"Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle" is the first perfume in the new "XXX par Frederic Malle" line, where FM will offer the olfactory portraits of people of international renown whom he particularly appreciates.
Dries Van Noten, the first of the series, is a Belgian fashion designer for a long time in contact with Frederic Malle: not only he was among the first customers of Editions des Parfums when the store opened in Paris in 2000, but also sells FM's fragrances in his boutiques.
The two couturier then decided to collaborate more closely in the creation of a scent that would bring both signatures, and this collaboration sounded as a double challenge: Dries Van Noten had the chance to launch a fragrance under his brand, passing in a moment from being one of the few designers with no fragrance at all, to co-launching one with the most creative, edgy and refined perfume house in the world (a bit like when Cinderella goes from barefoot to crystal shoes...).
For FM, however the challenge was to move from a two (FM and his authors) to a threesome by involving DVN (and his marketing, press office and all the rest) in the creative process. The challenge is won on both sides, the scent is interesting and you can't fail to note the influence of a "third party" on the final composition. Despite DVN has not submitted a brief or chosen the notes, the fact that the work portrays a person and his style has obviously oriented the creativity in a clearly perceptible way. Here lies the difference among the "regular" EPFM line and this new line.
Inside "Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle" then, there is more that DVN than FM, more of chic minimalism and less of chic eccentricity, and this makes me think that probably "XXX par Frederic Malle" is not aimed to "hard-core" fans of FM fragrances. Probably it will intrigue those who don't buy niche fragrances because they don't know them or think they're not interested. They might be driven by the name of the famous couturier and buy the perfume for that reason only, oblivious to the fact that once you become accustomed to the best, the nose is no longer able to go back to mediocrity.
Evidently Monsieur Malle is a pioneer to the core: 12 years ago he was the first to put composers under spotlight, starting the recognition process that makes normal for us to ask "Whose creation is this?" meaning the composer and not the brand; every niche brand has then followed his example and finally composers came out of the shadows where corporations used to hide them. Even big industrial brands now have on women's magazines that behind their recent success there are Alberto Morillas or Olivier Cresp!
When the new "XXX par Frederic Malle" will prove successful, many actors in the niche market will once more follow FM's example and begin to offer celebrity scents (indeed, to tell the truth someone has already tried: ELDO with "Like This" created with actress Tilda Swinton). And until they'll launch interesting compositions with something to tell, I'm going to absolutely enjoy them. The problem will arise when some perfume will not live up to those who have made it, but we'll see when it happens.
Oh, I almost forgot: how is "Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle" like? It's a surprisingly sophisticated and delicate oriental, characterized by a linear, quiet, no-nonsense aura (short formula) featuring a creamy, biscuit-like note (real sandalwood from sustainable sources: a rarity!) binding in a very balanced and slightly gourmand way white musks and a bunch of muted spices.
Go to definitely try it!