The Frédéric Malle Perfume Summit is a gathering of some of the world’s most legendary perfumers in conversation with the man who revolutionised the fragrance industry…
It’s not too much to claim that the reason you know the name of the person who who created your favourite fragrance, is because of Frédéric Malle.
In 2000, at the turn of the millennium, Frédéric Malle launched his fragrance collection, Les Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle. He’s not a nose – although Frédéric grew up immersed in the world of perfumery: he is the grandson of Serge Heftler-Louiche, who created the Parfums Christian Dior line.
Malle‘s idea was to give perfumers free rein to create the fragrance of their dreams. But what was truly innovative was his decision to put their names on the bottle. Until then, most perfumers had been well-kept secrets, working behind the scenes in their labs and – except on a few occasions – remaining anonymous, while the perfume house (or the fashion designer) enjoyed all the credit.
As part of their on-going 20th anniversary celebrations, Frédéric Malle organised a round-table Perfume Summit – a fascinating conversation with some of the perfumers Malle worked with – Jean-Claude Ellena, Pierre Bourdon, Maurice Roucel, Anne Flipo and Dominique Ropion – that takes a deep dive in to the history of their creation and the inspiration behind them.
We suggest settling down and watching this so-interesting discussion – perhaos smelling along with the film if you own several of the fragrances, or focussing on your favourite. And if you’ve yet to explore the range of fragrances – which truly are modern masterpieces and something everyone should try at least once in their lives! – then oh boy, are you in for a treat.
Even if you’ve tried several of the scents, it’s so interesting to seek out those you’d perhaps previously overlooked or don’t know so well; especially after hearing the perfumers talk about them so eloquently.
It seems incredible that not that long ago, a mere handful of us knew the names of perfumers. Now? Some of them have virtual rock-star status in the scent world. What an incredible twenty years it has been – and what will the next twenty bring for Frédéric Malle…? We cant wait to find out!
We caught up with Olivier Gillotin, the perfumer behind Ralph Lauren’s Polo Red Rush fragrance, for an exclusive Q&A and a sneak peek behind the scenes of his inspiration for creating the scent…
Q1. What was your inspiration behind POLO RED RUSH?
In designing the Polo Red Rush fragrance, I was inspired by the acceleration, elation and intensity during the very beginning of a race. I wanted to translate the rush of those never-ending first seconds into the fragrance. To achieve this vision, it needed to bring an immediate, intense freshness. Two ingredients inspired me at first: red mandarin for an impulsive, crispy start, then fresh mint for its energizing power.
Q2. How would you describe the way POLO RED RUSH smells?
I like to describe Polo Red Rush as an energetic red water – a fresh water tinted with crisp, energizing red notes. The citrus top notes (red mandarin, red grapefruit, lemon and pineapple) complement the spearmint mid note for an immediate fresh effect. The scent evolves on the skin with facets of red saffron while orange flower adds a masculine watery fluidity. Finally, a vibrant burst of roasted red coffee is streamlined with Cedarwood, bringing a new sleekness and elevating the background with an enamoring trail of woody musk.
Q3. How does POLO RED RUSH fit into the POLO RED franchise?
Polo Red Rush takes the franchise to the next level, capturing the sensations of speed, seduction and freedom. With its fresh, invigorating and surprising association of citrusy mint and cedarwood, Polo Red Rush perfectly rounds out the Polo Red portfolio.
Q4. What are the main differences between POLO RED, POLO RED EXTREME AND POLO RED RUSH?
Polo Red Rush is a crisp, energetic new interpretation of the original Polo Red. It elevates a spiced, cool watery freshness and bold red citrus profile. Spearmint from Morocco joins as a new bracing and dynamic element. Coffee notes play a supporting role to enhance a sleekly sensual dry-down with cedarwood and musk.
Q5. How did you choose the key notes for POLO RED RUSH? What makes the olfactive structure so intriguing?
Polo Red Rush masters a high proportion of saffron that is paired up with citrusy mint. I chose to elevate saffron for its unique and vibrant character able to unveil a fascinating fresh-spicy facet. Mint – saffron is an unusual and surprising association that creates a fresh yet intense and refined energy. Both ingredients fit perfectly well and complement each other.
Q6. Were there any special techniques or stand-out ingredients used to achieve your vision for POLO RED RUSH?
The creation process has been a construction – deconstruction “game”. My original intention was to design the ultimate experience of fresh energy for the Polo Red thrill-seeker. After translating this idea into fragrance, I deconstructed the formula to clearly identify and highlight its best facets – crisp and citrusy mint, cedarwood, saffron. I then removed all unnecessary ingredients to maintain the most relevant ones and to develop the fragrance in a fresh, unique and refined way.
Q7. What makes POLO RED RUSH so crisp and energizing?
Polo Red Rush has everything of a fresh water putting the emphasis on citrus and mint. In addition to that, I highly elevated saffron, as a powerful red spice imbued with fresh intensity and a key ingredient for the franchise. The combination of citrusy mint and saffron create this unique crisp and energizing freshness.
Q8. You’ve often described how the color red inspires you. How did you channel that inspiration into an entirely different olfactive experience for POLO RED RUSH?
For each Polo Red fragrance, I ensured that the smell brought to mind the color red. Polo Red and Polo Red Extreme respectively focused on the symbolic of seduction and power. With Polo Red Rush, I wanted to explore another strong and explicit meaning: energy. It inspired me to design a red water acting like a booster. This red water needed to be olfactively infused with the positive and stimulating energy of the color to be able to master a never ending rush.
Ralph Lauren Polo Red Rush £55 for 75ml eau de toilette
Try it at debenhams.com
As it’s International Women’s Day, can we take a moment to collectively cheer the world’s first recorded chemist – a woman named Tapputi – and a perfume maker whose existence we only know about thanks to being recorded on a 1200 BCE Cuneiform tablet, found in Babylonian Mesopotamia.
Tapputi was granted the title “Belatikallim” which suggests she was regarded as a high-ranking scientist, and her role would have held great sway in both the Mesopotamian government and their religion, because she was overseer of the Mesopotamian Royal Palace.
But think of a perfumer or famous ‘nose’ now and, chances are, the picture that comes to most peoples’ mind is a man in a white lab coat, or – if you’re more romantically inclined – a man in a velvet jacket plucking rose petals at sunrise and being struck by artistic inspiration. My point is: it’s probably still a man you’re thinking of.
In the Fashion, Feminism & Fragrance edition of our magazine, The Scented Letter, we devoted the issue to looking back to the women we have to thank for shaping the way we smell today, and focussing on the current crop of women perfumers shaking up the scent world.
Here, we pay tribute to just some of these remarkable and talented women, and urge you to seek out their work as a way celebrating International Women’s Day 2019…
Daniela Andrier’s CV now stretches endlessly: triumphs include Bottega Veneta Knot, the daring Maison Martin Margiela Untitled and Guerlain’s Angélique Noire – but the name which continually crops up on her list of creations is that of Prada. She clearly has a fantastic working relationship with Miuccia Prada, which has brought us such blockbusters as Prada Man (2006), Prada Candy (2011), and every single one of the Prada ingredient-focused Infusion series, so widely adored by bloggers and perfume-lovers alike.
Christine Nagel says the first time she met a ‘nose’, that’s what she knew she wanted to be. So she trained as a research chemist and market analyst, and in Paris, in 1997, launched a seriously distinguished career that’s included creations like the blockbuster Narciso Rodriguez for Her (with Francis Kurkdjian), Jimmy Choo Flash and Guerlain’s Les Elixirs Charnels collection. After several years at Jo Malone London, Christine joined Hermès, to work alongside the legendary Jean-Claude Ellena in 2014. When he retired two years later, Ellena named Nagel his rightful successor, and she took her place as the esteemed Head of Perfumery. Nagel’s pared-down style with innovative twists has composed Eau de Rhubarb Ecarlate, Galop d’Hermès and the much-admired recent addition of Twilly d’Hèrmes – some of the Hermès’ most critically acclaimed and commercially successful fragrances to date.
Mathilde Laurent is widely considered the ‘rock ‘n roll superstar’ of contemporary perfumery, having been encouraged to become a perfumer by a family friend who noticed from a young age she’d been ‘encountering the world nose first, whether to describe a plate of food or the atmosphere of a new house,’ as Laurent puts it. Trained at ISIPCA after gaining a degree in chemistry and physics, she put in a call to Jean-Paul Guerlain himself, asking for an internship. After three months, she was offered a permanent position and stayed for the next 11 years. Joining Cartier to become their in-house and bespoke perfumer, Laurent has tirelessly worked to promote the creative use of quality synthetics in modern perfumery, in order to ‘shatter the idea that the result had to be hard, abstract, aggressive.’ Her work is by turns contemporary with a classic touch, surprising yet ultimately, sublimely wearable.
Camille Goutal studied Literature at ‘A’ Level then took courses in art, photography and design at the Louvre Museum School. It led to a career in photography, but it was scent that ultimately beckoned. Her mother, Annick, had founded the now renowned house in 1981, being joined by equally talented nose Isabelle Doyen in 1985 and watching as the name spread like wildfire around the world. By the 1990s, the collection was in the ‘top five’ in leading department stores like Saks and Nieman Marcus. When Annick sadly passed in 1999 aged just 53, Camille – who’d been the inspiration for both the inspiration for both Eau de Camille, and Petite Chérie – the baton was passed from being muse to Aromatique Majeur: honouring her mother’s legacy while continuing to drive the house – now re-branded as Goutal – ever onwards, to the delight and relief of millions of fans worldwide.
Alice Lavenat was a young perfumer working for Jean Niel in Grasse. Entering the prestigious French Perfumers Young Perfumer of the Year Competition in 2014. Inspired by her family’s wine business, and creatively interpreting the brief of using blackcurrant bud, the judges’ decision was unanimous: Lavenat was awarded first prize. One of Jean Niel’s clients was Marie Lise Bischoff – founder of the perfume house, Nejma – and she’d not only smelled Alice’s fragrance and fallen in love with it, but was determined to nurture the talent of this young perfumer. Naming the creation Parfum d’Alice, her talents have developed Nejma’s incredibly successful fragrance collection, including a collaboration with a French rap star for KoEptYs, and an exclusive range of Extrait for Harrods.
Fanny Bal is apprenticed to none other than Dominic Ropion – regarded by many as one of the greatest perfumers of our time – who says her approach to perfumery is ‘curious, tenacious and bold’ and predicts she has ‘all the best qualities to become a great perfumer.’ Another ISIPCA alumni, going on to work at IFF, Bal’s currently storming the expectations of the fragrance world with Sale Gosse for Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle (inspired by a mixture of bubblegum, cheeky ‘enfants terribles’, old-fashioned sweets and ‘doodles on the blackboard’). According to Malle, Fanny Bal is known for ‘constantly surprising her seniors’, and having recently smelled her utterly majestic (homage to) Hemmingway for Masque Milano (a trio of vetiver that had us swooning for hours), we say: watch this space. The name Fanny Bal will soon be on every fragrance fan’s lips, and her scents surprising your nose for years to come…
Accessories have the power to completely alter how we feel, the image we project to the world – the right shoes, a statement piece of jewellery and, of course, the scent we select. When we think of a name that crystallises unapologetic and provocative glamour, it’s Jimmy Choo – famous for iconic shoe designs, and now for beautiful fragrances, too – the latest hot number being Jimmy Choo Fever.
The story began over 20 years ago in the East End of London in the atelier of a shoemaker called Jimmy Choo. You can read all about the history of Jimmy Choo on our page dedicated to the house, but suffice to say, the red carpet became his runway. Soon the public began clamouring for fragrances that captured this megawatt lifestyle, and with a catalogue of best-selling scents to add to the portfolio, Jimmy Choo Fever is definitely setting temperatures rising.
Inviting you to release your inner extrovert, the fragrance was composed to epitomise the Jimmy Choo woman, whom they describe as having… ‘a taste for hedonism; she is independent with a magnetic allure.’ Furthermore, whomever chooses Jimmy Choo Fever as their fragrant accessory should have a character to match that of the juice, so… someone who ’embraces femininity and empowerment with a rich, seductive scent.’ Sounds like our kinda gal!
Top notes: black plum nectar, lychee and grapefruit heliotrope
Heart notes: vanilla orchid and jasmine
Base notes: roasted tonka bean, benzoin and sandalwood
What really strikes you is the luscious juiciness combined with the depth of that delicious toastiness in the base. It’s all the excitement of getting ready for a night out, or simply for your next adventure. Of course, the advertising campaign is as devastatingly glamorous as you’d hope, and we’re thrilled to share with you some sneek peeks behind-the-scenes of Jimmy Choo Fever, while catching up with superstar model Hannah Ferguson, who was chosen as the face. So what, exactly, makes her a Jimmy Choo woman…?
What do you like about fragrances?
Hannah: ‘I feel that wearing a fragrance is very personal, and it’s definitely part of my beauty routine; I put it on every day. Even if I go to the gym I put my perfume on! My first scent memory comes from when I lived on a farm – just thinking of our side patio during summer time always cheers me up. I remember it always being full of yellow and wild flowers. They were my favourite.’
How would you describe Fever, and the woman who wears it?
‘Fever is warm, vanilla-y and has a delicious almond smell to it. For me it’s not too strong, you can still wear in the day and then take it to a night out. The Fever woman? Well she’s confident, strong, but still approachable. She’s in her own space and she owns herself. She’s having fun, dances the night away. She’s unstoppable!’
Are you a Fever woman?
‘You know, I used to be very shy. Now, I’m more comfortable and outgoing than I used to be. Confidence also comes with age. When you get older you figure yourself out, realise what you want and what you don’t want. It’s important to go with your own pace, not listening to the others expecting things from you. It’s all about being comfortable with yourself and open minded, and vulnerable. Don’t be too afraid to open up; be yourself is key.’
Tell us about the ad campaign…
‘The location was the VIP in Paris. It was such fun! We shot all day long, with an early call sheet until night. I was on top of a table in heels, turning around looking at the camera… I was trying to get not dizzy. And then I fell off the table! That one was tricky. Dancers were giving me tips on how not to repeat that.
But really a day at work just seemed like the week end! I must say the dress was very nice, which always helps. I’d wear it in real life, 100%. An oh, those shoes. I love boots and heels. But you have to remember, I‘m also a farm girl so I like to have sneakers. Stilettos in the farm wouldn’t work so well!’
Jimmy Choo Fever £79 for 100ml eau de toilette
Try it at: debenhams.com
Acqua di Parma have been serving us stylish Colognes since 1916, their heritage leading us to beautiful city of Parma – famous for its violets, and strong cultural traditions. With their original Colonia, Acqua di Parma offer something crisp, subtle, utterly refreshing elegance – the sense of Italian style, bottled. Refined and wearable, Colonia became an instant – and now timeless – classic.
The fragrance was worn by stylish men, movie stars and those who understood luxury. (And borrowed, we’re sure, by many of the women in their lives – just as today.) The chic hand-made Art Deco bottle and vibrant yellow hat box style packaging graced many a smart bathroom shelf – and by the 1960s, it was a ‘best-kept secret’ shared by those-in-the-know. Rich in Sicilian citrus (bergamot, lemon, bitter and sweet oranges), this sparkling creation unfolds to a heart of lavender and Bulgarian rose, on warm, woody base notes – a formula that’s never changed…
But now, there’s a new Cologne in town, with Acqua di Parma launching Colonia Pura – a contemporary and highly refined interpretation of the Italian classic. Fresher still, balancing delicacy and boldness, the top notes of spicy coriander harmonise with the classic citrus burst, while in the heart we encounter sambac jasmine and petit-grain with the startling sensuality of the ultra-green narcissus absolute. In the base, musk and patchouli sink into the soothing woodiness of cedar, and all things said, this has to be one of the sexiest just-out-the-shower, gorgeous-man’s-skin scents we’ve sniffed for quite some time…
As for the ad campaign (see the video, above) – oh it’s just heart-meltingly lovely, and not only for the fact it stars model Will Chalker (whom we’d be happy to look at under any circumstances) but because his adorable family star alongside him. Shot by photographer Josh Olins, we’re loving this modern take on ‘masculinity’ focusing on a man’s contemporary life – and one that very much that includes the model’s wife, Chloe, and son, Arthur.
Will Chalker says: ‘I have known about Acqua di Parma for a long time, it’s a brand you kind of associate with Italy and the sun, elegance and style. It is one of my favourite campaigns, just because I get to shoot with my wife and son. It makes it feel more about us just having fun as a family and creating these little moments that, you know, we can capture in photos.’
Talking of capturing the mood, we were thrilled to get a sneak peek at what happened behind-the-scenes during the shoot, and share it with you, below…
A shot of sunshine and warm feelings is exactly what we need right now, seeing as autumn has arrived way before we were ready for it. Watching the campaign videos and spritzing Colonia Pura could be the only way we get through the grey-er months at TPS Towers, frankly. And yes, we’re ‘borrowing’ this, too. (He totally nicks our luxe beauty products, so share and share alike, right?) Acqua di Parma Colonia Pura from £66 for 50ml eau de Cologne
Buy it at John Lewis
Written by Suzy Nightingale
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