Dan Rolleri attended Frédéric Malle's June 17th event at Barneys San Francisco.
Frédéric Malle was such a fabulous speaker and a real presence in Barney's dank perfume basement. He has actual star appeal.
A young man asked Frédéric his thoughts about layering. At first he said, "I only recommend it if the person doing the layering is very skilled." Then he said he's smelled many attempts at layering and "they're never very skilled. It always smells awful."
He explained how skilled his perfumers are, how much time it takes to create a perfume, how complex the creations are, and how they deserve to stand alone. Then he brought up Escentric Molecules, how that line is making money by presenting a single popular ingredient, they aren't truly perfumes, and he dismissively said, "If you want to layer those, I suppose it's fine."
He came back to proper perfumes and said he's "generally opposed to layering." Then he paused and said, "I'm very opposed to it."
|Frédéric Malle: not opposed to layering his arms.|
Frédéric made a special point to say that when his perfumes require some slight modification, he ALWAYS involves the original perfumer. He said it at least twice and, at first, I thought it was strange to emphasize such a thing, that of course he'd involve the original perfumer. Then I remembered that recent Grain de Musc post about fragrance houses bastardizing formulas of their established perfumes in order to retain ownership.
When someone buys a bottle of Dior Homme, s/he would rightfully assume it's Dior Homme by Olivier Polge, and not a reformulation by someone else. In the larger scheme of things, the world has more pressing problems, but this sort of thing makes me a little angry. And, once again, Frédéric Malle has emerged a hero. A hero in a blue linen suit. What a thing.
Because I was so charmed by the whole event, I bought two bottles: En Passant for my friend Diane (for letting me drag her along) and L'Eau d'Hiver for me (for letting me drag me along).
More with Malle in Part One
Bonus extra: check out Frédéric Malle's swanky NYC digs in Architectural Digest