Frederic Malle perfume has been around since slightly before 2000. Founded on a philosophy of giving the perfumer a very broad idea of what they wanted, then letting the perfume create it. Then, the almost always unseen, unknown perfumer got his/her name slapped on the bottle. Everything about this idea was perfect. We also have gotten a body of perfume work from Malle that is impressive.
Malle was sold a couple of years ago to Estee Lauder, and there have been reformulations to bring them into compliance with IFRA. I am not in a position to compare pre-reformulation with current. Are there differences? Of course. You can’t make the exact same perfume when you have to sub in some other things. All of us would prefer to have the original, but that isn’t possible. Whew, evaded that topic.
While smelling these, I would search for old reviews, and I don’t have a lot – never reviewed En Passant, which is so weird given how much I love it. Not that I haven’t fallen in love with most/many of the Frederic Malle perfumes. Trying to think of the difference between Malle and Lutens and why I have written more about Lutens than Malle. I think I have a more emotional reaction to Lutens. Not sure why, they seem more vulnerable, have more question marks around them. Malle perfumes always seem so sure of themselves, with a few exceptions. The problem is in me finding it easier to write about question marks than sure things. Ah, something else to work on in 2017.
But I don’t think it is just me. Finding reviews around the internets yields a much smaller bounty on Frederic Malle perfumes than Serge Lutens.
- Le Parfum de Therese (1999) – The first, the one with the story. Edmond Roudnitska created it for his wife and only long after her death was it released to the public. I can stand back and do nothing but admire this – it is clearly very personal and expresses much about the woman who wore it and the husband who made it for the woman he loved and knew. Notes of tangerine, melon, rose, plum, cedar, vetiver and leather.
- Angeliques Sous La Pluie (2000) – Long one of my too-little-worn favorites from this brand, it’s the one I always put on and go “why am I not wearing this allll the time?” Coriander, pink pepper, cedar, angelica, juniper and musk. The woody pepper over the angelica is just enough pep to widen your eyes and brighten your day, and the drydown is smooth and delightful.
- En Passant (2000) – Bread, rain and lilacs. I mean, really? It sounds weird, but it is in my bag to take with me on the rocket ship when I get word SMOD is imminent. Melancholy, beautiful, poignant. Late spring, early summer days, lilac in bloom, rain still sputtering, with the smell of mom’s baking bread wafting through the open windows of the farmhouse. Yeah, Malle has his bread, rain and lilac memory and I have mine. Everyone should have a bread, rain and lilac memory in their past. And present. Notes of white lilac, rain accord, cucumber, wheat, orange tree leaves.
“When one thing dies all things die together, and must live again in a different way, when one thing is missing everything is missing, and must be found again in a new whole and everything wants to be complete, everything wants to go home and the geese travelling south are like the shadow of my breath flying into the darkness on great heart-beats to an unknown land where I belong” – David Whyte “What I Must Tell Myself”
- Iris Poudre (2000) – Aldehydic, slightly powdery iris. It is soft without being overly feminine. It is one of the Frederic Malle perfumes that veers more feminine instead of unisex or slightly masculine. Pierre Bourdon. Bergamot, orange, palisander rosewood, ylang-ylang, carnation, magnolia, jasmine, lily, violet, rose, aldehydes, iris, musk, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, ebony tree and vetiver.
- Lipstick Rose (2000) – Rump-shaking siren perfume from Raif Schwieger. Like the smell in Chanel lipsticks – sultry and flirty, almost crayon waxy. Rose, violet, musk, vanilla, vetiver, amber and grapefruit
- Lys Mediterranee (2000) – Made our Perfume 101 selections when we did it over a decade ago, and it still deserves that spot. Edouard Flechier created this of sea water, ginger, angelica, orange blossom, lotus, lily, vanilla and musk. Salted lily relaxing into a pool of floral vanilla. Forgot how much I like this. Not very vanilla or musky, but it’s enough to smooth out the lily and make you forget there is some :::shudder::: aquatics in here.
- Musc Ravageur (2000) – Every time I put this on, I remember I’m not in touch with my inner vamp enough to wear it – at least for the first 30 minutes or so, before the spices bloom a bit. Then! I got the body butter version. After the first maybe 30 minutes, I realize it is for me from start to finish. There are a few Malles that work better in the lotion or the shower gel. Maurice Roucel with notes of lavender, bergamot, cinnamon, cloves, sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla, guaiac wood and cedar
- Noir Epices (2000) – The dread I experienced before I put this on was just silly. Spritz, and.. oh, hey there, maybe that is – oh, no, no, no, no, please get it off of me!!!! I don’t know why I hate this so much, the notes are lovely, I should love it, but I don’t for the same reason I despise Serge Lutens Arabie. Just too much there there. I get why people adore it, but it’s not ever happening for me. Created by Michel Roudnitska, it has notes of orange, rose, geranium, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, cloves,sandalwood, patchouli, cedar and vanilla.
- Une Fleur de Cassie (2000) – Ropion did this. Notes of mimosa, jasmine, black locust, rose, carnation, sandalwood, vanilla and Cassis. This used to be difficult for me when I originally tried it a decade or so ago. Difficult is an understatement, I haaaaated it. The only reason I kept returning to it periodically is because… well, Ropion. There is a feral undertone on the open that is off-putting. I finally got the Body Butter of this scent. Inside all of that luxurious, thick lotion, I got it. Fleshly, buttery mimosa, just gut through the open, if it bothers you, and enjoy the next day of your life wearing this.
- Cologne Bigarade (2001)/ Bigarade Concentree (2002) – I never have a lot to say about these two, and I always lump them together, but always a blast to wear. Classic citrus. Not sure if it still comes in the vat, but if it does and you have it, splash it on like you have to use it all up before sunset. Bitter orange, rose, cedar, grass and hay. Lookee there, grass and hay, my faves. This explains my generous splashing on tendencies with it.
- Vetiver Extraordinaire (2003) – One of my very favorite vetiver fragrances. There is this lovely crispness to it that gives way to that lovely spiced vetiver. Lord, I forgot how much I love this. Why would I wear something else? Created by Dominique Ropion, notes of bergamot, bitter orange, pink pepper, cloves, vetiver, sandalwood, cedar, oakmoss, myrrh and musk
- L’eau d’Hiver (2003) – Jean-Claude Ellena created this softly shimmering perfume. Heliotrope is so, so soft in this, not powdery. This is one of the line’s most understated and underappreciated perfumes. Heliotrope, Iris and honey.
- Une Rose (2003) – Foreshadows Portrait of a Lady. Not the same, not the same perfumer. Edouard Flechier created it with notes of pelargonium, rose, fruity notes, woodsy notes, tuber, musk, honey, geranium and red wine. I keep thinking it veers more feminine, but not really. Lipstick Rose has that duty. There is a beautiful depth to Une Rose, a honeyed singularity that is stunning. And a guy could and should wear it.
- Carnal Flower – (2005) – Green, gorgeous tuberose. It is chewy and buttery and covered with lovely greenhouse aromas puffed out with eucalyptus. Candice Bergen was the muse for this fragrance created by Dominique Ropion. Noes of bergamot, melon, eucalyptus, ylang, jasmine, tuberose, Salicylates (natural herbal toxic thingie that plants use as a warning to stay away), tuberose absolute, orange blossom, coconut and musk. I never tire of this, even though I think I should My favorite versions of it are the hair mist and the body butter.
- French Lover (2007) – History says the name of this was not okay in the United States, so it became Bois d’Orage, right? I think they are pretty close. Masculine green woods. I can’t even think for a second I’d wear it, it’s got no femme in it – it is all boy. Pierre Bourdon was the perfumer with notes of spices, galbanum, incense, cedar, angelica, oakmoss, vetiver and white musk.
- Outrageous (2007) – I always forget Malle made this. Why? Outreach to a mass market? Thank God they abandoned that attempt. I don’t hate it, it’s not terrible, I just never remember anything about it. That name? Well. Sophia Grosjman created it with notes of lime, cinnamon, green apple, mint, grapefruit, orange blossom, neroli, aldehydes, amber, cedar and musk.
- Dans Tes Bras (2008) – Woody floral from Maurice Roucel. Soft, elegant woody thing. It occurs to me that I may have never worn this or it was cursory. This is a great everyday scent. Heliotrope, jasmine, woodsy notes, patchouli, pine tree, cashmeran, sandalwood, musk, incense and violet.
- Geranium Pour Monsieur (2009) – Ropion did this for men. Mint absolute, peppermint oil, Chinese geranium oil, rhodinol, anethol, floralozone, CO2, clove, white musk, ambroxan, sandalwood, resinoid incense and Siamese styrax benzoin. That was a pretty clinical note list. Mint is always a not for me. Ropion doing a mint geranium, I was thinking maybe? No, not me, but it’s a great focus on geranium. It’s not that prominent after the initial start, but this is very botanical with a cool spiced backdrop
- Portrait of a Lady (2010) – A serious rose fragrance that leans masculine. Hey, not exactly, but men should run to try it, especially if you think roses only belong in the expensive bouquets you send for Valentine’s Day and birthdays. Every time I smell this, it takes my breath away with how audacious it is. Rose that slaps you hard, then curls around you and shows you how very essential it is to your continued existence. Dominatrix Rose. Dominique Ropion is responsible for this as well, with notes of Turkish rose, raspberry, black currant, cinnamon, clove, patchouli, sandalwood, incense, ambroxan, benzoin and white musk.
- Dries Van Noten (2013) – For some reason, I didn’t have any of this in my house. Going purely from a review shortly after it was released “You’ll keep catching whiffs of something delicately balancing on the verge of gourmet, like a memory of gramma baking your favorite goodies in the kitchen – not real, better than real.” Bruno Jovanovic. sandalwood, guaiac wood, tonka bean, vanilla, saffron, jasmine, musk, bergamot, lemon, nutmeg, cloves, patchouli, woody notes and peru balsam.
- Eau de Magnolia (2014) – Carlos Benaim created this. It is hard to find a great magnolia scent that doesn’t wear on your last nerve after a couple of hours – not sure why that is. This one fits that no-irritation rule. Blended beautifully with some crisp citrus, it highlights the magnolia, without making it too dominant or too meek where it disappears. Bergamot;, magnolia, vetiver, patchouli, cedar, moss and amber
- The Night (2014) – Dominique Ropion created this dark oud with notes of agarwood (oud), amber and turkish rose. I saw fleetingly somewhere that there was a body butter of this, and then it quickly disappeared. Oud is tough for me, but Frederic Malle the Night is not. Smooth, dark. Ridiculously expensive, but you need – honestly, even a spray is too much. I keep trying to decide if I should just make a roller ball of this. it is pungent and lasts like your mother-in-law that won’t go home, but a mother-in-law you like for at least a day or two. Lord, I just sprayed some to test and overdid it. I may have to cancel today’s meetings or phone in on a conference call. Still love it, but be CAREFUL with it.
- Monsieur (2015) – Patchouli. Then some more Patchouli. Just a dab or two more. If you love patchouli, this has to be on the top of your list to try.
- Cologne Indelebile (2015) – This is one of their most soaringly beautiful Malle scents – if not the most purely beautiful – also from Ropion. Orange blossom beauty and every time I wear it and people comment on how beautiful it smells. Yeah, there’s some projection there as well you should be aware of!
- Superstitious (coming soon!) – will début in the U.S. 2017.
Of course we are doing a drawing, and it’s a great one! It is for an entire sample set of all of the Malle scents. Actually, two of them. There will be a drawing here, and I’ll also do one over on the STC Facebook page, so you can have two chances to win. I don’t have the post up on FB, but will tomorrow morning for sure.