Instant gratification doesn’t always equal the greatest olfactory reward. Overturning that love-at-first-sniff moment, perfume’s master curator Frédéric Malle suggests why the slow burning scents might be worth a second spritz…
A LOT OF PERFUME SHOPPING IS GEARED TOWARDS THE QUICK FIX. HOW CAN WE BECOME MORE PATIENT WHEN TRYING NEW PERFUMES AND DRAW OUT THEIR DELIGHTS OVER TIME?
Never look for an instant reward. Otherwise you are shopping for the tune of the summer – you like the song for two weeks and then you never want to hear it again. Take a moment to think about who you are. How do you want to come across? Once you understand this, you are in a good place to judge a fragrance.
The few that you like the best, wear on your arm. Twenty minutes later, do you still see yourself smelling like that for weeks? When you are alone with the smell without the imagery, without the packaging, do you still feel the same way? If you are true to yourself, then you will find something that is really going to radiate.
IS FALLING IN LOVE WITH A DIFFICULT PERFUME ABOUT A MOMENT OF REVELATION OR A SLOWLY ACQUIRED INTIMACY?
It can be both. Some fragrances require time to understand, but once you have been touched by their addictive nature you can’t leave them. Sometimes you fall in love at first sight but then it’s difficult to sustain. When you fall in love over time the slow burners can be very powerful.
WHAT IS IT IN THE WRITING OF CERTAIN FRAGRANCES OF YOURS THAT MEANS WE NEED TIME TO GET TO KNOW THEM?
If you think of fragrances like dresses, some are easy to wear every day, whereas others are almost part of another era. Anything that references the past can be hard for people to bring into their world. For example, with our Une Fleur de Cassie, it was really a scent of the late 1920s, early ’30s, when culture and the arts were moving towards surrealism. There is a smell to it that demands exploration and unmuzzling.
TELL US ABOUT A FRAGRANCE OUTSIDE YOUR EDITIONS THAT TOOK YOU A WHILE TO APPRECIATE.
Mitsouko by Guerlain. It comes from another world, a relic of amazing elegance from the past. You are first intrigued so as not to be dismissive, then you question yourself about the risk of enjoying something you do not understand. But then, when the appreciation clicks, it is a secret kind of love that becomes personal. Only you know why or can explain it.