Let’s Have some Fourplay — Just a Duo!

This time round, we’re hitting you with a a couple of Frederic Malles.  March is traveling, and Bryan got called away, so it’s just us two! 

Noir Epices – notes of notes of orange, rose,  geranium, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, pepper, patchouli, cedar and sandalwood.

Vetiver Extraordinaire – notes of bergamot, bigarade orange, pink pepper, nutmeg, floralozone, Haitian vetyver, sandalwood, cedarwood, oak moss, myrrh, cashmeran, muske-tone and tonalide

First up, Noir Epices:

Patty:  This is one of the few Malles that are completely wrong on me. It’s like one of those Christmas clove oranges fermented until it’s gone off completely wrong and rotten. Since lots of people love it, I have to assume that it’s just something that goes bad on me or it just has notes I just really, really hate, but hate it with a passion I do.  Fans of very over-the-top spicy scents should love it.  I read Lee’s notes, and powder? I get no powder.  Powder would be welcome, and I hate powdery scents.

Lee: I’m not a fan. It’s an austere geranium and patchouli number with a cold clasp of spices and orange. In my mind, I see the Habit Rouge gentleman stripped of his woollen raiment.Underneath, he’s in a plastic bustier and not much else. It’s a feminine scent with a hint of powder, big on the chypre attitude, but without the delivery.

And now, Vetiver Extraordinaire:

Lee: I can’t get beyond the fact that over time I’ve had to place this scent in the ‘gives me an enormous headache’ category. I’d say I was allergic to oakmoss, if it didn’t love me in so many other scents… Anyway, beyond the temple throb, this is all about the vetiver. I thought Haitian vetiver was the airy stuff, but here it’s all about earth. Slightly sour earth. I can detect the oakmoss and maybe a hint of nutmeg around the edges, but it’s either so wonderfully blended or so vet-dominant that all the other notes are indistinguishable, at least to me. But as I’ve said, I’m not the one to judge. I need to lie down. Send over the En Passant and Bigarade Concentree, wouldja? Them’s two Malle bubbas I love.

Patty:   Lee and his aching head are just crazy — this is vetiver perfection. It does start out a little sourish and sharp, but the longer it is on, the more beautiful it becomes. I pulled out my CB Haitian Vetiver Accord to compare the two, and the CB Haitian vetiver on its own is earthy, slightly nutty perfection, and VE is much more robust, but the Hatian vetiver is very much prominent in the drydown.  This is one of my all-time favorite vetivers, coming in only second to the vetiver I huff on like crack, Hermessence Vetiver Tonka.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Mama came to the paray late-
    But goofy-doo’s;
    Why don’t you LAYER them ?
    Them smells right PURTY layered.
    Me owns both, and likee veddy muchling.
    [Oy, too much of B’s goooood coffee, I fear]

    • Lee says:

      Oh – VE is good with Chypre Rouge – I remember your suggestion and I tried that one – was wonderful. Just need more CR!

  • Mimmimmim says:

    I’m glad so many people also have trouble with NE. It had so many great reviews online that I thought I’d try it, and couldn’t really find anything nice to say about it.

    I just thought it smelled faecal – and I’m a massive jasmine fan, so dirty notes aren’t usually a problem. NE turned to pure eau de buttcrack on me. I passed the sample on to a friend who has the opposite taste to me (she’s a big tuberose fan) and she loves it, and is bewailing how expensive a whole bottle will be.

    • Lee says:

      Well, I got no buttcrack, but that’s probably good. I often like eau de Butt… (not much of a secret round here).

  • Cheezwiz says:

    :d Much to my excitement they’ve finally opened a Malle boutique in Holt Renfrew! (Canadian Dept store). I had a chance to sample En Passant which was lovely, as well as Une Rose. The saleswoman was delightful and allowed me to try these scents in a specially designed “scent booth”. Noir Epice does not sound like its up my alley (the description of it as “soup base” made me laugh out loud!)

    I walked away intrigued and visited the French Malle website. Based on an online questionnaire their recommendations for me were Eau d’Hiver & Iris Poudre. I haven’t had a chance to go back and sample them – anyone have any impressions?

    • Lee says:

      Yatagan to me is my soup base scent…

      From memory, Iris Poudre is exactly as it describes itself. l’Eau d’Hiver is a delicate heliotrope affair – beautiful, or playdoh, depending on your perspective.

  • sweetlife says:

    I love the Malle line, even though they don’t all work on me. Parfum de Therese (check!!) En Passant (check!–and sigh), Une Rose (check!), Musc Ravageur (um, huh? what is this cinnamon everyone keeps talking about? guess I’ll retry again later), Eau de Hiver (love the concept — can’t..quite..smell it..), Bigarade Concentree (I Am a Man, but I like it).

    I haven’t tried either of these. Throw that unloved NE down south y’all /:)

    Lee, Vetiver Tonka gives me a headache, but I wear it anyway because it goes away after the top notes wear off — and *that* is how I feel about good vetiver — I simply *refuse* to be allergic!

    • Lee says:

      Oh, I can wear Vet Tonka til the cows come home – but it’s that different vetiver class to VE. Querelle by Parfumerie Generale, is another earthy vet that makes my head go funny.

  • sybil says:

    Hooboy, I actually have smelled (and disliked!) both these. NE was just too spicy and strong, and old smelling on me…like I smeared the contents of my grandma’s spice rack on my arm.
    And VE gives me an uncomfortable feeling every time I smell it on me. Not a headache, exactly, but crappy, and very few scents bother me like that. I’m w/ Patty on the huffing Vetiver Tonka, though!

  • Marina says:

    I like these two. The only FMs I have trouble with are L’eau d’Hiver and En Passant. I tried wearing the latter this weekend and kept wondering who doused herself in Cool Water.

  • loverdoll says:

    Well. . . .I’ve been reading y’all for quite a while ,so I feel good about jumping in . A sweet friend sent me a bit of Noir Epices . . . . and my experience was soup base plain and simple, BTW . . . love to read all of you every day. Please keep on . . .

  • Judith says:

    Well, I like VE, but I LOVE Noir Epices (so there!!). When I first encountered the wonderful Luis at Barneys (who is now travelling with FM, although he will be at the NY store sometimes), it was the first Malle he recommended for me. He was overruled at the time by my love for Musc Ravageur, but (after a stop for Carnal Flower) I eventually followed his advice–and I am SO happy I did! Beautiful, comforting spices, delicious on its own or (per AnnE’s recommendation) layered with my next Malle purchase, Une Rose.
    Now, Bigarade Concentree I really can’t do! It makes me smell like a big orange!

  • Elle says:

    There was a time when I thought white floral scents were pure evil – made a protective sign of the cross if they were even mentioned. However, I had an epiphany one day and have been a white flower scent sl*t ever since. I am assuming that one day I will have a similar conversion experience w/ vetiver scents. I don’t hate them the way I did white florals, but anyone checking the thermometer in hell would notice a significant drop on days I come even close to wanting to sample a vetiver scent. I do sample them in hopes of that conversion, but it hasn’t happened yet.
    Noir Epices was another scent I had a conversion experience w/. Loathed it for quite a long time (nasty, spicy shaving cream accord), but kept resampling (I am eternally hopeful)and one day woke up to find it had become this delicious, perfectly spiced, beautifully blended scent on my skin. Maybe a radical change in skin chemistry? Whatever. I’m not questioning it, just enjoying.

  • Silvia says:

    NE is one of my least fav Malles too. With NE the feeling is that I have stuck my nose in a jar of dry spices and sniffed hard. It makes the inside of my nose super-dry and almost gets to my throat. Lee is totally right, it’s hollow, a crust of dry spices with an air bubble inside.
    VE on the other hand is just wonderful. It makes me feel like a sexy woman dressed in a crisp, white man’s shirt and nothing else.
    Thanks for the reviews !

  • Louise says:

    Malle hates me. I have made so many overtures, gentle, persistent, or agressive. I have broken things off, hoping I would be missed. And when I come back-it all stinks on me. Noir Epice is more than blank on me-it is nasty (you would also run from Carnal Flower on me-all carrion). I tried the Vetiver once-and was unsure, felt out of sorts. I will try again some day, but really don’t want more rejection.

    Thanks for a great two-way!

    • Lee says:

      Every once in a while, a one-on-one sesh feels so right…

      I am rejected a little by Malle too. The only one I can wear (I think) is the Bigarade Concentree… The others – even if I love ’em, they ain’t right on me…

    • Maria says:

      Hi, Louise. Have you tried Musc Ravageur? That one is nice on me. The only other Malle I’ve tried is Carnal Flower. It doesn’t smell like carrion on me, but it bothers me. It’s too shrill or something. Oh, well, there are so many other fragrances to try.

      • Louise says:

        Maria-thanks, I’ll try the Musc Ravageur-I think I missed that one at Barney’s last desperate-to-find a Malle trip.

        • Lee says:

          We’ll give it a go in Les Senteurs if you like Louise – though, like a lot of musks, in can go feral in sunshine (and – AT LAST! – we have that now).

  • katy says:


    I would like to try both…
    Anyway, a little OT :is Bigarade Concentree much different from the EDT ?
    Thak you !

  • Maria says:

    Wow! I’m speechless since reading Catherine’s response. My husband was not in line to become a priest of Kal–though he carries upon his head plenty of family curses. Wow!

    Well, trying to gain my composure here. I’d be interested to hear from someone who likes Noir Epices. Catherine Deneuve is rumored to like it, and her taste in fragrances is impeccable. I haven’t tried either of today’s fragrances, so I’m not much help. :d

    However,I did finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows tonight.

    • Maria says:

      Oops, forgot! Lee, I hope your head has recovered. (%)

    • Lee says:

      I *thought* I’d like NE when I tried it all that time ago – spices are so me. But there’s something hollowed out about the scent, and not in a Jean Claude Ellena stripped-down-but-good way. It’s empty.

      HP – now, don’t get me started. I’ve been all quandrified about the Snapeness since I finished last weekend… But I can’t talk here for fear of spoilers.

    • Judith says:

      I adore Noir Epices (see below). I also finished HP, and was somewhat disappointed–not completely, just somewhat.:)

      • Maria says:

        Judith and Lee, I thought the last few chapters were rather exposition-heavy. That’s not what one expects at the end of a seven-book series. Hmm, shouldn’t we have known some of these rather important details earlier? 😕 But overall I was pleased. I didn’t feel frustrated, as when I read Order of the Phoenix.

  • Catherine says:

    Lee, I laugh when you say “temple throb.” My husband was in line to be a priest of Kali, and he carries the family curse for a broken 1000 year tradition (memoir upcoming). Just last night, I brought VE out for him to try. Instantly, he said, This reminds me of an interior in India. He pestered me all night–Is there sandlewood? Is it a food? A spice? A memory that only I know? I did research for much of the morning to answer his questions–but the truth is, the scent is him, just him. This is his “temple throb,” but in a more positive light. In many ways, he found “home.” I’ll admit, I can’t really wear it–but it smells beautiful as it wafts in an afternoon breeze or when he drives with the window down. I don’t think he’ll use another fragrance for a while–he’s just too happy. A large bottle is in the future for Diwali.

    • Maria says:

      Catherine, your husband’s predicament is beyond fascinating. Forgive my curiosity, but, well, Kali is the goddess of destruction. What sort of activities does a priest of Kali engage in? (I know. I’m being forward.) Our former primary care physician’s first name was Kali. I must say I felt a little uneasy about relying on someone named for a fierce deity. Moreover, it was a mystery why a man bore the name of a goddess. Anyway, I hope a memoir really is forthcoming. Please let us know when it comes out. I’ll be first in line at Borders.

      • Lee says:

        I’m psyched for the memoir too. Kali, eh? I know she likes trampling on dead bodies and such, but I assumed she was the necessary cleansing agent (theological bleach, if you will) before regeneration…

        A bottle for Diwali – brilliant. Lihgt a couple of candles for the Posse folks.

      • Catherine says:

        Maria and Lee, yes, a memoir is upcoming, to be released for next summer (though pre-press release things may start earlier in the year). Kali is perhaps the most misunderstood goddess. My husband’s line is from the south of India–so Kali and Kali priests from other places are unknown to me. Born out of rage and fear of another goddess, as her husband-god would violate her bath and then killed their son, Kali is the redresser. One goes to Kali to ask how to redress wrongs, from murders to failed crops. The priests are the redressers in life and the soothers of Kali’s anger when called upon. In South India, these priests were part of the most-feared warriors that the British faced when trying to take over. The priest-line were six-foot-plus giants that seemingly dwarfed all humanity around them, whether from Britain or India. They appear like gods and could do much harm if called upon. The dangerous thing about Kali is that she is outside society–she is born of vengence and the gods could not contain her. They feared her. The book is about this, in part, and about Hanuman and about many other things. This is not the typical presentation of religion, however, and we wait for it to be called blasphemous.

        Lee, I think I read that you bought Nuit Noir(?). Utterly exciting. I’m so waiting for Orio to come across the pond. In my humble opinion, Mona di Orio captures the “je ne sais quoi” of French women–the kind of woman who can take all these discrete elements and make everything ZING without loosing trace of the separate pieces.

        Maria, I cannot (yet?) wear Noir Epices. On me, it’s simply messy.

  • tmp00 says:

    well, I may have to test these. Not at all because the previously forbidding salesperson at Barneys has been replaced by a tall drink of water with curly brown hair and delicious beown eyes.

    So an I totally “Death in Venice” or what? in my defense I don’t want to boink him, I want tobuy him a malted and check his curriculum. Then boinking. If he wants. oh c’mon you would too!

    • Lee says:

      Don’t hold back on my account, sugar plum. But I will require inside leg measurements…