Dries van Noten is a belgian fashion designer described aptly by the New York Times as “one of fashion’s most cerebral designers”. Frédéric Malle is a fragrant curator who collects perfumers, allows them to take centre stage and gives them the creative freedom they need to shine.
Although both men come from different worlds they share a thirst for innovation and appreciation of beauty in all forms so it is no surprise that these two creative forces would collide. Their collaborative efforts have seen the birth of a truly new fragrance, one that positively shows that when done right there is nothing better than when perfume meets fashion.
The fragrance they have created with perfume Bruno Jovanovic is the first in Malle’s new line of fragrances; ‘by Frédéric Malle’. Intended as an “olfactory portrait of the world of Dries van Noten”, the fragrance captures the essence of erudite fashion in a high-art manner whilst feeling distinctly ready-to-wear.
“A perfume built around natural sandalwood, chosen for its softness and its character, and the fact that it is simultaneously exotic and evocative of the tradition of great classic perfumes. This very short formula made of very precious materials, generates a sober but distinct sensuality. It is, in my eyes, a fair parallel to Dries van Noten’s world.”
– Frédéric Malle
Top: Lemon and Bergamot
Heart: Jasmine Absolute, Musk Accord, Saffron and Patchouli
Base: Santal Mysore, Vanilla, Ethyl Maltol, Sacrasol (Sulfurol) and Peruvian Balm
How Does it Smell?
When describing perfume we often speak of texture – how a fragrance or accord feels ‘smooth’ or ‘rough’ and how it can be compared to fabric or materials. Dries van Noten par Frédéric Malle is interesting as it brings an entirely new texture to the table, one that feels as contemporary and innovative as Van Noten’s fashion.
In cuisine this unusual texture would present itself as a saffron pana cotta – golden, spongy and delicate; and in fashion it would show itself as a super-pliable gauze – transparent and auburn in colour. As a perfume, Dries van Noten captures the essence of both gastronomy and couture in a texture that is soft, supple and gel-like all at once.
Dries van Noten is light and bubbly in the top notes with a trickle of ever-so slightly fizzy lemon and bergamot. These delicately effervescent notes are quickly paired with a warm wave of golden saffron milk that perfectly underpins the airier notes, bringing them down to earth.
Although Dries van Noten is hard to classify, flitting between a number of categories throughout its development, it reveals itself fully as a delicate, fluffy demi-gourmand in the heart with a translucent sandalwood-jasmine accord that is reminiscent of delicate biscuits sprinkled with brown sugar.
Shapeshifting again as it heads towards the base, Dries van Noten reveals more of its woody facets, pairing creamy sandalwood with equally velvety vanilla in a subdued and wispy manner. A lightly textured musk rounds the dry down off nicely, leaving only mere hints of the golden brown scent on the skin.
Dries van Noten really is something very special. It feels entirely new and contemporary when compared to other recent launches from luxury brands, including Malle’s very own Editions de Parfums line. This is subtlety at its absolute finest, a perfume that invites one to smell closer and deeper, luring one in to a delicate, warm and comforting embrace.
Dries van Noten par Frédéric Malle is available in 50ml (£115) and 100ml (£160) Eau de Parfum.
Image 1 via thewomensroomblog.com. Image 2 via thewindow.barneys.com. Notes via Basenotes.net. Quotes via fredericmalle.com.