What luxury smells like
Frederic Malle, the founder of Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is engaging — even though the cocky arrogance surrounding his words can come across as obnoxious and off-putting. But he has what it takes to back it all up.
Malle was born into perfumery. His grandfather, Serge Heftler-Louiche, was one of the pioneers behind the Dior perfume brand, while his mother was a long-time employee there. Malle worked at the Roure Bertrand Dupont perfume laboratories — now known as Givaudan — before starting out on his own in 2000.
In 12 years, he has created a successful olfactory empire, one that only “works with the right perfumers”. (He is not trained as a perfumer despite his family background and experience working in the labs.)
“I work with people that I admire,” he told Style:MEN when he was here to launch the brand at Malmaison by The Hour Glass. “They have to be on the same wavelength as me in terms of luxury.”
That explains why the perfumers that Malle has collaborated with are the crème de la crème of the industry — think Jean-Claude Ellena, Dominique Ropion, Edmond and Michel Roudnitska. “We’re a ‘publishing house’ for noses. I came from the trade, and worked in a lab. So, I put the perfumers forward.” And Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, he insists, is not a niche brand but a luxury one. He refuses to be grouped with the small perfume ateliers out there, stressing that only Serge Lutens and himself are in the same league.
Perfumers working with Editions de Parfums are given the freedom to create what they want. “We don’t give any limits. They have the time, and we have
the money. What we try to create
is a real luxury brand,” says Malle. “Of course, we can’t go crazy [spending on ingredients] for the sake of being crazy. Most people spend the money on hiring people to represent the scent. Instead of spending on a bimbo for an advertisement, I put it in the bottle.” It takes guts to say that. And Malle has lots of that.