Newsflash, Perfume Lovers! Frederic Malle is coming to London for a meet and greet at Selfridges on Oxford Street on Thursday 17 November 2016. Being at the helm of one of perfumery’s greatest brands, Frederic Malle is quite the scented celebrity and he’ll be in Selfridges greeting customers and signing bottles of fragrance from his line. It’s an opportunity not to be missed!
In the UK we’re all walking around in a daze. The sun is out, it’s warm and there hasn’t been any rain in at least 48 hours. People are whispering to each other; “could it be?”, they ask; “I’m not sure”, they say. The ‘s’ word is on everybody’s lips but no-one dare say it. Could it really be summer? Maybe. The sun is out and the temperature is rising, but we did have rain, snow and hail last week, so perhaps we should wait before cracking out the shorts and sunscreen. I’m not ready to call it quite yet, folks, but I have an inkling that ‘s’ may be on its way…
For me, the summer season mean one thing: cologne. There is nothing better on a hot day than a generous spritz of a refreshing eau de cologne, except a water fight perhaps, but those are harder to come by in one’s old age. As far as colognes go, there is no beating Cologne Indélébile, the everlasting cyber-cologne created by perfumer Dominique Ropion for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. Cologne Indélébile squeezes lemons the size of the sun into its bottle, boasting metallic freshness, hay-like neroli and a whirlwind of technical musks to keep it going up & up, and on & on. It’s a marvel of perfumery and now there’s a new way to make it last even longer.
This summer Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle are launching an accompanying Body Wash and Body Milk to the Cologne Indélébile, promoting the idea that to make your cologne truly everlasting, it’s best to layer up! So before spritzing on twenty sprays of Cologne Indélébile (something I am often guilty of), one can lather up in a deluge of delicately soft bubbles scented with Malle’s neo-cologne, before then smoothing on a moisturising layer of the Body Milk and then finally, spraying on the fragrance to finish. By building layers of the scent on the skin, one can dial back on the sprayer a bit so that Cologne Indélébile really can last longer than the average British summer.
“Monsieur., your chest rug is peeking through your shirt.”
“Monsieur., would you like the bear skin rug dry cleaned before you lie seductively upon it?”
“Monsieur., the 1970s called and they would like their headshop back.”
“Monsieur., is that an afro comb in the pocket of your flares or are you just pleased to see me?”
These were my initial thoughts when smelling ‘Monsieur.‘ the latest release from Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. As you may be able to tell, it’s somewhat of a retro macho bomb and style wise, it certainly comes across as somewhat of a departure from Malle’s ultra-modern aesthetic. That said, I find it to be fabulously retro, which is to say that it celebrates a moment in time and a certain type of machismo that is utterly classic: that of the hairy chested, suave yet roguish animal of a man, or in this case a slightly older man. Wait, is Monsieur. a DILF?!
Monsieur is the second outing at Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle for perfumer Bruno Jovanovic, the man behind the delightfully subversive Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle and designer scents such as Calvin Klein Reveal. With Monsieur., Jovanovic tackles patchouli, a staple ingredient within the world of perfumery that has made many a fragrance a classic. The thing with patchouli though, is the fact that it feels a bit old fashioned. It’s still used in perfumery today, of course, but most examples of the note today show it as sanitised to nothing but a dark fuzz that adds texture to the composition. Gone is that dirty, earthy and oily melange that we knew as patchouli in the 1970s and 1980s. Monsieur. however, aims to pay homage to the multi-faceted and complex nature of this ingredient and the perfumes of yesteryear, with over 50% of its composition comprising of patchouli sourced through molecular distillation. As the brand puts it; “Monsieur. is to patchouli what Carnal Flower is to tuberose”.
So Monsieur. is a patchouli weapon – a tool for seduction for the man suave enough to wield its powers responsibly. As Persolaise noted in his review, it’s also a fragrance that looks backwards rather than forwards, making it an interesting step in the Editions de Parfums oeuvre. Although evocative, I’m sure my description of Monsieur. as a somewhat-attractive paternal figure may not be what the brand intended, I shall therefore, refer you to the official description as per Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle:
“Although seemingly simple, this formula evokes for Frédéric Malle, since its genesis, remorseless seducers such as Alfonso de Portago, Mark Birley, Jose-Luis de Villalonga or Gianni Agnelli. Their manly and timeless elegance has relentlessly guided the development of this empowering perfume. Monsieur., a neo-classical perfume, manly and utterly elegant. Monsieur.”
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is a unique brand. Positioning himself somewhere between Creative Directory and Fragrance Curator, Malle is responsible for putting the perfumer centre stage, famously slapping their names on the bottles of the fragrances they create, and allowing them artistic carte blanche to create perfumes that are works of art. It’s quite staggering to think just how many modern classics come from this line – Carnal Flower, Portrait of a Lady, Le Parfum de Therese, Une Fleur de Cassie and Vetiver Extraordinaire – I really could go on, there really isn’t a single ‘dud’ in the collection, and when viewed against the plethora of niche brands on the market, Editions de Parfums de Frederic Malle puts many to shame.
The most iconic, and in my personal opinion, the most beautiful fragrances within the collection are penned by legendary perfumer, Dominique Ropion – a man that conducts fragrant symphonies, rather than simply creates perfumes. He is the nose behind some of the greatest fragrances from the last thirty years. In short, the man is a genius and he seems to be the go-to guy for Malle when the brand wishes to ‘perfect’ a genre, whether that be the greatest tuberose scent (Carnal Flower) or the ideal rose fragrance (Portrait of a Lady), or even the coolest modern fougére (Geranium Pour Monsieur).
With that it mind, it seems appropriate for Ropion to be the nose to take on the humble Eau de Cologne with a view of creating the cologne – a cologne to serve as a reference point for the genre, and blow all others out of the water. The result is ‘Cologne Indélébile’ (‘Permanent Cologne’), a fragrance that is described by the brand as being a “modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever”, which is quite a statement to be making, if you ask me. With this permanent cologne, Malle and Ropion are attempting to redefine an age-old genre and drag it firmly into the 21st century by embracing modern technology (specifically through the use of ‘technical musks’). If that’s not an exciting prospect for a fragrance, then I don’t know what is!
“A clean scent, yet surprisingly magnetic. A modern yet traditional Eau de Cologne that lasts forever. Dominique Ropion embraces musk’s nature as both a quasi-aphrodisiac and a scent of purity to create a very personal interpretation of Eau de Cologne. A splash of the best neroli intertwined with orange blossom, bergamote, and the most technical musks for a scent that endures, and endures, and endures… Cologne Indélébile.”
– Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
It seems that the world’s greatest, and possibly only perfume curator is spoiling us. Last year, after four years of long, painful silence, Frédéric Malle launched the extraordinary Dries van Noten – a perfume that genuinely is like no other, and this summer he is generously treating the world to yet another, brand new fragrance. It seem that, much like buses, Monsieur Malle’s perfumes come in multiples and after a lengthy wait. But who are we to complain?
The new edition to the extensive and wonderful Editions de Parfums library is entitled ‘Eau de Magnolia‘ and is penned by venerable perfumer Carlos Benaïm, the man behind scents such as Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb and Dior’s Pure Poison. The fragrance is billed as both an entirely new take on the classic ‘Eau de Cologne’ as well as a beautiful presentation of the magnolia flower, and one should see it as a perfume that sits somewhere smack bang in the middle of these two things.
“This time the conversation between Frédéric Malle and Carlos Benaïm was on the headspace analysis of the magnolia and the fact that the flower is closer to an Eau de Cologne than to a classic flower. Carlos then suggested to magnify the hesperidic equilibrium of the Magnolia to enhance the Eau effect and to add a woody vibration to give it depth and sensuality. The result is a fresh chypre, an extraordinarily transparent and very natural, smelling note, animated by a somber base (vetiver, patchouli) that gives it a touch of mystery. A timeless summer perfume.”
Magnolia blooms sing with a complex profile of odours that range from the zesty smell of lemons to the waxy and almost cheesy scent of gardenia flowers. It’s a truly versatile bouquet that can radiate with freshness or revel in plush creaminess, depending entirely on how it it used. Frédéric Malle and Carlos Benaïm’s take on magnolia errs on the fresher side of things, creating a perfume that veers from eau de cologne to floral chypre in an incredibly enjoyable manner.
Thinking about the Oscars and the upcoming Jasmine Awards (for which I need to pick myself an outfit) led me to ponder over which perfumes are best suited to formal occasions. Most of the time I’m of the belief that one should wear whatever they heck they want when they want, but in situations where dress codes are enforced and one has to be smart, it can be beneficial to pick out a scent that is suitably dapper to match.
For this post I’ve put together some of my favourite ‘smart’ perfumes for black tie or formal occasions. They range from the smart casual to the well-tailored and the dramatic, and between them they serve as a mini-guide to picking that perfect scent for a special occasion. Most are unisex so are suitable regardless of whether you’re a guy or a girl and can be paired with a suit, tux or fancy dress to ensure that you’re looking good and smelling fine.
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to series is an olfactory exploration of individual notes and ingredients that looks at the essential perfumes one must try as part of their fragrant journey. Each episode focuses on a particular note and lists the reference perfumes (i.e. the ‘must sniffs’) within that particular genre.
So far in the series we’ve explored the worlds of; Tuberose, Lavender, Oud, Orange Blossom and Chocolate. Up until now the ‘Guide to’ series has been relatively sporadic but moving forward, the intention is to schedule instalments for the beginning of each quarter – therefore suggestions on which note/genre to explore next are most welcome.
This episode takes a look at the humble violet – a genre that doesn’t quite get the exposure that it deserves. It’s a note that is more likely to be associated with the stiff upper lip of Victorian Britain than the contemporary world of modern perfumery but a number of perfume houses are making solid efforts to change this perception and are making pretty fantastic perfumes along the way.