Scent your home by Fréderic Malle

This time we asked the French parfumeur Monsieur Fréderic Malle about scents for our home. We have all been at home for some time and fragrance plays an important role in moving and enlightening our mind and soul.

IRMA: Since a few weeks we are at home now and we start to evaluate our surroundings differently. How can a scented candle or room scent add a certain atmosphere to your home?
FREDERIC MALLE: Perfumes, to me, are like the clothes that dress you. They also generate an atmosphere, a sense of warmth or cool, comfort or cleanliness. They are a way to answer your most intimate moods. This is why the range that we have designed with the best perfumers in the industry to perfume people’s homes is made with such specific candles and scents, so that they can match people’s every need.

IRMA: Some rooms stand for certain smells. When in I am in my kitchen, I smell the herbs on the balcony, the spices in my cupboard and I always like to have a fresh cut garden rose on my bedside table, where do you imagine your scents for the house?
FREDERIC MALLE: I’m not very different than you. I’m now locking myself up at my house in Long Island where I have Rosa Rugosa, which is giving this floral cleanliness that I am craving by the ocean. I’m also using Russian Nights in the evening, when I meet my family in our drawing room, for the sophisticated comfort that it provides.

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IRMA: Talking about cupboards and wardrobes, how do you achieve the perfect balance between natural smell and a light perfume?
FREDERIC MALLE: I think when you want to put perfume your wardrobe you have to think of the feeling you have when you open the door and the smell that it leaves on your clothes. I choose something called Saint des Saints, the reproduction of the smell of an Indian temple, which infuses my clothing with sandalwood, which I find particularly sophisticated.

IRMA: Can a room scent make you feel less lonely?
FREDERIC MALLE: To me it’s not that they make me feel less lonely, they inhabit the room not to make you less lonely but to make you more comfortable and more at ease. Loneliness has to do with people, not with scent.

IRMA : How can you balance and integrate different scents when living together with a partner and family?
FREDERIC MALLE: I think that you have to be very self-conscious when you are part of a group, so as not to intrude in other people’s spaces. And as much as you have to be respectful, listen to others and not be the only one talking, you should not be the only one smelling. So, each person’s scent can cohabitate with harmony.

IRMA: We are not going to travel for some time, but your perfumes remind me of faraway journeys in the past. Can you give us some example of which holiday destination matches which perfume?
FREDERIC MALLE: Indeed, first Café Society is traveling into my childhood in Paris as it smells like my family’s homes in Paris. Casablanca Lily reminds me of my grandmother’s house in Biarritz. Jurassic Flower smells of this beautiful magnolia tree that we have in our garden, also in Biarritz. It’s like this beautiful white flowered tree against a vivid blue sky. Un Gardenia la Nuit reminds me very much of nights in St Tropez. Russian Nights was really designed after traveling to Moscow and St Petersburg and the very spiritual moments that you have during those long nights in Russia. Country Home reminds me of this house of friends of mine in Scotland, which funnily enough is not that different than the smell that you have at a chalet in the French Alps. 1er Mai is less a destination for me, but a moment. When my father used to buy huge bouquets of Lily of the Valley for my mother on the 1st of May, which is a French tradition. Rosa Rugosa, takes me to the beaches of Long Island.

IRMA: Your perfume Musc Ravageur promises a lot of sensuality and musk is known as an aphrodisiac, our sexuality, partnership and family relations might have changed in the last weeks due to the circumstances. Does Musc Ravageur have a balancing effect? If so, how?
FREDERIC MALLE: I would not call it a balancing effect. It’s keeping up to its promises and it makes confinement even more interesting…

IRMA: How do you make you candles last so long?
FREDERIC MALLE: We put a little bit more perfume, and better perfume, than most people put in the wax. And we use specific wax per candle to ensure the best performance possible.

IRMA: An advice from you how to have your house always perfectly scented?
FREDERIC MALLE: Try to match the style of your house with the perfume that you choose. If you have a clean looking house, find a clean smelling scent. On the contrary, if you have drapery and a very baroque home, you need something way darker and way richer. Houses are like people, you can match them with the right scent.

IRMA: You very often use illustration art for your communication when launching a new perfume. What does illustration and the creation of a perfume have in common?
FREDERIC MALLE: The great difference between us and other companies is that we never work from an illustration or a concept. We work on a perfume, and then when the perfume has a very strong personality, it almost dictates its name to me. And it generates many images in my brain as I am smelling it. The illustrations and images that we use to visualize each perfume are nothing less than the images that I have when working on those perfumes.

IRMA : How should a home smell in Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter?
FREDERIC MALLE: I think a perfume is exactly like a dress. It covers you so in summer you want to be covered in a light way, and you want a fresh perfume for yourself and your house. In the winter, when you want soothing warmth, you need something a bit sweeter, darker, heavier. And then you have things in the middle according to the season and to your mood.

IRMA: If every room in your home could smell differently, what scents would you choose for each one?
FREDERIC MALLE: They could but I think that it would be a little bit exaggerated to do so. I think that one of the great decorating tricks in life is to have a smooth transition from one room to the other, and a continuation so that you have a feeling of unity in a home. Scent is a great way to unite a home, but if this is of any answer to this question – I have a fresh, cleansing scent in my bedroom and then downstairs in my living room I have something warmer and more soothing. In the country I use Russian Nights and in Manhattan I use Cafe Society.

Fréderic Malle. Photo © Pierre Mouton