Perfumer Frederic Malle, Founder of Editions de Parfums, has redefined the industry by ceding the spotlight to the artists working behind the curtain.
By Jon Roth
We live in an age when anyone can be a curator — of playlists, of menus, of party guests. It’s an easy title, the kind anyone with a modicum of taste can assume. That’s why Frederic Malle has never taken it. Instead, he edits. Grandson of the founder of Dior Parfums, son of one of its greatest innovators, he works with the best noses in the world to hit on a gripping conceit, then whittles it down: considerate, careful, and cunning, into an olfactive masterwork.
In a world where editors garner few accolades, Malle stands alone in his field.
The distinction lies in his approach. Take quick stock of the cologne bottles on your dresser, and you’ll see the names of brands, not perfumers. Malle has effectively erased the middle man, taking the architects behind iconic scents like Terre D’Hermes and Eternity and, for the first time, putting the author’s names on the bottle.
“Until I wrote their names on our perfume bottles, these artists were like ghost writers. They were hidden from the public, not even invited to the launches of their own products. I thought that it was much more interesting to connect the public to the very best perfumers in the industry, rather than pretending that I had made these perfumes.”
We sat with the perfumer to learn more about the inspiration for Monsieur, his collaborative process, and the visceral power of scent.