Frédéric Malle, Illustrated
The art of perfume making is fascinating and complex, but even the most fervent consumers of fragrance are rarely privy to the process. All we know is that we like certain floral, musk, and fruity notes; how or why they wound up in a specific flacon—in a specific concentration and combination—more often than not remains a mystery. But the story behind scents can be as intoxicating as the aromas themselves. That’s the premise of Frédéric Malle’s first print endeavor, On Perfume Making, which recalls the inception of each of Malle’s 18 cult-favorite collaborations alongside original illustrations from artist Konstantin Kakanias. “It’s more than an introduction,” Malle said of the book last night at Barneys, where fans like the evening’s hosts, Uma Thurman and Arpad Busson, gathered to celebrate the man and his métier. “It’s about the way [my] business is organized and the way we work. It’s not one thing, it’s a cocktail: 1) I’m very picky; 2) I only work with the best perfumers; and 3) I have time, money, and freedom”—and friends in high places. “I wouldn’t do it for any other person,” Kakanias said of his contributions to the tome. “It’s like working with the new Guerlain!” Thurman, who moonlights as the face of Givenchy’s Ange ou Demon, was not at liberty to discuss perfume last night, but she was inclined to lavish Malle with praise. “It’s nice to see someone putting integrity back into fragrance,” she said—a sentiment seconded by guests including Muriel Brandolini and Carolina Herrera. “I love his Carnal Flower,” Herrera said, singling out Malle’s jasmine and tuberose eau.
While the hardback won’t hit shelves until March, there are a limited number of advanced copies currently on sale at Barneys and at the Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle atelier while supplies last. We’ve got a preview of some of Kakanias’ abstract images here.—Celia Ellenberg
Photo: Courtesy of Angelika Taschen