Sunday, January 07, 2007

Better-Know-A-Niche Perfumery: Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

My third Parisian parfumerie was Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, located a couple blocks from Maître Parfumeur et Gantier at 37 rue de Grenelle, 75007.

Frederic Malle shook up the perfume world a few years ago when he offered nine world-class perfumers the freedom to create the luxurious perfumes of their choice. The resulting fragrances are of the highest quality and are a true delight for the senses. This boutique is very sleek and modern, with six floor-to-ceiling glass tubes in which customers may test various scents.

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It's hard to tell from this photo, but basically the cylinder swings open at waist level, and you stick your head into the tube and breathe in the fragrance, in this case, En Passant. It is a terrific way to smell the pure fragrance with no olfactory distractions.

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My favorite fragrances in this line are Carnal Flower, a rich, elegant tuberose-based floral created by Dominique Ropion; En passant, Olivia Giacobetti's ethereal white lilac fragrance with watery notes, orange tree leaves, cucumber and wheat; and Iris Poudre, a sophisticated floral of iris, jasmine and rose warmed on a vanilla and sandalwood base. It was created by Pierre Bourdon.

The sales associate at this boutique told me it took 700 trials before deciding upon the final recipe for Carnal Flower. She said 15 trials/day would be presented for testing over a great length of time. I must say, it was well worth the wait!

Their website has an intriguing chart under the "choose your own perfume" tab indicating where each frederic malle fragrance is located on a scent grid. There is a "fresh/transparent"..."warm/rich" continuum intersected by a "sweet/soft"..."dry/streamlined" continuum. This visual display makes it very easy to begin choosing a fragrance. I wish all perfumeries would adopt this technique!

These 15 exceptional fragrances can be purchased in the U.S. at Barneys New York (in New York City, L.A., Boston and Dallas) and online at: barneys new york.
Cost: Carnal Flower 100 ml $250; En Passant 50 ml $105; Iris Poudre 100 ml $180. Also available is the test kit of 14-10 ml samples and descriptive booklet, for 240 euros on the Frederic Malle website.
photos credit: Christine Pierce

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