Perfumer Frederic Malle says all about his new creation Cologne Indélébile.
Exclusive interview of French master perfumer Frédéric Malle by Laurence Hovart on the occasion of the launch of his new creation, Cologne Indélébile. Illustration by François Berthoud.
A good perfume, like a good novel, is an artwork unto itself. In 2000, Frédéric Malle decided to pay homage to today’s great noses by founding an olfactive “publishing house.” Fifteen years later, 22 new perfumes have been born, of which the most recent is Cologne Indélébile. Numéro met up with him.
“I’ve always fantasized over girls. They each have their own smell. In my bestiary, there are all sorts of French girls and American girls, whence the names of my perfumes in either language. Behind each one, there’s always the idea of a woman and a sensual relationship,” explains Frédéric Malle. If, back in 2008, he confessed to Numéro that, “As a young man I was hopelessly in love with girls… I wasn’t at all attractive, so I had absolutely no success with them,” today he can luxuriate in his revenge, since women all over the world have sniffed his fragrances or, better still, worn his name on their necks.
Numéro: All great perfumes evoke lust. It would seem that each of your bestsellers has a strong and bold sexual side?
Frédéric Malle: Ours is the oldest craft in the world. The big successes in the history of perfume all had a strong erotic charge, including the most falsely clean. Dior’s Eau Sauvage, for example, is a leather composition based around an overdose of patchouli and cumin, which aren’t there for nothing. Among our bestsellers (Portrait of a Lady, Musc Ravageur, Carnal Flower…), that particular message is very clear.
Your latest creation, Cologne Indélébile, plays on a note of false innocence…
Yes indeed. Its very particular musky base is the same as that of Géranium pour Monsieur and of Portrait of a Lady, also by Dominique Ropion, but we worked on it to exaggerate its ambivalence. If Portrait tends towards the dark side of patchouli, with rose and amber notes, Cologne Indélébile is just simply a delicious and sensual lover, with neroli and white orange blossom. What’s interesting is that white musks are associated with babies and cleanliness, because washing powder and body-care products use them. And yet, inspired by animal musk, they’re an aphrodisiac in the perfumer’s palette. When you smell them, your brain thinks of purity and innocence while your unconscious is yelling “sex”!
Read the full article in issue 163 of Numéro, currently available at newsstands and on the iPad.
By Laurence Hovart
Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, 37, rue de Grenelle, Paris 7th. www.fredericmalle.com.