Sophia Grojsman, Our Lady of the aldeidic flowers, undisputed Queen of FWGS (Feminines With Great Sillage) like White Linen, Vanderbilt, Yvresse, Calyx, Paris, Tresor, Eternity. She was on holiday, only a phone call away, and I was really tempted to ask Monsieur Malle to call her, I would've told her live how I admire her work. She would’ve felt my excitement: because one of the first fragrances in my wishlist, between childhood and adolescence, was her White Linen; because my mother had been wearing her Paris for years, because the first fragrance I was given by a man (well, a boy ) was her Eternity...
But in the end I decided not to; I was afraid that meeting two individuals like Frederic and Sophia, in a single day, could cause me a heart attack, it was already hard trying to cope with Monsieur Malle’s charm...
I share a thought with him: scent is not a necessary item, so if I can spend 80 euros for a mass marketed perfume of questionable quality, I can well spend 100 for a real gem, isn’t it? Maybe I'll buy less, but they’ll be exceptional. I believe his line sells a lot ... does quality pay?
He confirms that fragrances are sold well in all countries where they are distributed: the "magnificent six" of the line are Bigarade and Bigarade Concentrèe, Musc Ravageur, Lipstick Rose, French Lover, Vetiver Extraordinaire; in Asia Une Rose is a hit, while in USA it’s more Carnal Flower.
"And even if a couple of perfumes in the line sell less then the others, who cares? My goal is not to follow trends or copy what others do. I make classics. I will never stop producing them. Also for a sense of respect towards those who - a few or many, no matter- love them and wear them.”
What do you wear?
Lately, Geranium Pour Monsieur
What are you moved by?
"Beauty, in any form: a beautiful song by the Rolling Stones or classical music (he listens a lot), movies (of course). Besides, female beauty, sex appeal is able to move me".
I sense that Monsieur is fascinated by women, and I can say this fascination is definitely reciprocated. I carefully observe him moving around, speaking with others, and I realize that elegance in his ways is far from affectation, is more an output of culture, of living in gentleness, of having understood that Beauty can feed the spirit.
And so I ask him: we see the quality of the mass-marketed perfumes steadily decreasing, while quality of exclusive lines is skyrocketing. Poor perfumes and real gems are launched at the same time, sometimes they share the same brand… What do you think of this?
"This phenomenon is affecting the whole market, not just perfume, because it affects all of society. There’s people who prefer eating well, reading well (smell good, but this addition is mine) and so on, and people who are happy with five cellphones and eat only junk food. Today’s society gives people the opportunity to choose how they want to live, and this is not a bad thing".
(And by this answer, he shows he’s much less snobbish then me).
Sometimes my readers ask me how they can recognize what is beautiful from what is not, what is valuable from what is not, and I usually suggest to learn, to smell, study… today, knowledge=power.
"Yes, but you first need to be curious. Curiosity moves knowledge, curiosity pushes us to get informed, to look for more insights. Today curiosity makes the difference".
How do you see the future of your Editions des Parfums?
"Well ... (smiles) I don’t know yet! Pierre Bourdon and Edouard Fléchier are close to retirement, Jean Claude Ellena has still much to say but he’s not so young anymore and me…I have more or less 15 years of work; not that much. The future challenge will be to find young composers to continue the line". As we speak he gets up and starts wandering in the store, among perfume bottles; we smell a few scents, random. He asks me what I think, he comments but then shakes his head… it will be a difficult task, finding the next author to join his fragrant Publishing House.
Mr. Malle, thank you again for giving me a very long time, patience and insights; I feel all this as a precious gift.
And endless thanks to Guido of "Profumo" store (Via Brera, Milan) for his foresight, passion and kindness. Guido, you rock!
This article originates here
Editions des Parfums Frederic Malle website