Whilst we await the new reality TV series that focuses on anyone with taste’s favourite dept store (‘Making Liberty’, Channel 4), perfumer Frederic Malle has chosen to honour his 5th year anniversary with Liberty to use his synaesthesia, to come up with packaging imagery that depicts the mood of a range of his fragrances . (The cynical and commercial amongst us may say that it coincides with Christmas gift giving).
Monsieur Malle (like this writer) is afflicted with a natural ability to link fragrances with colours, themes and textures. In fact, we often see fragrances in 3D. So, OK, M. Malle didn’t actually go out and create these visuals from his mind’s eye, but used Liberty’s rich heritage of prints to best illustrate selected fragrances.
Ahh! That makes sense. As the writer here sees an ENTIRELY different set of visuals for some of the perfumes enclosed. Most jarring and at odds re smell meets the proposed image must be ‘Portrait of Lady’ and ‘Le Parfum de Therese’ which, are both so uniquely identifiably, old world classic approaches reconstituted in a modernist, authentic, complex manner that the minimalist acorn and firework prints (respectively) seem very off key. Yes, the packaging is rather lovely indeed but does it match these smells that are so rich and laden with sensuality and intrigue? Non! At least, not for this synaesthete. Portrait of a Lady is a minefield of rich clashing velvets, of Etro and Oscar Wilde co-joined and of Edith Wharton’s approach to propriety brought forward to now. It’s both highly ramped up 21st Century feminine and of its time and yet out of kilter with modernism and that is what it makes it so special. So do I think a plain black backdrop with a crawling leaf print represents this to best effect? Hmm, I smell PR.
Still, it’s an inspired talking point with Monsieur Malle using Liberty prints from the 1700s through to the 1990s though, for the most part, the more modernist work. Lipstick Rose with it’s rose print is decidedly on point as is the geometricism of Bigarade Concentree.
Frederic Malle’s range of perfumes are available at Liberty and online.