A Refined Story

By Jo Phillips

A story can be told in words, it can be told in dance, and it can be told in music but one of the most exquisite ways it can be told is via perfume. One of the greatest storytellers in perfume is a dynamic soul named Frédéric Malle. The latest ‘book’ in his world where notes make up the chapters is Synthetic Jungle. Find out more about this episode and the tale of Frédéric, the perfume publisher; one who collaborates with each story he tells here in A Refined Story. Main Image Chantel King

Frédéric Malle grew up in Paris surrounded by chic perfumes, rare books, films and above all, elegance. His maternal grandfather Serge Heftler-Louiche founded Parfums Christian Dior, and his mother was the artistic director there. They both passed on to a young Frédéric the power of perfume as a true luxury object, as well as an uncompromising creative vision. With these values in hand, he went to be one of the original visionaries that started what has become the phenomenon that is niche fragrance.

Not by the nose as such by working more like a curator, Malle under the umbrella of his house, Les Éditions de Parfums which he founded in 2000, brings the best perfumers on board. Generously giving them their name on the front of each bottle as a full celebration of the collaborative nature of each scent created.

He says of his creations:

Like an editor working with authors, I help them to give the very best of themselves. We share a common language, the language of formulation and raw materials, which allows us to communicate in a totally direct, immediate way.

My aim is to explore unknown olfactory territories, to publish exceptional perfumes, and for each of these perfumes to stand the test of time. In other words, I wish to help the greatest perfumers to compose the ‘classics’ of tomorrow.

My editorial policy is shaped by my personal taste, and by a continual quest for refinement and elegance”.

The latest association is between him and Nose Anne Flipo and together they have created Synthetic Jungle.

Anne Flipo grew up in the Northeast of France surrounded by verdant gardens. In perfume, Flipo discovered a way to reconstruct her childhood memories through technical expertise. By allying her passionate love of nature with meticulous craftsmanship, she was able to share this olfactory dream world with others – and in the process, became one of the most highly respected “master perfumers” in the profession.

Due to the fragrance exploring both natural scent and synthetic scent, the two different sides are able to meet in harmony; one aiding the other.

Frédéric explains:

The paradox is that using naturals leads to ‘old perfume smells, to actually replicate nature as we know it, you need synthetics. Perfume becomes interesting the moment chemistry comes in.” Extracting a natural scent via steam or solvents effectively cooks the floral, random and complex process during which many of the freshest, most fragile components disappear and alter. Using synthetic elements allows the perfumer to reintroduce detail. This results not merely in the possibility of more exact replicas, but also of interpretation – something more complex, multidimensional and intriguing than nature itself”.

And the notes that make up the scent included are?

You will find in this luminous and vital new scent a node to the green accord of Estee Lauder’s personal scent, Private Collection, and so lies the opulent basil of the original composition, along with a recomposed bouquet of hyacinth, lily of the valley, natural jasmine, and Ylang Ylang oil.

Bringing a modern and sharper edge find synthetic black currant and styralyl acetate, effectively putting the bouquet through a glossy, sparkling filter.

By simplifying the Chypre and leather notes, Anne builds a cleaner, more streamlined accord. Finally, find sexy dirty ‘rooty’ and evocative patchouli. The resulting scent is both contemporary and warm, a seamless blend of organic and synthetic.

The story of Synthetic Jungle, which Anne Flipo has created with Frédéric Malle is somewhat like a sci-fi read. Not the literal representation of a jungle but rather a dreamlike hypnotic sci-fi experience of verdant green that is warm to the touch. ‘Perfume pages’ with a contradiction; natural yet stylized, hyper-realistic and fantastical.

Find out more about Synthetic Jungle Here and more about Les Éditions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Here

If you enjoyed reading A Refined Story then why not read The Emotions of Art Here