Frederic Malle

Brand Portrait: Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

Editions de Parfums” can be translated from the French as “Perfume Publishing House” and that was exactly the arrangement Frédéric Malle had in mind. Just as a literary publisher provides an opportunity and infrastructure to enable his authors to write, Malle wanted to offer his perfumers full freedom to express themselves.

Frédéric Malle grew up in a family involved in perfumery: his grandfather Serge Heftler founded Parfums Christian Dior. He then worked in the industry himself for years, starting in 1986 at the prestigious perfume creation labs of Roure Bertrand Dupont. Through these experiences he has a deep knowledge of the raw materials used in perfumes and a strong sense of olfactory balance. Malle is an “evaluator”, the insider’s term for the specialist who draws on his understanding of fragrance structure and accords to critique a fragrance composition.

Perfumers call on him to assess their works in progress and to exchange ideas. His involvement depends on the project and ranges from total non-intervention to sleeves-rolled-up creative partnerships with the noses.

Fragrance development with Malle is a drawn-out process, typically lasting between 6 and 18 months. Starting from a general idea – an olfactory “sketch” reflecting an emotion, for example, or a mix of two or three raw materials as if they were colors in an abstract painting – the perfumer gradually builds a full-scale composition, tinkering and problem-solving until a perfect balance is achieved. The challenge is to polish and perfect without losing the impact and personality of the original idea.

“Eliminate all that niis superfluous, merely decorative” – that is Frédéric Malle’s personal obsession and really the only rule he imposes on the house perfumers. He also requests that each fragrance be designed to embrace the body of each wearer rather than just be a “pretty scent.”

Despite Frédéric Malle’s strong ideas and because Editions de Parfums was created to allow each perfumer the fullest expression of his or her creative ideas and the house perfumers are themselves forceful individuals, their work does not add up to a defined house style. Just the opposite – their creations are of a striking diversity.