When Malle creates a perfume, he pictures the person who would wear it. For Géranium Pour Monsieur, he thinks of the Italian director, Luchino Visconti, and the drummer of Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts
Frédéric Malle and the perfumers: the collaboration with Dominique Ropion
Frédéric Malle says his relationship with perfumers is similar to that between a Publisher and Editor. Dominique Ropion, Edouard Fléchier, Sophia Grojsman, among the many – Malle gives them the freedom to do what they want. Sometimes they may want to hear what Malle has to say and sometimes they don’t. Géranium pour Monsieur was created in 2009. Frédéric Malle asked nose, Dominique Ropion, to create a fragrance with reference to Eau De Botot, a mouth wash used by Malle’s father. Malle and Ropion both thought that this particular smell could influence some of their future perfumes. «One day, I was having lunch with Dominique. We then went to a pharmacy to buy Eau de Botot. Cause maybe if you put something else on it, we can create a perfume». And thus, the perfume was created.
Frédéric Malle likens perfume production with Dominique Ropion with playing jazz and jamming together. When jamming together, jazz musicians typically try different sounds and arrangements together. This is similar to what a perfumer does. They mix more than one material and keep exploring until they find the scent that appeals to them. Malle checks every single trial, one by one, with attention to detail. The relationship during the process is fairly reciprocal: Malles gives his comments to the perfumers and they give their comments to him. «So, you know, Carnal Flower? I smelled 690 trials».
Géranium Pour Monsieur, Frédéric Malle
Géranium Pour Monsieur, as the name implies, has a lot of geraniums inside. It is in fact the top note of the perfume. Then, it is elongated with sandalwood, the base note. It is mint – amnesic, yet floral because of the geraniums. When Malle creates a perfume, he pictures the person who would wear it. For Géranium Pour Monsieur, he thinks of the Italian director, Luchino Visconti, and the drummer of Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts. He mentioned: «I was thinking of more of a post mid style. I was thinking of Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer. I had a style in mind. As the bell grows, you go from the mint, and green, to Géranium, like bright pink when you smell in color. And then it fades a lot of sandalwood and benzyl».
Frédéric Malle – memories of a scent: Luchino Visconti, Charlie Watts
Frédéric Malle’s earliest memory of a scent was his mother’s perfume – Miss Dior. He recalled his relationship with scents. When they would go to a garden, his mother would pay attention to the smell rather than the visual aesthetic of the flowers. It is therefore not a surprise to learn that his mother worked in the perfumery. This was how he was first introduced to the world of perfumes.
In 2000, Malle founded his brand. He points our that in that period, celebrity perfumes were all the rage. Yet, they just carried a marketing image with no actual scent. Therefore, he wanted to make sure that the inside of the container was worth the value of the product; the smell. When he creates fragrances with perfumers, they always build an image of it in their heads. For example, a photo of the person that they would expect to smell like the perfume. «We had to produce our imagery, and I know that when I make a perfume, I always have an image of someone in my head, who is a match. Sometimes it’s an actor, someone well-known».
Design of the bottles: Attention to content
Malle comes up with the names of his perfumes by himself. The names are crucial as they connect to the content of the bottles. The actual containers of his perfumes, however, do not say anything. They are made from heavy glass. This minor details is what Ames the names even more important. The name Géranium Pour Monsieur, for example, directly implicates the flower, geranium. «Still, it is a flower, so it is told as feminine, although it is not as a rose in femininity. Then I have ‘monsieur’, so you create the contrast. You have the contrast of the perfume; you have the nature of the perfume, which is the geranium».
The bottles are designed to draw attention to the inside. Malle wanted to make sure that the designs of the bottles don’t necessarily dictate the content of it. One could easily contain Géranium Pour Monsieur as it could Cologne Indelible, Musc Ravageur or Portrait of a Lady. He chose red for the packaging boxes because it references a specific publishing house in France. One that was well-known for publishing the same book cover for all their books: off-white/beige, red, and black. Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle was the first to use these colors.
Frédéric Malle – inspiration Journey
Malle mentioned that cities do not inspire him. «We get inspired by details of life, flowers that we see, by the smell of people». Nature inspires him. The flowers. They work on the scent, a pen in one hand and the flower in the other. The only thing a city does, when traveling from city to city, the air changes. So, the scents are slightly different from one place to the other. The headquarter is in Paris, but Malle lives in New York. Being in New York allows him to concentrate on the scents in detail.
The Future of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle
«I’m waiting for the future», Malle said. The new generation who grew up with Frédéric Malle’s perfumery has high hopes. The future of the company depends on young people. He wants to pass on his knowledge to the new generation. «I look forward to the revolution Biotech. Biotech is going to come up. It’s touching perfumery now, and it will come up with many new raw materials. That’s as many combinations. New flowers. These raw materials will generate tastes and generations of perfumes». Malle wants to move forward without looking back. He is available to possibilities, whatever they may bring.
Find Your Perfume, Fuorisalone Installation in MUDEC
Frédéric Malle participated in Milan Design Week 2022 with the installation, Find Your Perfume. Since the beginning, Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle has been a company that aims to create a perfume that fits a specific person’s personality traits. The staff in the stores decrypts a person’s personality. However, on the website, there is no staff to help the customers find the perfume they desire. The Greek painter and multimedia artist, Konstantin Kakanians, is a close friend of Frédéric Malle. He designed a game in which people have the freedom to choose from the illustrations, which shoes to wear, which clothes they would like to choose for a night out, the car and even down to their underwear.
«I thought maybe people could tell what they look like. What they think they look like or want to look like is even better. Because you cannot buy a Ferrari or an haute couture dress if you do not have much money, you can buy an haute couture perfume. It is much more affordable. You can afford to dream with us». For Milan Design Week 2022, a perfume consultation was built outside the museum MUDEC. The installation is a result from Kakanians and Malle’s observations, aiming to match people to the right perfume.