???? Portrait of a Lady, a fragrance with a sumptuous construction, was born from an exchange of ideas and inspirations between Frédéric Malle and Dominique Ropion.
The refined creator of artistic super-luxury fragrances tells us behind the scenes of one of the iconic fragrances of his brand. Created together with Dominique Ropion, it exudes femininity (but it’s not just women who love it).
Praised be the rose. Once again this noble flower, symbol of romanticism and femininity, has been able to inspire an artistic creation destined to last over time. Let’s talk about Portrait of a Lady, a fragrance with a sumptuous construction, born from an exchange of ideas and inspirations between Frédéric Malle and Dominique Ropion, brilliant fragrance creators. Launched on the occasion of the tenth birthday of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, the fragrance house founded in 2000 by Malle, the fragrance in question has quickly become one of the maison’s best sellers. Monsieur Malle tells us the story.
Where did the idea for this perfume come from?
Rarely does it happen to get a table with a concept already defined and clear. More often, on the other hand, when it comes to creating a new fragrance, one is guided on the one hand by technique, on the other by imagination, instinct and external stimuli. In this case with Dominique we started considering another fragrance created together, namely Geranium Pour Monsieur.
How did it inspire you?
We thought that by eliminating the freshness part of this perfume, given by notes like mint and anise, we could have created something extremely warm and sensual. We started experimenting, using mosses, benzoin and a touch of patchouli. But we understood that something decisive was still missing.
What did you do then?
We started to proceed by trial and error, moving in circles and exploring. Until we realized that the rose – of high quality – would give personality to the perfume, creating a true symphony with the high elements.
And so it was?
Yes, adding a precious Turkish rose to your heart has created an explosion. I remember being struck by a series of images: exotic elephants, Maria Callas in “Casta Diva”, the film “Senso” by Luchino Visconti, certain images of Avedon, the lyric opera “Tosca”… A riot of in short, sensuality.
How long did it take you to get to the final result?
About nine months, just under a year. I remember that the day we finished the perfume my wife came to pick me up at the end of the day on Madison Avenue – I was in New York – and together we went to dinner in the city’s famous Italian restaurant, Sant Ambreous. I had made her wear the fragrance and during the evening several people came to compliment her at the table, asking her what she was wearing.
A success from the beginning, then?
To be honest in this case I was afraid we had created an exaggerated fragrance, so “bigger than life” that it could not be appreciated by the public, so as to leave us baffled. And instead I was blatantly denied: right away he had a great success with the public. And don’t think that only women are using it: I know many men who are crazy about it…
How can this reception be explained?
The intensity and the generous, exaggerated dose of absolute of Turkish rose make the difference. Being guided by instinct has brought good results. And, like a perfect chain, each ingredient of Portrait of a Lady binds to the other in an indissoluble way: blackcurrant, raspberry, cinnamon, clove, patchouli of different qualities, sandalwood, incense, ambroxan, musk and a type of very soft benzoin, which looks like vanilla.
Open the bottle and smell the fragrance that sensations evoke?
It’s like watching a lyric opera, dramatic and sensual, like feeling the warmth of velvet beneath your fingertips. Exudes femininity. A femininity to say the least explosive.
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An exuberant dose of Turkish rose rests on a bed of patchouli heart imbued with sandalwood and frankincense. An accord of clove, blackcurrant and raspberry binds the perfume together for a final movement of symphonic femininity. Lady, day and night.
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