M. Malle. so, I got to Barneys a few minutes before 5p, to find M. Malle in the chic little area devoted to his fragrances (Bauhaus-inspired chairs, elegant fittings and those smelling booths) looking totally soigne and comfortable in his surroundings. Christina (the delightful woman who helped us Chicocoans through the Malles) told me to introduce myself; I did (hey, I am not shy. I’m a bit insane. But not shy.) I told him about the Posse, of which he is aware (positive), bless him. He was agreeable to my yakking with him for a Posse post, bless him again. We had a lovely 5-10 min pre-Event chat, about blogging (he has definite opinions), cows (not so much), Catholic school upbringing (both of us and don’t ask me how we got on that – it seemed germane at the time), the scent of our parents’ lives (the Coffee Society candle is most often equated with that, for his clients). He would be a great person to spend some time with at a real cocktail party, I think.
May I just tell you how charming he is? Absolutely charming. He is that fascinating French-in-America hybrid. TOTALLY French. But an attractive, pragmatic respect and appreciation for the US that is delightful . Very urbane, very good-looking, in that Very French Way. Very polished. In that… yeah, you get the idea.
And he’s very gracious. Which is great because…..
He let me smell him! Seriously. What a sport! I explained that THE POSSE ASKED ME TO DO IT. After the briefest pause he realized a) I wasn’t any crazier than anybody else he’d met that day and b) apparently I really had been asked by people who admire him and what he’s done for perfume – and I was respectful – as respectful as you can be, I guess, when you are asking a total stranger if you can smell them! You people are freaks and obviously I am even freakier for doing what you ask! He had the barest traces of Geranium pour Monsieur, which seems to be his scent choice, if recent interviews are anything to go by. What was really lovely was, he was so damn NICE about it, understanding that it really was a serious request. He opened up his shirt so he (HE) could smell the inside, which he said still smelled like GpM – I wasn’t going there. Not even for y’all. Somehow it didn’t seem like Quite the Thing to Do, y’know? I didn’t ask. And he didn’t offer.
HE SMELLED MURRAY! Y’all know Murray – he’s my adored vintage Murray Kruger blue croc handbag. He’s pretty fragile so he doesn’t get out much – but often I’ll take him out of his sleeper just to smell his insides. They smell like my mother’s handbag from when I was 6 – good leather, shards of tobacco from her Philip Morris Commanders that slipped out of her gold cigarette case, Shalimar, face powder. I really wanted to know if he smelled 1960 like I did and was totally perplexed when he said it smelled like decomposing (that is not the word he used – hang on I’ll try to remembernopesorry) oranges. Later I remembered that I’d thrown a cotton ball with one drop of bigarade absolute into Murray’s inner pocket, for about 32 seconds, about a year ago. I need to get my sinuses fixed. Murray and I are Big Fans Now.(Murray was so excited to be there!)
So, the Event. We went upstairs to the Personal Shopper suite ..… nicely lit, crystal flutes with Veuve Cliquot, soft music…
…and here’s where M. Malle became Editions des Parfums – the Candles; as he said, when I later queried him (for the second time) about the upcoming Portrait of a Lady “not tonight. Tonight it’s all about the candles”. It sounds really lovely when said with a charming accent, trust me. I got sidetracked so he was already seated and chatting with another guest when I came in – this is important because I was not at all prepped re the candles – I kinda boobled into the room, still focused on perfume with no clear sense of what was going on. Before I tell you about them, let me tell you that I was hoping he was gonna bust out some PoaL (which he said has something to do with Geranium but not the regular parts of geranium – or something like that. I was already into my 3rd glass of the widder’s brew and I’d missed lunch and …I’m sorry – it’ll be out in Nov and we can figure it out then, okay?). Anyway, not candles. I. Hate. Candles. My sinuses are shot. A scented candle sends my septum into Red Alert and in a few ticks I cannot breathe. Add the incipient sinus infection and I should’ve been in a Disaster Zone. Instead, I kept thinking ‘wow, this bouquet really smells lovely’. It wasn’t until I began to focus on the conversation that I realized the flowers were silk and I was smelling the lit candle! Did I mention I am NOT an investigative journalist? I am an exhausted bonehead who missed the obvious marketing cues. Like the big-ass buncho GIANT RED CANDLES! Oooopsie. But I have to say, this is the absolute first-evah! Candle that doesn’t smell like a candle AT ALL! Ier Mai (May Day) is a joyful bouquet of muguet blossoms, with none of that sinus-searing stuff. None. For the whole two hours. Whoa! Rosa Rugosa smells exactly like the bloom – and I should know – I have had at least 20 of those bushes in my past 5 gardens. I don’t know if it’s supposed to but Jurassic Flower (modeled on magnolia) reminds me of a gorgeous night-blooming tuberose. Are they worth between $80 – $140? Not in the life I am currently living but that’s not their fault – in my former life I would’ve bought all three of those, right then, without blinking, they are that lovely. Patty did some nosework on the candles on Friday’s post and she’s way better versed than me.
There were about 15 of us willing captives enthralled as M. Malle discussed how he came to the idea of making candles, how he really doesn’t like what’s on the market currently (he used NO names, so don’t ask) and how few, if any, other companies employ perfumers to create candles. Passed bell jars around – these candles have some serious ‘throw’. He talked about how he feels a home should smell (hint: it ain’t ‘sexy’), ‘headspace’ technology and how he sends more flowers to Dominique Ropion than any other man…he OWNED that room. I was spellbound but for a slightly odd reason – perfumista warred with the business owner in me – I sat in total awe of the elegant juggernaut that was Barneys and Editions, there in that lovely little sitting room. Signed candles flew into shopping bags like Halloween candy! Man, I gotta figure out how to translate that into container loaders! M. Malle is no dilettante. He is passionate about his love for perfumery but also for his business – and you know what? I can totally get with that. It was a great presentation and I came away with serious respect for him as an artiste, a muse (if he isn’t Muse to those perfumers I don’t know who is – his respect for their craft is palpable) and a businessman. As much as I wanted to ask him everything PERFUME (he loves Mitsouko! Fracas! Yay!) it was obvious he was there to do a job, so I had to let him. But it was tough! The crowd got into a heated discussion about Fracas v. Carnal Flower and he charmingly redirected the focus before it turned into a brawl…..but it was close! Okay, not really. Uh, it was Me v. The Room. Yeah, like you’re surprised.
A couple of Other Event Things: Here is my petard. I iz hoist with it.
I think I might’ve been a tad bitch erm testy about whom I perceived as the invited ‘spendies’. Oho! I was SO wa-ronnng! The people at this Event were ……wow. Let’s just say I would be delighted to have dinner with any one – or all – of them. Erudite, engaged, engaging! None of this ‘I’m herebecausehe’sacelebritywhere’smygoodiebag’ nonsense. These were serious devotees of the perfumer’s craft, or at least seriously into perfume. One very interested gentleman had just recovered his sense of smell after a 20yr loss! His lady wife, an excellent nose, recalled being in a pitched battle with a chef over the use of scented candles and fragrant flowers on an haute cuisine dinner table. An excellent conversation, there. Another lovely lady, Susan, wearing a vintage Yohji Yamamoto jacket that has convinced me that a brisk walk is way better than a chocolate cupcake writes poetry about the scents she loves – she shared a lovely one she wrote about Dans Tes Bras. Incredibly interesting people. I was in heaven. And I apologize to each and every one of you for that mean, snipey haiku. I have put down the Haterade and picked up the Love Jug.
Also, I met a lovely Posse lurker who gave me a bit of street cred (her shriek of ‘YOU’RE MUSETTE!!” brought the house down (in a good way). Thanks, Tally! She has promised to de-lurk. She is nervous about commenting because she says she doesn’t know anything about perfume. Ha! She obviously has not read my posts! Her beautiful friend Olena (a designer of incredible jewelry) stunned her silly by gifting her with a Russian Nights candle! Wow! That was Much Fun to watch! More champagne!
And then, just like Cinderella’s ball, it was all over. M. Malle bid us au revoir and slid out of the room and off to O’Hare, unless he had a G-V parked at Midway which wouldn’t surprise me one bit – and I ain’t hatin’. Me? I walked home. I was soaked to the gills in Veuve Cliquot, it was a beautiful autumn night and I really would like to fit into a Yohji jacket once again. Muchisimas Gracias to Bradley, Lydia, Christina and Marie – you are the only reason I pay Chicago sales tax! Barneys is very lucky to have you.
By the way, in answer to my query ( knowing my love for Mitsouko but also accepting that I use it when I need to wield an olfactory broadsword, though he describes it as ‘ladylike’ – well yeah, if you’re Lady Macbeth!) he determined that the best Editions scent for me, when I need to bust some construction heads, is not Angeliques, which he said was too timid for my needs. It should be Noir Epices. What say you?