MILAN — Hospitality is the essence of the new Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle store inaugurated here on Thursday. Located in central Via Verri, in the city’s tony fashion district leading to Via Monte Napoleone, this is the first freestanding store of the artisanal fragrance brand in Milan, and the second in Italy, after Rome.
“When I make a store I always think, ‘how would my apartment look like if I had a place here?’” said Parisian parfumeur Frédéric Malle, introducing the concept of the unit. In this case in particular, he eventually opted for a total-white approach to enhance the existing architecture of the 431-square-foot space, distributed on two floors.
As per the company’s other stores in Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles, Malle conceived a different, specific interior concept for the Milanese unit, one that he has been curated himself. “Sometimes I work with big architects…but sometimes I do things on my own like I do my own place. This one is homemade,” he said.
The operation resulted in the introduction of personal, homey elements, as a replica of a white sofa he has in his apartment in New York, in addition to favorite art and design pieces, as minimal metal sculptures by Donald Judd and Mies van der Rohe chairs. Metal shelves display the fragrances of the house, which are also stored in a lab refrigerator. Adding to the modern touch, a rounded, transparent booth allows clients to test and smell the aura of each perfume through a patented system.
You May Also Like
“The way that it has been organized is really to receive people and have time stopped, so that they can concentrate and celebrate the perfumes themselves,” Malle said. According to the parfumeur, the goal is not to sell the latest releases or best sellers, but to enable customers to find the scent that suits them and decide how they are “going to smell in the next 20 years, so [they] need a little bit of quiet when doing that.”
Made “for Milanese [people], first and foremost,” the space further mirrors the city’s signature inclination for subtle beauty and intimacy on the upper floor, where the brand’s candles and home line are showcased in a more private settle, dominated by modernist designer Marcel Breuer’s Wassily armchairs.
Moving far from Italy, where Malle said there’s no project to open other stores at the moment, Dubai will be next up in the company’s retail expansion. Although a date for the opening was not revealed, Malle said to have designed the concept of the unit.
“I love making these stores so whenever there’s a new opportunity I sort of jump on it and design a new apartment for myself,” he said, mentioning that he will continue developing specific visuals per location.
“To be honest, I have always wondered why luxury should be like McDonald’s,” he said referring to companies applying the same interior concept to all sale points. “I think luxury is all about being personal and sometimes tailor-made, which doesn’t work for perfumes but we have a tailor-made approach to our visitors and to our boutiques.”
Product-wise, several collaborations are in the pipeline, in addition to a product developed with the ‘nose’ Dominique Ropion. “I’m working with two major artists at the moment, it’s a very secretive thing but it’s exciting,” Malle revealed, also mentioning “a fashion house” as a third project. The first result of these efforts will be launched in fall 2018. Previously, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle launched fragrances with Alber Elbaz, Dries Van Noten and Pierre Hardy.
Simultaneously, Malle is working with young perfumers. Seen by many as the godfather of the current artisanal fragrance movement, Malle established his company in 2000 engaging the world’s best ‘noses’ to compose creative scents. Now he started to involve a new generation, “kids that are like 28 years old now, that have been out of perfumery school and with a little experience, and who have grown up [looking up to] Serge Lutens, myself and the classics.” Praising their “different view on perfumery,” Malle also stressed on the responsibility these collaborations are giving to him in forming emerging “noses.”
Asked about the fast-growing niche fragrance market, Malle sounded positive regarding the current increasing demand from customers, interest from big companies and the emerging competition.
“[When I started the company] I was a little bit shy, I didn’t know how far it could go and I didn’t want people to think that I was completely crazy,” he said. “This new competition has created a little bit higher expectation and this allows us to go even further. It’s really sort of helping and pushing [us] to be even more ourselves, so it’s fun,” Malle concluded.
Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle was acquired by Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. at the end of 2014.