Frederic Malle Red box thingie (Patty)

Also known as the not-used-often-enough “Let Patty buy it so you don’t have to” post.

When we were at Barney’s in New York, sticking our noses deep in the Malle candles —

Wait, can I just say that as much as I love the Santal Cardamome candle, it’s almost too rich for me.  Not quite, I can burn it for a while, but I have to shut it down after like 20 minutes. around the  I hate saying that because it’s never happened before.  The sandalwood is just jumping out of the candle, with the cardamom chasing it hard around the room.  I understand from what I’ve read, these are the only two ingredients in the candle since Malle and Ropion were playing around with it and decided they went great together and needed nothing else.  Yes, I guess so.  One amps the other, and it is wicked potent.

Back to Barney’s in NYC with our noses stuck in candles.  I spied this cute little red box with a round circle on the front.  “Whats that?” I asked, figuring it carried a big price tag, and that it was probably some sort if scent blower thing for the times you didn’t want to burn candles. Well, yessirreebobka, that’s exactly what it was.  It’s like $290’ish. I couldn’t bear to look at my receipt, but over $200, less than $300, I think. If it’s more, I don’t want to know, and you do have to have the Malle boutique in Paris or NYC send it to you, Barney’s doesn’t seem to have them on hand.. But you do get the scent of your choice in there, and I picked the Gardenia, the scent that’s taken over my mind lately.  They do have a nonmechanical diffuser for some lesser amount that you just put the scent in and let it diffuse out in the nonjacked-up way.  I picked the active red box instead of the passive thingie.  The scent for the passive and active diffuser comes in the 30% solution or the 50%.  I am  a card-carrying charter member of the Not Screwing Around club, so I got the 50%, it’s not that much more, like $10.

You get the scent in the bottle, unscrew it, put on the wicking thing, shove it up in the red box, plug it in and turn it on.  Out wafts gentle pillows of scent in about the perfect amount.  Not so much that you’re choking on gardenia, but enough that you are smelling it delicately perfuming your room.  You can plug it in and charge it, then unplug it so you can put it anywhere in your house or just keep moving it around.  Well, yes, that is what I do, why do you ask?

I can’t make any comment on whether it’s worth it to you, but it is worth it to me. I’ve been a home scent hoyden for a couple of decades and spent a fortune on candles, incense, diffusers and all sorts of other gizmos to perfume my life.  I want the rooms I spend so much time in to smell the way I want.  I have linen spray for my sheets, the Le Labo Rose 31 laundry soap for my linens.  It is worth it to me because I can use this when I don’t want to leave a candle burning or I want to use the same device to put different scents in different rooms.  I did get another scent for the red box, the Rubrum Lily, which is truly the most gorgeous spiced lily scent in the world.  The red box is plastic, but that nontacky Malle plastic, so you can blend it in, and it doesn’t look any sillier than a lot of the other things I have laying around my house that I like.

But, hey, the good news is!  I can send out teeny samples of both the gardenia and the lily to two lucky comments who love home fragrance as  much as I do and would like to sniff these two scents. The Diffusers don’t have all the scents available, just four, I believe.  So leave a comment, give me some ideas of your favorite fall perfume (I need ideas!), and you’ll be entered in the draw.

  • Ninara Poll says:

    My favorite fall perfumes? Off the top of my head, Paloma Picasso Paloma Picasso EdP, Clinique Aromatics Elixir (vintage), Clinique Wrappings (vintage), Estee Lauder Youth Dew, Estee Lauder Cinnabar. (I don’t know why I have a thing for Cliniques and ELs in fall… I just do :) ) And anything that’s spicy warm and has sillage that in summer would be overwhelming but in fall/winter is toned down thanks to a lack of heat also works. (I tend to start dabbling in my vanillas at this time of year, but this year they’re not working for me.)

  • Cheryl says:

    Keep up the good work spreading the news on candles and smelly thingies. Fall scents? I have some of the classics, but nothing is really calling me this fall. I’m now flirting with Eau Duelle, Diptyique…a sweet airy cardamon skin scent…Bois d’Iris, VC & A…a sweet airy iris skin scent, and declaration…an denser cardamon. But sometimes good ole Chanel5 works too.

  • nozknoz says:

    Ha, ha – with the exception of these exceptionally covetable Malle diffuser samples, which I am dying to win, I am set for Fall. I’ve got my vintage Vol de Nuit, I’ve got my Kilian ouds, I’ve got vintage Lanvins, I’ve got that Iris thingie from Legendary Fragrances, Racine, Dzonka, and a decant of Bosphore, which I think is perfect fall with its blend of Turkish delight/candy apple and leather. But today I dabbed on Jub 25 from a small sample vial and am thinking there is just ONE more thing I really need – besides those Malle thingies.

  • zeram1 says:

    Guerlain’s BdA is a favorite of mine for the Fall season. I also like SL’s Chergui. Please enter me in the drawing as well.

  • dremybluz says:

    I have never tried any of the candles from the perfume houses but i have found that Root Candles pack the biggest punch of any brand on the market. I love the ginger patchouli and the black patchouli musk. The weather in Dallas is still much to warm to wear any of the heavy fall scents, but SL Arabie and Miel de Bois will be fun when we finally have cool weather around the last of November. Please enter me in the draw.

  • sharyl says:

    What a fun review. I have been an intense room fragrance freak for years and it is always great to hear the ruminations and experiences of another kindred soul. I probably have every fragrance & oil diffuser and potpourri pot and nebulizer ever made. I have them in my room, in my closets, cabinets – everywhere. Combined with candles, room sprays, pillow sprays, natural and synthetic oils, etc. One of my favorites at the time is L’Occitane fig (used in a pretty little old fashioned glass ink bottle with the reed diffusers) absolutely beautiful if you enjoy fig. I will definitely check out this new Malle thing. And in the past year or so, I have become a complete gardenia nut. I feel almost addicted to the scent. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and must get up and put on one of my gardenia scents (two of my faves at the moment are Estee Lauder’s Tuberose/Gardenia and Issabey’s Gardenia). This year my autumn scent of choice has been Amouage’s Lyric Woman. It is just fitting that autumny rich, deep, dark, red, warm feeling – just luscious and yummy comfort.

  • jen says:

    I’m stealing some of my hub’s Cumming today. Crepe de Chine tomorrow.

  • Kristen says:

    I like catalytic lamps (Lampe Berger) and have about 6. You can pay big bucks for them, or you can go to and purchase a kit to make one out of your own glass bottle (I found a fancy mosaic glass soap holder at TJMaxx) You can make your own fuel, but my experience is that it tends to clog the ceramic wick. I use commercial fuel–La Tee Da’s is about $9 and Lampe Berger charges $18.95. The scent is more subtle than a candle, but it does seem to kill odors in the house.

    • Kristen says:

      That’s not to say I don’t like candles, they are burning next to the catalytic lamp. I go through votives and tea lights by the dozen. I went to BBW for another Henri Bendel Firewood candle, but they don’t carry them anymore. I ended up buying a couple of their plugin scent diffusers called Wallflowers and a bunch of the fall scents like Spiced Cider and Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin. Now the garage and the attic smell good!

  • tammy says:

    I would have to say I have far more candles than bottles of perfume….we go through dozens of tapers and tea lights a week, and I probably burn through 4 or 5 Votivos a month. (They have discontinued my favorite one, the bas***ds!) This month we’re hitting DL&Co Opium Den and Día de los Muerto pretty hard, and have gone through 2 each.

    Perfumewise, I am rotating between my Fall favorites: Party in Manhattan, Sycamore, and By Killian Pure Oud. There is a teeny little sweet spot on my wrist where the remnants of PIM got caught up in the Killian…..mmmmmmmmmmm, highly recommend!

  • Anthony says:

    Hi, Patty! There are just too many fall scents- it seems like my wardrobe lies in wait of this time of year. So I’ll just write the first “unusual” suspects that come to mind…

    Fresh Cannabis Santal (I’m not as big a fan of this as I once was and like it on others more than myself but it always reminds me of fall with that sort of nutmeg sweetness it has)

    B*Men (yes, I wrote it… I think it’s great in fall! I always think of fallen leaves under my feet covering cold soil then walking into the house and smelling spicy autumn cooking)
    CdG Luxe Patchouli
    Tom Ford Amber Absolute and Tobacco Vanille
    PdN Maharadjah
    Goutal Ambre Fetiche

    And oh yes you know that I’m definitely interested in being in the draw. Thank you! :)

  • Kym says:

    Ideas for fall scents: Ormonde Jayne Woman, Tauer Incense Rose, VC&A Orchidee Vanille, SL Chergui. I can’t imagine that you, of all people, would need ideas — but there’s a couple of pedestrian thoughts. I, too, and a huge candle gal. Been into home scents for ages and recently purchased L’Artisan’s Amber Ball during the Barney’s bag event. It’s a beautiful ornament – but I find the scent to be oddly medicinal. Oh, well. I got the small-ish one, so I only get a waft of it once in a while.

  • Rowanhill says:

    I need to go and see that home scenting device. Now that I am running out of the lily scented juice for the birch stick diffusers, a sample of the lily fragrance would be fantastic. Please include me in the draw.

  • maggiecat says:

    I believe in scenting my environment every bit as much as I do scenting my body! My office even now has two candles (which i’m not allowed to burn) and a small diffuser. I have a candle collection at home that might be getting out of hand even for me, but that doesn’t keep me from buying more…. That’s why I love this blog – kindred spirits!

    Fall scents – Hmmm….I’m waiting to try the new Shalimar (and in the meantime, the Vanilla Anise Jo Malone is quite nice). Histoires de Parfum mata hari scent is a wonderful spicy fall fragrance, which my husband hates, sadly. Perhaps I can find it a good home. Chanel’s Coromandel is also excellent. Have fun!

  • DinaC says:

    My favorite fall scents are a bunch of classics, plus a couple of newbies: Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie, Sycomore, 31 Rue Cambon, Mitsouko, Silences, VC&A Bois d’Iris (kinda new), and Balenciaga Paris (also kinda new).

    While I adore perfume, home scents can sometimes give me an allergy attack. I’m looking at you, you horrible Yankee Candles and that ilk. I’ve successfully used the Thymes votives, though. At this point in my relatively new perfume hobby, I’d rather spend the big bucks on perfume for me. ;-)

  • Bev says:

    I’m curious Patty. Have you ever tried a “Lampe Berger?”

  • Musette says:

    Wow. My liver is aquiver just thinking about that hefty price! But your home must smell awesome!

    Right now my house smells like freshly-aired dog beds and mushroom compost. We are having gale-force winds but reasonable temps so I’m taking advantage of it. Every window in the house is open and I’ve cut into my work day to take every upholstered thing I can out onto the porch – won’t have many more opps for that until May.

    Then I will fire up the Lampe Berger with my bespoke mixture of bigarade, jasmine, bergamot and ylang eos.


    • Masha says:

      OOooo, that sounds lovely, Musette!

    • Ann N. says:

      Ooh, Anita, your Lampe Berger mix sounds dee-lightful! Have never used one of those but might need to investigate.

      • Musette says:

        They are great – I never use their mixtures (vaguely ‘off’ smelling) – I just use the neutral and throw a few drops of whatever eo I’m in the mood for.

        They have some gorgeous designs but I just use the regular old plain one (frosted glass) that I got in Minneapolis about 12 years ago! One LB will quietly scent 3 or 4 good sized rooms. And it is less aggravating to my sinuses than candles.

        beware, the website is slightly insane. But it looks like Atl has at least 5 shops. Wyoming has zip. Go figure. 8-|

        xo >-)

        xo >-)

  • Ann N. says:

    Hi Patty, cool post. Sounds like a very neat contraption, but I’ll have to stick with candles and diffusers for now. Which reminds me, I need to change my room diffusers to more fall-like scents but think it’s way too early (and too warm here yet) to break out the holiday-like piney-balsam ones. I have a new perfume love for the fall: Amouage Memoir for women. It’s the first one of that line I’ve tried that works with me and boy, does it ever! Wraps me in a wonderful smoky cloak of wood and warmth. Too bad it’s nearly 80 here today, but when temps hit the 50s and below, I’ll be in heaven. Please enter me in the draw; those scents sound great. Thanks!

  • maidenbliss says:

    Your home must smell so delicious!

    Vol de Nuit, Balmain Ambergris, Hermessence
    Ambre Narguile, Shalimar Extrait, Chanel CdR, MG Santal Noble, Lonestar. Vintage
    Coco just snagged off eBay.

  • Malena says:

    At this point I just can’t justify to spend money on home fragrance, even though I’d like to. Especially on floral scents, I bet the gardenia smells heavenly! I used to burn a lemon scented candle, but it was too mouthwatering to use on a regular basis.

    My favourite fall perfumes? At the moment that’s Guerlain Angelique Noire & (not very fall inspired, but gorgeous all year around) Vero Kern’s Rubj.

    Please enter me in the drawing :)

  • donanicola says:

    I’m a sucker for home fragrances too, Patty, so I love hearing of your explorations in the field. I use the lampe berger thingies with Patricia de Nicolai scents, my current one is the Miel and Incense and the Cafe de Paris in the kitchen every now and then. As well as candles. The cats have got used to them and no longer singe their whiskers/tails, clever things. I covet the Malle diffuser badly so would love to be in the draw. My suggestion for a fall scent is HdP’s L’Animale. The immortelle note is beautifully cosy at this time of year I find.

  • pam says:

    Considering we’re still in air-conditioning weather, I’m not quite to the Fall scent mentality. But with the leaves beginning to come down (this year they aren’t turning colors, they’re just falling), I seem to be pulling out the Guerlains. Mitsouko, Shalimar, and of course! L’Heure Bleue.

  • Isa says:

    Diptyque Tam Dao, Serge Lutens Five o’clock au gingembre, Maison de la Vanille Vanille Givrée des Antilles, YSL Opium Poésie de Chine, Gaultier 2 Eau d’Amour, Annayake Tsukimi, By Kilian Back to Black, ELDO Nombril Immense… All of them are great perfumes por fall/winter time :) Unfortunately, I don’t own full bottles of them all, just some.

    If I could only have three perfumes in my collection, Tam Dao will be one, that’s for sure.

  • Sherri M. says:

    Patty, Thank you for this article. I’m sure your home smells gorgeous! I love candles, and try very hard to find ones that everyone enjoys (I have a large family). Right now I have Diptyque’s Santal on the burner thingy. It’s very soft and nice with fairly good throw. But I’m not gonna lie: my kids love Yankee Buttercream candle the best! Yes, I know…you might have to take away my perfumista certificate… after all it is the Pink Sugar of the candle world! :-) It gives dh a migraine after so long (the Diptyques and Lady Primroses which I use in the living rooms and bedroom don’t, btw), but a few hours in the kitchen and everyone’s happy. Dh much prefers I scent the house with food, so I make a practice of sauteeing onions, mushrooms, whatever in butter as much as possible, and baking at least one thing each day, and making fragrant soups like French Onion. Also, in the fall I spray the dining room drapes with Shalimar. I like it better dried down on fabric than on myself.

    • Ruanne says:

      It’s okay- I like the buttercream too.
      And you reminded me- my husband’s *real* favorite home scent is roasting chicken. My dad’s is “When the onions hit the olive oil.” He used to call me into the kitchen for that golden moment.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    Did you know that there is a Black Box thingy by the French company Very (no, I hadn’t heard of them either) which looks beautiful and the 4 scents available are heavenly, but it costs something like £525 – seriously.

    I’m surprised that the Malle candles are so potent as a friend bought one and complained that there was no throw whatsoever, which is why I didn’t buy one.

    I don’t group my fragrances seasonally, probably because we have rather a rather temperate climate here in the UK. However, I have been wearing all my beloved vintage Guerlains even more than usual (Sahlimar, Mitsy, l’Heure Bleue especially) and all things amber, too. Nothing new there!

  • Joe says:

    Thanks for reviewing the Red Box Thingie. You’ve made me super curious about the Gardenia scent, though I love anything lily as well.

    Of course it hit 80 degrees today (Summer arrives here in October after a crappy, overcast June-Aug) but when “Fall” arrives I think I’m going to be wearing the hell out of this new Penhaligon’s Zizonia thing (sampled it for a week and decant just arrived today). Newly-acquired loves for the season include LA Bosphore and Lonestar Memories. For chilly nights, staples will include Chene, Borneo, and Myrrhe Ardente.

    • Masha says:

      I think it’s odd they released Bosphore in the fall, it seems so spring-summer to me. Tried it during a snowstorm, didn’t fit at all. Very lovely on a warm, sunny day, though.

      • Joe says:

        I think the sweet + leather would be a little much in very warm weather, but spring or fall both should be great.

  • Masha says:

    The red widget sounds fascinating, I want to know how it works. I’m sure they make one for European current. I use some natural incenses (some I make myself) around the house in winter, mostly the cinnamon/benzoin sort, and heat eos and absolutes in water in a cute ceramic thingy that’s powered by a tealight. Please enter me in the drawing!

    • Masha says:

      Oops, forgot to add, one of my all-time fall favorites is Gucci Homme, the original woods-and-incense version. Just enough smoke to be evocative, without being gag-inducing (don’t get me started on birch tar).

  • Daniela says:

    I’m still looking for my fall scent, so if you find one, let me know! I’ve been playing around with different decants that I purchased recently. From the completely season-inappropriate Bronze Goddess, to the squirrel-killing Mitsy, I’m still on the hunt for that perfect spicy-gourmand fall scent that just makes you want to snuggle into layers of scarves and sweaters. :)

    • Musette says:

      Squirrel-killing? 😮

      Did you KILL A SQUIRREL with Mitsouko? Day-amm!

      xo >-)

      ps. she is usually my go-to scent ’round now but every iteration of it smells like gasoline on me – looks like I’ll have to wait until it gets a tad colder.

  • Ruanne says:

    Seconding the Shalimar, which I wore out to dinner tonight, and adding OJ Tolu, which was my scent earlier today. Ambre Sultan & Une Bois Vanile are a couple of other fall favorites. Oh, and Lonestar Memories, which seems less weird in the fall.

    And I am a lover of home scents. Unfortunately, my husband only likes Nag Champa incense. Nothing else. Every candle, incense, or diffuser I offer up gets the same response “It’s fine. I still like Nag Champa better.”

  • Jarvis says:

    Do they make Saint des Saints for the Fleur Mécanique (aka “red box thingy”)? I am so in love with that scent. I have the rubber mats, but I want more…

    Fall means a steady rotation of Chanel Cuir de Russie, Bois des Îles, and Guerlain Plus Que Jamais for me. To that, I would add Cartier La Treizième Heure, which was absolutely lovely today.

  • Julie says:

    Arabie by Serge Lutens is one of my favorites – I wore it today – but I know it’s a love it or hate it kind of thing. Another fav for fall {or anytime) is Guerlain Shalimar, and then there is my favorite Tauer, L’Air du Desert Marocain…I could go on, but then my scent profile definitely suits heavier, richer, fall/winter fragrances…

    • Sherri M. says:

      I’ll chime in with a vote for Arabie, too! It smells exactly like the tack room of my grandparents’ barn growing up on the open (Hooflex, leather conditioner, Absorbine and whatever other barn smells), then dries down to the most gorgeous rich dried fruit and spice. It’s very strange but the first Serge I’ve found that I love (usually SL just slaps me around a bit, maybe sets off a migraine or a family member!) but this one is perfect.