On the eve of the MINE dinner to celebrate man of the moment Frédéric’s Malle and his inimitable luxury fragrance brand, we look at four industry influencers and also some of his biggest fans...
ALICE DU PARCQ
Writing for Vogue, Glamour, Stylist, The Sunday Times, the Telegraph and CN Traveller, Alice has amassed a wealth of knowledge of the fragrance world.
How did your love of fragrance begin?
I had a consultation with Guerlain training director Richard Hawkins, to find my wedding perfume. He tapped into my memories of summers at my grandparents’ house in France. All the smells I adore originated in their garden: the steamy-sweet wisteria, the nutty, dusty gravel driveway, the addictive, patisserie-dough warmth of orange blossoms in the evening... I had been subconsciously absorbing those smells for years, and began smelling perfume in an entirely different way.
It didn’t matter whether I personally liked a fragrance. What mattered was the creative process, and the perfumers’ instinctive feel for a balanced scent while fusing volatile chemistry with emotion.
That’s why people describe fragrance as an art: like a musician, painter, chef, graphic designer or plastic surgeon, a perfumer must understand of his tools, use his experience to make each one excel and combine them into a masterpiece that they are proud of, but that isn’t selfish. And know when to stop!
What do you enjoy about his fragrances?
I was having a meeting in a café on a really hectic corner bustling with the collective fug of people, traffic and food. Yet there it was, sharp as an arrow: velvety rose and narcotic patchouli. I said, loud enough for the wearer to hear, ‘Someone’s wearing Portrait of a Lady.’ And this stranger and I connected through the utter magnificence of this scent, chatting as if we had known each other for years. It was such a rare moment of appreciation in a busy day. I felt energised. As she left, she said, ‘You have completely turned my day around, I feel incredible.’ His perfumes unite and ignite.
Hannah is a London-based luxury influencer and model who shares her vision of style through Instagram and her blog.
What inspires you to wear fragrance?
I wear it when I’m happy, when I’m sad, in summer or winter, daytime or nighttime. Without it, I feel naked. From my late teens, for about ten years, I largely wore only one fragrance. People would say they would know I was in the room even if they were blindfolded. In my late twenties, I started to wear the odd new perfume that reminded me of periods in the last decade. I find scent very emotive: it gives me a happy, almost déjà vu feeling.
In the same way that clothes define my style, the same is true for the fragrance I wear. It’s part of what you express to the outside world. Do you want to smell fresh, alluring or mesmerising? It’s part of the whole picture.
What do you love about the brand?
What isn’t there to love? The packaging, the beautiful notes and the longevity... But, for me, it’s that feeling of luxury and decadence. They are somehow magnetic. But, more than anything, the uniqueness of the scents. Nothing compares to each one.
When I was pregnant, my favourite was Eau de Magnolia. But my favourite is Carnal Flower. I love the heady rich scent, which just oozes luxury and warmth and is hypnotic. There’s nothing even remotely similar.
Gigi, Cara, Poppy and even David Beckham go to Larry for their precious locks. The king of cool and classic cuts, he knows a thing or two (or ten) about how to wear your hair.
What grabs your attention about the world of fragrance?
Working in fashion and beauty means I can see the relationship between fragrance and style. A scent speaks as much as a good pair of shoes or a well-tailored suit. It adds something unique.
Do you like your wife to wear fragrance?
Absolutely. We share a lot of fragrances. Some days we even wear the same fragrance to meetings, as part of our joint brand.
How did you discover Frédéric?
I smelled Portrait of a Lady on a client and asked what it was. It’s such a sexy, sophisticated fragrance and I wanted to buy it for my wife. His fragrances are individual and unique. I like that everyone doesn’t automatically know what they are. The fragrances feel timeless but also new and different. And the identity of each perfumer comes through in each one.
What qualities do you admire in a perfumer?
It’s a real fine art. It’s one thing to pick out notes in a fragrance but the bit that amazes me is their artistic ability to select and mix the undertones that come through in hints, making the individuality of each fragrance.
Passionate about hospitality, the managing director at Corinthia Hotel London is known as an international aesthete with a sharp eye for detail.
What does fragrance mean to you both professionally?
In hospitality, it’s important that a fragrance, whether it be from food, beverage, flowers, candles or scent, does not overpower a guest’s experience. A fragrance should only ever add to their stay in a subtle and imperceptible way.
Scent is hugely important in creating an environment. It sets the mood and helps build an atmosphere. At Corinthia Hotel London, our in-house florist – Javier Salvador of By Appointment Only Design – has designed a bespoke fragrance. Each room has a candle, with notes of sweet orange, lavender and palmarosa to comfort, calm and rebalance guests’ senses. I love scented candles at home too.
Do different nationalities think differently about fragrance?
Cultures differ in the meaning and importance they attach to the different senses; especially so in the case of smell. Across the Middle East, fragrance is much more ingrained in culture and we are often greeted by some our esteemed guests by their perfume: magnificent combinations of incense, vetiver and oud.
In contrast, our North American guests love notes like vanilla and soft fruits. The French are brave enough to wear spicy statement scents but, as you move down to southern Europe, fresh Mediterranean notes of neroli and citrus are customary.