I first tried Le Parfum de Therese ever so briefly at Tauer’s house in Zurich, he owned a small bottle and on first sniff, I admittedly dismissed it, far too keen to try more of his work and new releases at the time (Noontide Petals…). I tried it again ever so quickly on paper after a sales assistant gave me a quick sniff and again, at the time I was more drawn to Dans Tes Bras which I later purchased for my mum, and Une Rose which I initially loved (and still do). However, I went to London yesterday in the hope to buy something new, unaware that I would leave the shop with this one. I tried all the Malle’s again, well, the ones I have previously loved: Une Rose, Une Fleur De Cassie, even Musc Ravageur (which 20th time round got a bit unappealing)… and then Le Parfum de Therese…
The magic hit me straight away and I was struck with a kind of… melancholy joy… you know? It was gorgeous. Having let it sit on my skin for just an hour or so as I explored the nearby shops, I went back to Liberty and bought a 50ml bottle… I’m not always that spontaneous.
Although I have only owned this for all of 2 days now, I have worn it day and night – it’s unbearably beautiful.
Only after my purchase did I read the little love story that goes with this fragrance. En bref: Edmond Roudnitska created this hyper modern (at the time) fragrance in the 50’s for his wife Therese and she wore it solely ever since as her signature. When Roudnitska passed away in 1996, Frederic Malle approached her afterwards and asked for the unique perfume to be included in his line of fragrances. She agreed to share it with the world. It is a perfume made with absolute love – and with this image, is undoubtedly one of the most romantic fragrances I’ve smelt.
Le Parfum De Therese opens with bitter, juicy tangerine, spiked with a touch of pepper and a hint of clove. There’s a culinary greenery underneath, but the fragrance doesn’t smell “cologne-y”, or even particularly fresh. It’s muted, a soft layer from the start that whilst almost mouthwatering, is inedible, and quickly ozonic. Now, the ozonic accords in the opening seem to stem from a melon note. The melon smells of melon… not water scented with melon, not an aquatic calone overload… just melon. Is it watery? Well of course… melon is. But it’s a “just-sweet” juice, the tiniest bit lactonic, but blended with the tangerine, subtle spice and green to create something that smells utterly seamless on the skin.
More fruit joins in, but again, nothing high-pitched and thankfully nothing too dry. A plum note warms up Le Parfum De Therese – working beautifully with the spices – the melon giving the fragrance a texture which takes it away from any possible association with the plum-y, spicey overloads of Arabie and Aziyade for example – this is nothing like that at all. The plum smells like skin, like a replacement for cumin, or leather. It has the same feel as the apricot in Daim Blond by Serge Lutens (which doesn’t work for me at all). It has a density to it but a light scent, intermingling with the opening fruits to make the transition to the heart one of the most languid, luxuriously smooth journeys I’ve encountered.
The florals? They do show up I promise you… at first I get a clean rose. Lacking any geranium-like freshness (but spiced with the pepper from the opening), it sits in a plush layer like a rose pillow (the only way I can describe it!). Jasmine shows up shortly after and dominates the floral arrangement… it’s a touch indolic, but restrained – smooth and refined by the aquatic fruits (a combination which should on paper, make me nauteous, but no). The jasmine is delicately handled, a touch honeyed, and lightly spiced (I keep saying spiced, but Le Parfum de Therese is not spicy… excuse my bad choice of language!). I also get subtle wafts of carnation and the merest hint of lily. But all in all, Le Parfum de Therese is a jasmine/rose.
At this point, Le Parfum De Therese smells refined, restrained, with a depth and weight to it which clings to the skin. The base gets drier as it goes on, a hint of suede, dry woods and earth (the vetiver/earth accord mixed with the remaining carnation reminding me of the very depths of Iris Silver Mist without the iris and metallic notes…). More comparisons? I’m not sure… many people compare this to other Edmond Roudnitska fragrances, mainly classic Dior’s… my lack of experience with them means that I can’t comment on that… but to me, Le Parfum De Therese smells possibly like the fragrance that could have inspired Aftelier’s Wild Roses. It has the same fruity/rose combo used with a similar texture, and hints of spice and earth. This is the closest thing I could compare it to.
Anyway… I could go on and on about this, pulling it apart more and more, trying to both come to terms with it, and express it as accurately as possible. Describing it in such depth just destroys it though, as on paper it seems to read like something it isn’t. Expect nothing and forget everything before trying it. But for me: it is an absolute treasure.
Le Parfum de Therese 50ml EDP Frederic Malle – 125 Euros www.fredericmalle.com