Dries Van Noten by Frederic Malle

by Katie on March 25, 2013

I’d been waiting for this for some time. 

As part of Frederic Malle’s new initiative, “XXX par Frederic Malle” which aims to translate the world of people or brands who Malle admires into perfume form, a collaboration was announced. This was to be the combination of two eponymous creatives. One in fragrance (Frederic Malle) and one in fashion, the always unique and influential Dries Van Noten who has cut his own path, unyielding to trends and instead created them and a very ‘in’ cult fashion following.

It’s Dries Van Noten’s unswerving ability to create great works of balance and beauty whilst merging Eastern and Western influences that has lifted him above and beyond the pack. Many try to deliver on this amalgamation, often showing trite nods to influences and cultures whilst Van Noten encompasses them so effortlessly whilst meaningfully, also mixing subversive masculine and feminine tailoring in deep hues. Balanced and resolute, every item in his collections is impeccably styled (often juxtaposed) with meaning and reason. No reason for excess. The modern equivalent of a Flemish old master, he is a most cerebral designer who also pulls at the emotions by the sheer impact of his collections. These are undoubtedly clothes for grown ups. Grown ups with gravitas and taste.

Just so Frederic Malle’s collection of perfumes. Amongst perfume groupies, Malle is something of a God. He calls himself simply, ‘Editeur de Parfums’. By employing the most revered perfumers akin to visionary fashion couturiers, he creates the most sublime fragrances that stand outwith convention. Olivia Giacobetti, Jean-Claude Ellena, Edmond Roudnitska and Dominique Ropion to name but a few of his co-conspirators. Their work translates the most refined raw ingredients and innovative technology into sought after, one-of-a-kind scents. This is the vision of a perfume protagonist who constructs wearable art in a bottle.

The meeting of the two masters led by Malle’s envoy in this instance, perfumer Bruno Jovanovic, meant translating the complexities of Dries van Noten’s most unique ethos into a perfume. The idiosyncratic styling, the Indian influences, the graphic prints, the balance of texture and form…all had to be encapsulated along with Dries’ most Flemish of touches.

Jovanovic turned to Sandalwood from Mysore, a mainstay of Indian culture and heritage as the heart of the perfume, as it is of many other classic perfumes. Dries Van Noten by Malle was to be no hipster flash in the pan. Added to this hearty burst would be the vanilla sweetness (of Belgian pastries) with added sacraosol and Peruvian balm. What we have is the juxtaposition of mystery yet groundedness, Eastern religious piety yet sensual warmth and intrigue. The meeting of heart and mind, like Dries’ work in itself. 

Complex as the perfume is, pulling at the seams between masculinity and femininity and Eastern and Western mores, Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle is rather simple in its evocation. It’s fittingly big yet discreet. 

Like Dries’ work cuts through the myriad of fashion ideas, this perfume work of art cuts to chase. It’s genius lies it its balance and adroitness. Again like Van Noten’s collections, there is never style over substance. Therein lies its puritanical passion and hint of subversion. This is modernity. The heavy warmth is countered by a large dose of jasmine absolute and musk accord with a trace of saffron and patchouli to give it pace. Then, as one feels overblown with Indian influence, a kick of classic Italianite kicks in with a boost of Calabrian bergamot and lemon oil.

Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle is a very contemporary fine fragrance indeed. Complex yet easy to grasp, it fully relays the contrasts and juxtapositions within Dries Van Noten’s genius and vision with its warm textural construction. It’s beauty lies in its reach going beyond mere Dries aesthetes.

Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle is sold exclusively in the Dries Van Noten and Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle stores and retailers (including Liberty). Prices are £110 (£50ml) and £155 (110ml).

Catwalk imagery from Dries Van Noten’s S/S’13 collection kindly supplied by www.style.com. Portrait image of Dries Van Noten and Frederic Malle by Brigitte Lacombe.

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