There is much more to perfumery than bottled up scents. Perfumery is about expression, narratives and memories. The bottle itself is an art piece by the perfumery, the same way a painting is to a painter and a book is to a writer. As you may have learned from a previous interview we did with another niche perfume house, the biggest problem in the fragrance industry is not giving the artists the credit they deserve. That and the restraints on perfumers in creating to their heart's desire.
These sentiments are, of course, shared by premium French perfume house Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle, the namesake of its founder and "perfumer editor" Frédéric Malle. Thailand Tatler caught up with the brand's export manager, Maxime Daulouede, on his recent visit to Bangkok to once again venture deep into the world of scent at its best.
Tell us about the founder of Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle.
Frédéric Malle is the founder, the perfume editor. He gives freedom to world-class perfumers without limitation of any kind, which results in the collection of 24 perfumes. Each perfume is considered a liquid piece of art because it is an uncompromising approach and expression of perfumer’s personality.
What is the role of a "perfume editor"?
Frédéric’s job as the editor is to put the perfumers at the forefront of the creation. Before 2000, before Editions de Parfums de Frédéric Malle, perfumes were the works of ghost artists. Nobody knew about Carlos Benaïm, Ralf Schwieger or Bruno Jovanovic. Frédéric gave them the success they deserved by putting their names on each of their bottles. It is the only brand where the artists actually signs the bottles, like any author or artist would on his work.
Another thing about Frédéric is that he challenges the perfumers through the entire perfume-making process. He is like a film director. He brings out the very best of each perfumers.
Can you tell us more about how the Frédéric Malle curates the pieces for his collection?
We consider each perfume as a great classic of tomorrow. When curating perfumes Frédéric has three criterias. First, sex-appeal of the perfume. He asks himself, "is the perfume sensual enough to trigger intense emotions?" Then the comfort of the perfume—"is the perfume comfortable enough throughout the course of its evaporation?" And third, "is this perfume timeless?" Does this perfume have the potential to become a great classic of tomorrow.
Can you tell us about the scent are you wearing now?
This perfume was created by Dominique Ropion. His way of working is always the same: balancing a massive amount of raw material—in this case, vetiver from Haiti, the most expensive vetiver in the world—with small dosages of chemically altered ingredients. For Vétiver Extraordinaire he used a technique called molecular distillation, which enables perfumers to pick some facets of the raw material and remove others. Vetiver, naturally, has a dusty, earthy smell to it. With this technique, the dusty smell was removed to make a well balanced scent. This is also the most concentrated vetiver scent in the market, with 27 per cent of vetiver. It took two years and a half to be created through 569 trials.
How to properly wear perfume?
First of all it depends on the number of people you want to smell you, the sillage. If you want more sillage I would say first wear it on clothes because the retention power is the highest. Also the hair has greater retention power than the skin.
What is perfumery to you?
For me, perfumery is savoir-faire. It's heritage and also technology because having just savoir-faire and heritage doesn't mean you are producing the best product. And perfumery is luxury. Good perfumes need good raw materials and technology—all of that has a price.