Friday, September 24, 2010

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady: new fragrance

Les Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle have ventured into home fragrance lately (here & more below on this post), but the fine fragrance department was seemingly neglected for a while. Portrait of a Lady, their newest feminine fragrance is going to change all that, introducing another coveted item in the niche line. The name is of course inspired by the same-named novel by Henry James from 1881, focusing on a heroine who afronts her overwhelming destiny with all the tragic mood of a classical Greek tragedy and set in a context which clashes the Old and New World sensibilities to great aplomb.

Composed by Dominique Ropion (who had collaborated with Malle on Une Fleur de Cassie, Vétiver Extraordinaire, Carnal Flower and Géranium pour Monsieur), Portrait of a Lady, the upcoming F.Malle fragrance, is centered around rose alongside spicy notes of clove, cinnamon and incense, developing a complex sillage that is promising to be oscillating between an oriental and a chypre. After all the F.Malle Une Rose is indeed almost chypré already. The woody note in Portrait of a Lady is patchoulol, a terpene extracted from natural patchouli, whose one isomer is responsible for the scent of patchouli itself. This refinement allows to avoid some of the technical problems of using the unfractured patchouli and leads to a purer scent. Rose and patchouli have been a beloved theme of modern perfumery in the last decade with several worthy speciments in niche fragrances, from Voleur de Roses by L'Artisan to Lady Vengeance from Juliette has a Gun. But the orientalised take and the spice addition alongside the smokiness of incense seem like a novel take that seems exciting and promising. Could it prove to be the perfect Gothic rose fragrance that sometimes people are seeking?
Portrait of a Lady will retail from 145 to 215 euros for 50ml and 100ml respectively, available from November 2010.

In the home fragrancing front, ‘Diffuseur Solitaire’, a non electric minimally designed new gadget, shaped like an aluminum cylinder in either black or metal-finish adapts itself to confined spaces. The more modest price point (compared to the 360 euros that were asked for Fleur Mécanique) is another advantage. It is for the moment offered in re-worked scents of ‘Coffee Society’ and ‘Saint des Saints’ (review on the link) which were originally developed for the scented candles in the F.Malle line. But the recharges of the Fleur Mécanique line have also profited from a lifting: a new concentration extrême, touted as more than 50 % is being presented as "+" version.

All pious at the Malle shrine, enter!

Diffuseur Solitaire : 85 euros ; Recharge "+" : 55 à 75 euros, available on the oficial site

Related reading on Perfumeshrine: Upcoming releases, Frederic Malle news & reviews

pic via osmoz


  1. Carnal Flower, Iris Poudre, Musk Ravageur sont quelques des echantillons que j'ai commandes il y a peu. Je les adore, especiallement Musk Ravageur, et le fait que les parfumeurs chez FM ont la possibilite de creer sans restrictions, le fait tres important du point de vue de la parfumerie et des "nez" en quete de nouvels horizons. Merci pour la nouvelle, ce nouvel parfum, en lisant l'article je crois qu'il va aussi me "ravager".

  2. A new release from F Malle? Definitely something to look forward to! It sounds wonderful on paper.

  3. It sounds like a winner to me! I'd be interested in a split.

  4. Just like I couldn't care less about Jean-Claude Ellena's Hermessences, I've never been a huge fan of the Frederic Malle perfumery. They were innovative when they were launched ten years ago but now unlike Tubereuse Criminelle and Feminite du Bois I feel none of the Malles are 'can't live without it' material. For innovation and uniqueness, I'd rather explore Cartier Les Heures de Parfum.

    What I really want to know is if a certain girl in New York is going to find a decant of the new Lutens in her mailbox next week ;-)

  5. Anonymous00:58

    i've been waiting for someone to do rose-cinnamon where you can actually smell both at the same time (there is a fleeting moment during paloma picasso tentation where this is achieved). i hope this one finds and sustains it.

    une fleur de cassie is my favorite malle (followed closely by musc ravageur and iris poudre)... so i'm hoping ropion comes through on this one. sounds great, either way. and i, for one, can't have too many beautiful rose scents.

    i've been wearing del rae coup de foudre all week - and it's kept my mood up the whole time. beautiful and sparkly.


  6. I do have Une Rose and love it so I shall be looking forward to trying this new Malle when it hits our shores!

  7. Zazie11:42

    Frederic malle is one of the few niche lines I really keep in high esteem, and dominque ropion for FM has developed two favorite fragrances of mine, carnal flower and une fleur de cassie.

    I am a bit worried about the rose+patchouli combination, one classic accord that I find hideous to the point of... Well, anyway, I will have to try this. Nothing can make me lust after a fragrance more than two words: Malle Ropion.

  8. Anonymous14:04

    For a professed patchouliphobe, seems that I've got decants of quite a few rose-patchouli scents! I do seem to do much better with patch if it smells very green and herbal (which I understand is the aged, high-end stuff), rather than the earthy-dusty version. I love L'Arte di Gucci and MFK Lumiere Noire pf, so I am very excited about this one. Ooh.

  9. VL,

    merci de votre participation, j'espère que vous sentiez bien-venue en Perfume Shrine!

    C'est vrai que la ligne Malle a produit des parfums qui ont devenu tres aimés, des références. Peut-être Portrait of a Lady sera aussi: ravageuse ou non, selon le cas!

    à tout à l'heure :-)

  10. P,

    it does, doesn't it? The orientalised spin might veer it off course from the chyprish-patchouli-ish rose that we have seen again and again. I'm hopeful, this is Ropion after all.

  11. Karin,

    it sounds better than many newer releases. Rest assured if a bottle comes my way in the end (decisions, decisions), there will be a split. ;-)

  12. Uella,


    I know your taste, so I can comprehend.
    Re: innovation, I think both the Hermessences and the Malles have shown their mettle, although there are some which are not "can't live without" material, I'll give you that. Even though this summer alone proved to me that Un Lys Mediteranee and Poivre Samarkande are great heat-material and I -personally- can't live without them. ;D
    Still they tell the story in a different way, enough to guarantee a place in the Pantheon some years from now. Mathilde does a good job too, no question about it (at least two of them are gorgeous work); perhaps she's a bit more "supportive" than the other two lines, which is a consideration.

    Now, about getting a little something. Nah...don't you know we keep our word? :-) There is something going out with Monday's mail, even though I thought you had already gotten on board anyway. It's my pleasure and I look forward to your impressions! (if you're not too bored, I'd like to read them in an email)

  13. Minette,

    a spicy rose is something I can long for. I don't remember Tentations too well, but will get it out and resniff, since you say so.

    Une Fleur de Cassie, Iris Poudre and Un Lys Mediteranee have been trusty companions which I fall back upon time and again. They're utterly gorgeous (I am dissenting with MR and think Roucel did a "rounder", more complete job with L de Lolita, but I'm just being cheeky! LOL)

    Excellent on the Coup de Foudre, need to try that one!

  14. M,

    it's a very good "earthy" rose, surprised I haven't succumbed, as I have rose openings in my collection. I trust the semi-orientalised spicy spin will win us over. Hope you get it sooner than later!

  15. Zazie,

    there, there...I forgot Carnal Flower. I was mentioning the trusty companions above and that one is a gorgeous fragrance which I have been neglecting lately (why??? I hear my bottle calling). Maybe because I find Tubeuse Criminelle more year-round, seasonless material, that's why.

    I am a little sceptical of the rose-patchouli combo myself, not because I don't like the combination (the two notes pair well and one boosts the other, making the petals unfurling endlessly; as long as you don't despise either of course), but because it's been overdone in recent years. Then again, Ropion, Malle: if they can't do what they darn please, who can?

  16. Muse,

    good to hear so, what elegant choices!!

    Aged patchouli is very sweet in a refined herbal way, it almost becomes gourmand! It's lovely. I know that patchouli has a "head-shop" vibe for many. Luckily for me, I guess, I don't have such associations. I do realize many do, however, so it's always something to consider. I think you'll be safe with this one, but of course one will have to sample first!

    Do try Balenciaga's Michelle too, if you can, in parfum. The rose there almost is a percursor of Poison (if you deducted the tuberose and the fruit)

  17. Anonymous14:29

    I don't really have a "headshop" connection per se, but patchouli often smells very dirty-dusty to me. I like the herbal-smelling stuff, though.

    Must get out my Michelle parfum - I just snagged a tiny bottle of vintage Poison esprit de parfum on ebay last week, and now am fascinated with it. (My kids think it's the floating wave of death, though. They HATE it. "Don't make Mom mad, she'll get out the Poison...")

  18. Rappleyea18:45

    This sounds gorgeous, although the few Malle's I've tried have worn me rather than the other way around. I love rose and patch; I'm almost sorry they've stripped it down. I hope you'll try it and give us a review!

  19. M,

    funny story!! LOL! The esprit de parfum is a particularly good score, congrats! (but yes, not exactly a child's initially appealing scent preference)

    I can see where you're coming from re: the "dusty". I usually refer to that effect as "pot-pouri-sh" (which is even more laughable than my poor wordsmithing).

  20. D,

    can't say I was too impressed with the latest Malle frags (apart from the home collection which I broke the news on and which is fab, if very expensive). My tastes run the gamut of FdC, IP, ULM, CF, EdH and maybe UR and these are all older issues. So this has potential for me at least.

  21. And D,
    you can bet on it! ;-)

  22. Anonymous20:56

    Thanks for your article! I look forward to trying this new creation from Malle. Overall, I think it's one of the best lines available. Some I definitely "can't live without" such as Carnal Flower. I fell in love instantly with it. It smells splendid and sexy yet very natural. I tried other tuberose perfumes but Tubereuse Criminelle smells "harsh" on me. The perfume by Kilian is pretty but it reminds me Fracas too much. From Malle, I also wear Lys Mediterranee. It smells quite sexy too but is less intense so I find it perfect for the summer holidays. Alexandra

  23. that will get the nose excited! I wonder if the perfume is inspired by the book? cannot wait to try. The Malle launches are the most exciting of the year for me

  24. I got two samples of Portrait of a Lady at Barney's. I love the oud effect, the rose with its fruity facets but my only slight issue with it is that it never warms up on the skin. Portrait of a Lady is not as cold as Une Rose but not as warm and radiant as Rose de Nuit.


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