“It isn’t finished until it’s finished,” said Frédéric Malle in regards to his artisanal scents and the perfumers who have the freedom to make them. And like his unique fragrances, Malle’s new stand-alone boutiques in London and Rome have a similar focus.
“The timing with the stores are a bit like the fragrances,” he noted while sipping on a coke at Freds in Barneys New York. “It’s about the hunt.”
The hunt brought him to London’s Burlington Arcade. At the end of July, Malle will unveil his first boutique in the U.K. This new store features a table made from one solid piece of marble, which is inspired by a visual effect similar to Stanley Kubrick’s monolith in the film “A Space Odyssey.”
“Martin Szekely [the table’s designer] and I sat in front of the [boutique’s] door for two hours looking at this place intensively and at the end, he said why don’t you design something very simple and I’ll do a central object, which will be very disruptive,” said Malle of the solid piece of marble.
To anchor the store in London, Malle created a low bookcase that is a modern interpretation of shelving units that can be found in historical English houses.
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Meanwhile, the boutique has trademark Malle features — the portraits on the wall of the perfumers he has worked with and smelling chambers in the back for customers to try out scents.
“Since [I opened my first store], I’m trying to be a good host,” he said. “I’m trying to greet each person as if they are a guest in my apartment.”
Keeping true to his vision, Malle opened his debut outpost in Rome on June 11, a place that is very personal to him. The two-room boutique features elements that consumers can find in his own New York apartment such as the pink curtains by Le Manach, the green carpet by Madeleine Castaing in his drawing room and the dark walls in his dining area.
Not present in his apartment, Malle had California designer Juniper Tedhams create giant bookshelves to display the fragrances specifically for the space.
“We are trying to make each store very different,” said Malle, noting that more is yet to come. Referring to the recent sale of his company to Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., he added, “we worked with the Lauders on a business plan for the next few years and we want to have stores everywhere in the world.”
Malle noted that he is starting with places that are most familiar to him in Europe and in different parts of the U.S.
“All of the stores have one thing in common,” said Malle, “which is to try to create places where time stops. Basically you walk out of your everyday rush and you can concentrate on yourself. It’s one of those rare moments where you’re allowed to be completely self-centered.”