Frederic Malle with Acne Studios

Before we delve into this new collaboration between Acne Studios (to my mind, a really unfortunate name) and Frederic Malle, I just have to crow about our recent beautiful weather – consistently warm and sunny, just perfect – and my lily of the valley bloom. I’ve got a fair number of LotV plants coming up this year, but I only have two bloom spikes so far.

When one of them finally had enough open bells to smell, I did. And, boy – boy, boy, boy. I had forgotten how incredibly LotV smells in the flesh: so so pretty, but with an incredible musky dirty knickers aspect under that pretty. Just wow. What a springtime treat.

But, onward.

I grabbed a sample of Acne Studios after reading that this is the last Malle fragrance that he’ll be involved with. I saw this on a perfume blog I generally trust and it does seem to be out there on Google. The writer wasn’t sure if this was part of Malle’s contract with Estee Lauder or something else. I do wonder what will happen to a brand that I have a lot of time for.

In any case, he piloted Editions de Parfums for 25 years and released a lot of really great stuff.

I knew nothing about Acne Studio as a brand – had to have a look at the website. If you are familiar with it maybe the fragrance will make a lot of sense. As to the clothing offered I am definitely not their demographic – either style-wise or based on price point.

For me, this is something of a departure from many Malles and I find it quite perplexing.

Per the marketing guff, ‘this embodies the bold alliance between fashion, perfumery and art’. Sigh.

Released this year, the nose is Suzy Le Helley from Symrise. I have never heard of her. It is posited as an aldehydic floral by Fragrantica and the notes list includes aldehydes, rose, violet, orange blossom, vanilla, peach, sandalwood, frankincense and musks.

The bottle label is white vs black for all other Malles I’ve seen.

It opens on me peach/very strong caramel/powder with a whisper of something citrus. And that initial caramel sort of comes out of nowhere given the notes list.

It calms down fairly quickly into floral peach powder and the aldehydes make it smell quite artificial and chemical – and I don’t mean in a new and unique way.

I found the opening of this really hard to take. But, I persevered.

As it warms up, the aldehydes really do recede, making this easier to deal with and making the notes more individually accessible. I still get a lot of peach … a lot. I really enjoy peach as a perfume note. But, I am not sure peach and powder in this configuration works that well. It’s, well, cute rather than luscious.

As we move along I get peach with mint and pepper, with no real discernible florals. And oddly the mint is fairly prominent. But, there’s also a whisper of almond.

Longevity is fine – several hours at least — and the drydown does actually become pretty in an utterly mainstream way, which I can’t imagine Acne was after: a gently musky peach with an almond-vanilla aspect.

Bottle prices are £200 and £290 for 50 and 100ml sizes of EdP.

Sampling this made me wonder whether I should think seriously about forking out the £200 for a 50ml bottle of Carnal Flower soon (to go along with my 10ml travel size) – ie, if this is the direction of the brand from here (ie, post Malle) I feel I need to at least preserve that love in its current iteration – before someone thinks of tinkering with it.

And, the fragrance made me oddly sad. Everything Malle has done is via collaboration. That’s the whole point. But as a swansong, this feels like going out with a whisper (or even a whimper) rather than a bang.

Anyone else tried this yet?

Pics: Pexels and mine

  • Tom says:

    Nope. And it isn’t exactly making me want to hit Melrose Place at a dead run to see if they have it. But I have issues with peach: love it in a pie, delicious in white sangria, and nothing more delightful on a hot summer day than a nice ripe one, but in scent it’s usually garlic to my Dracula.

    LotV though I love (and my post this week is about it so I’ll have to edit it to state I’m not copying you. Again) and I do miss living somewhere they naturally grow. They’re such a sign that spring has finally sprung and summer is really on the way. And I love that dirty knickers aspect..

    • cinnamon says:

      Peaches grow here, even with all the wet. If I had the space I might try to do it.

      I love your posts, Tom, and look forward to whatever LotV you’re focusing on.

  • SpringPansy says:

    Def go for Carnal Flower!
    Regarding the name of the brand, Acne Studios:
    It is a Swedish company.
    Per wikipedia:
    When founded in 1996, the label derived its name from the creative collective ACNE; initially an acronym for Associated Computer Nerd Enterprises and later a backronym of Ambition to Create Novel Expressions.

  • March says:

    Ooooh that LotV! I love that smell in the wild. It’s amazing that such tiny flowers can pump that out. I am (vaguely) familiar with Acne studios, and the fragrance sounds … oddly incongruent? In addition to just odd. I think of their clothes as urban / trendy and would have pictured something else, fragrance-wise. I’d take a backup bottle of Carnal Flower instead.

    • cinnamon says:

      It is interesting what those little bells produce. I don’t know anything about the brand except for looking it up for the post. It’s awfully pricey for what is offered, IMHO. If this is how the collaborative concept is going to play out I am not optimistic.

  • Dina C. says:

    Haven’t seen that anywhere to sniff it yet. It seems awfully pricy for a fruity musky scent. It’s sad to think that this label has fizzled out.

    • cinnamon says:

      I don’t know if it has fizzled. Not a lot of info floating around. I just hope Lauder leaves it alone. I wonder if the noses who worked with Malle would even consider working with Lauder.

  • Maya says:

    I was somewhat interested when I heard peaches and aldehydes but it seems that the consensus is that the perfume is simply not good. I will also put some FM perfumes at the head of my fb or backup list before they are permanently ruined.

    • cinnamon says:

      In thinking about it some more, I think the balance regarding the aldehydes is off — just too prominent. I was recalling Chanel No 5 and that occurred to me — that, certainly up top, this is not a well-balanced composition. Yes, I am going to think very hard (and quickly) about adding a bottle of Carnal Flower.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    I find the aldehyde/peach smell a lot like opening canned sliced peaches.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      That’s interesting, Portia. You would think the aldehydes would lighten things. In any case, my sample is sitting lonely nearby as I can’t get myself to spray it on again.

  • Kathleen says:

    The notes with aldehydes sound nice enough and I would probably like the perfume. However, looking at the bottle, I wouldn’t buy it because of the name Acne Studio prominently displaced. Very unpleasant name. Did the marketing team not think about this?

    • cinnamon says:

      The notes do sound good but I really don’t feel like it’s a great composition. I know nothing about the company and I was sort of surprised that Malle collaborated given everything else he’d done with the brand.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I’m not the target audience either. As much as I love aldehydes, I am gonna give this a pass. Just buy the Carnal Flower in the biggest bottle that you can afford and try to move on. The people who own Estee Lauder will probably ruin the whole line by discontinuing 80% and reformulate the remaining 20% to where it’s garbage.

    • cinnamon says:

      Someone wondered if Lauder has already changed things. My travel size, which is at least two years old, smells glorious. There are loads of bottles on eBay …

  • carole says:

    I don’t think I’m the target audience for any of this, but I enjoyed your review. I don’t think I want a bottle labeled Acne on my counter, and the notes just don’t appeal to me. I wondered what would happen when they were bought by EL. I had hoped the pricing would be stable: one thing FM always said was you pay for quality, and since they were a small firm using great ingredients-I hoped that since EL has more buying power they would keep the quality and the prices at the same level. Not the case, and the increases means I’ve bought mine at discounters.

    I feel the same as you do, cinnamon-maybe time to pick up something I’d love before any more changes take place. I kind of want a small bottle of Synthetic Jungle-mostly for the name lol. I like the fragrance. Really green scents tend to not smell the best on my skin. But I don’t want a bottle of Synthetic Nature-I’d rather have Synthetic Jungle. Of the whole line I think Dans Yes Bras is my favourite, and I have a three pack of 10 ml and a 100 ml size. I think if you love Carnal Flower it’s time to ‘invest’ in it. Just my two cents.

    • cinnamon says:

      Thank you. It’s a bit of a hard one. If CF were a signature scent I would buy several immediately. As it stands I have seen an unboxed bottle on eBay for £115 with a reputable seller…

    • Dina C. says:

      I have Synthetic Jungle and really enjoy it. It’s very galbanum forward. If you enjoyed Chanel Les Exclusif Bel Respiro, Gucci Envy, PG Papyrus di Ciane, you would enjoy Synthetic Jungle.

      • carole says:

        Dina, I loved Gucci Envy-I bought so many bottles of it. Then it started to appear at Shoppers Drug Mart, and I bought it to give as gifts. Wish I kept one for myself. I’ll probably get some SJ, at some point-if I’m lucky 🙂

  • Tara C says:

    I haven’t tried it and unless I happened to be standing in a store that carried it, would not seek it out. It sounds bad and the name is just ugh. My advice: buy the Carnal Flower now and be done with it. I’m guessing the brand will go even more downhill.

    • cinnamon says:

      If you encounter it, I would suggest blotter first. Usually when I am trying something for a post I manage at least three goes (unless it’s a scrubber first time round). With this, I tried twice, the second time to get more of a handle on the caramel aspect. However, I’m not sure I can do this again on skin. I keep looking at the sample bottle and moving on to something else.