Frederic Malle has recently released Dries van Noten par Frederic Malle ($185/50 ml.), the first of three in a series of “olfactory portraits of extraordinary individuals.” As the description goes, this is “a modern oriental evocative of classic perfumes which translate the distinctive sensuality of Dries van Noten’s world.”
I find the mens and women’s clothing designed by Dries van Noten to be fascinating, beautifully made, and timeless. There is always a deeply human element to them, sometimes a quirk, sometimes something deeply evocative of culture, and extraordinarily well tailored. His shops are like a journey, I always feel like I’ve been to foreign land when I’m inside, and enjoying every step along the way. His research and originality in developing interesting and original fabrics is legendary. And, as his critics have pointed out, his clothes look modern but, due to some twist in the Dries-time continuum, it becomes impossible for them to look outdated. One could wear something made ten years ago, and still look completely up to date. A sketchbook of his work (click to enlarge):
When I learned that Frederic Malle was introducing the Dries van Noten fragrance, I was immediately curious. I obtained sample, and have been experimenting and gathering opinions about the scent. The notes include sandalwood, vanilla, sacrasol, a refined patchouli, saffron and jasmine absolute.
As one might expect from a scent based on a designer of both mens and women’s clothing, the scent is appropriate for either gender. My first apray, which I shared with a friend, gave us both the same impression–this was easily one of the most complicated fragrances that we’d ever experienced. The notes were as separately defined, yet as harmonious, as Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. In that first moment, I had the experience of sensing a tapestry of individual spices, wrapped in a bit of vanilla and sandalwood. Unlike some scents which hit emotionally, Malle’s Dries van Noten strikes me as an intellectual scent, a Rubic’s cube that holds together but is unquestionably made of many individual moving parts. The sillage is robust, and the scent lasted easily all day. The dry-down was powdery and comforting, with a strong harmonious spice. After a few hours, the notes seemed to blend and blur into a pleasant, slightly sweet spiced fragrance.
Dries van Noten is a fragrance is office friendly for either gender. As an interesting and pleasing scent, the effect is strong but far from overpowering. There’s a level of sophistication in the works, clearly the work of someone who is operating at the height of his craft. This is an eminently gift-able fragrance to someone who has a library of excellent books and a very high taste level.
The sample that I have is generous enough to last me for several weeks, particularly as I’m trying out several others at the same time. For now, this is on my “maybe” list, but I haven’t placed any orders yet and there are a few others above it. Perhaps this has more to do with my mood for a more feminine, emotional scents at present, rather than a reflection of the superb craft of this fragrance.
Available at Barneys (also available in 100 ml. size)