Monday, April 30, 2007

Le Parfum de Thérèse by Frédéric Malle : Perfume Review

What strikes me as magic with the Malle perfume line is how the fragrances constantly change after application, yet somehow, they also stay the same throughout the day. I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but this is indeed the way I experience them. Therese is an explosion on the skin upon application. If Lanvin’s Arpege is a rain of notes, played one by one upon the skin, this one is a firework. It starts compact and bright and fiery, enters the sinuses and then it explodes, in a myriad of notes and colors, amazing the senses with its ever-changing form with a quickness that is almost too fast to absorb. Then it settles and comfortably engulfs the skin like a precious cashmere sweater. Only then can one come to see the true character of Therese coming through.

Even though I have now welcomed Therese into my life, getting to know her was a contradictory experience. Our relationship started with intense dislike – the only thing I could think after Le Parfum de Thérèse settled on my skin was that I hated it. The only aspect of the perfume I was initially able to discern was an overwhelming leather note, infused with balmy, sweet wood. I walked out of the store where I was sampling it with the clear conviction that I hate it, yet at the same time I was trying to fight the fact that I was deeply intrigued. Every few paces I would find myself with my wrist glued to my nose. “It’s hateful, isn’t it?” I kept asking the friend who was accompanying me, yet I’d become slightly irritated every time he agreed. I found myself more and more enamored with it as the day progressed, yet I kept resisting its charm. I finally sat down to dinner with friends on that same evening and offered my wrist expectantly to yet another victim. “It really is you, it sits so well on your skin”, she said. “It is so very warm and sensual, isn’t it?”, I gushed with relief, finally accepting my true thoughts, liberated to verbalize them. And that is exactly what Le Parfum de Thérèse is, warm and sensual. The drydown is really, truly magical. After several hours of wear, Therese had calmed down to the most exquisite blend of buttery leather, honeyed tobacco leaves and shavings of cedar mixed with aromatic lilac flowers. It is not fruity to me; the watermelon and the plum never make an appearance, nor does the tangerine. It is as if my nose is rendered insensitive to those notes due to how overwhelming I find the initial burst of leather. Leather notes and I are not known to get along very well, and the fact that I ended up loving the leather in this blend is a glorious feat in and out of itself. Therese is sweet and at the same time self-assured. Gentle and forceful. She is a professional, with a sexy, dark side.

Picture of lilac blossoms courtesy of
Picture of cigars in leather case courtesy of


chayaruchama said...

Hi, Divina...

This one purrrrrrs on me.
Feels like my own skin.

I find it ceaselessly fascinating, how scents unfold on each person.
Never tire of it !

This is clearly a masterpiece- but, like all masterpieces, can't be worn happily by everyone .

As in so many instances, the drydown can reveal all.

I'm glad you and the drydown became friends...

I very much enjoy all your musings.

Carpe diem, pretty girl !

Divina said...

Aww, Chaya, what a beautiful message you left me :) Indeed, Therese is a difficult one, a masterpiece like you said, and I still find myself troubled by its opening notes. But it is so fascinating and the wait for the drydown is always worthwhile to me. After it settles I can drown all day in its languid beauty. I am not surprised you used "purr" to describe it and I wish I could smell it on you!

Gail S said...

I looooovvvvve this perfume! And our experiences with it seem similar. I was not impressed with it at all upon first sniff, but then I enjoyed the heart notes a lot and the drydown was nice. And for several days afterward, when I was wearing something else, I kept thinking about it until I had to put it on again. For me, it's the rose and pepper in the middle that make my heart go pitty-pat. Now if only I could afford to get more than just a decant!

Divina said...

Oooh I do hope you get to have your full bottle soon Gail! It is so deserving of a place in your wardrobe! Puts a smile on my face to read you get to think about it when you are not wearing it :)