes of bergamot, melon and eucalyptus, middle notes of ylang-ylang and jasmine and a drydown of white musk cocktail, coconut, orange blossom absolute and tuberose absolute DM. “I see it as having a few layers cohabiting at the same time,” said Malle. “It’s like a musician editing a piece — we put some of the elements up and some of the elements down to turn it into a wearable perfume.”

While Malle would not comment on sales figures, industry sources expect the scent to bring in up to $150,000 in retail sales in its first year (sources speculate the company does about $1 million in sales). And while Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is currently sold exclusively through Barneys New York in the U.S., Malle said that he plans on opening freestanding stores Stateside for the brand in the next couple of years. He also plans three new stores in Paris by the end of this year.

This story first appeared in the September 30, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Barneys has been a very happy marriage and we’ve decided to stay true to each other for a very long time,” he said. “But by the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007, it’s very likely that we will open a shop in New York.”