Le Parfum de Thérèse 
Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (2000)

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Le Parfum de Thérèse by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

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About Le Parfum de Thérèse by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

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Frederic Malle
Packaging / Bottle Design

Created by the legendary perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska for his wife. This had never been available to the public until launched as part of Malle's Editions range.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Reviews of Le Parfum de Thérèse by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

There are 38 reviews of Le Parfum de Thérèse by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle.

Sometimes perfumers do their best work on briefs. With M. Roudnitska that means Femme, Diorissimo, Cristalle, Eau Sauvage, or Diorella. I know I'm not in the majority here, but this perfume, carefully engineered as it is, is a watery cucumber going soft in the vegetable keeper. It deliquesces on me. I sniffed and grimaced for three long hours waiting for things to improve, but no, vegetable keeper needing a scrub out LPdT remained, despite the rose, despite the leather.

Other people like aquatics and can wear them without smelling like a garbage pail, so I give this a neutral rating. It is very well done, is seasonless, and a daytime perfume that actually IS a perfume. But I smell like Oscar the Grouch in this-and probably sound like him too.

Monet's garden in Giverny, all of the water lilies, the fragrance of the pond and the surrounding blooms: this is the immediate image in my mind. Edmund Roudnitska's ode to his wife is touching to say the least, but as with any perfume, Le Parfum de Therese can transcend its narrative and make a very personal impression on its wearer. For me, it's misty and mysterious, like getting lost in reverie.

We have the aqueous opening, translucent tangerine with most notably Roudnitska's signature melon and cucumber, which was also famously rendered in Diorella. Here, they don't seem quite over ripened as with that classic, they are a bit more crisp, buttressed with a rose and shaded with prune compote in the heart. I also sense suggestions of jasmine. It speaks to my penchant for greenness contrasted with juicy sweetness. However, as it develops, the juicy qualities eventually fade into a drier, leathery effect.

Ever so slightly earthy and animalic, the dry down finds the prune eclipsing with the melon and the green receding into darker shades of cedar. In this shadowy coda, it is realized that there is this ingenious balance to it all: nothing pushed forward forcefully against any other element, the development, certainly not linear, however has these seamless transitions that underline the beauty of each element in congress. It's brilliant.

An instant classic!
Light as a breeze!
A beautiful coworker complimented on this, she never complimented me on anything.
She loved it and I truly love this futuristic masterpiece.
It's a melancholic trip to the 50's.
Long duration but discreet sillage.

If Diorella was a concerto, this would be a symphony, it takes the same idea and expands it to the max.
There's no point trying to name the chords, it's a kaleidoscope of merging colours.
It's fascinating, strange, beautiful even, but not pretty; not a bauble to garner compliments. More likely, it would draw comments like "What's that weird smell? I've never smelled anything like that before."
And you could tell them "It's a love song by an olfactive philosopher."

Le Parfum de Thérèse is the most similar to FM - Superstitious from their offer, but again they are different enough that you need them both in your collection. Le Parfum de Thérèse is a juicy, fruity and retro creation.

The gentleman who made this perfume for his wife (Therese) was rejected by Dior and some other companies at the time in the 1950s because the scent was too futuristic and different from the existing offer back then. For the next 40+ years, the perfume was worn exclusively by his wife - Therese. After Edmond's death, Therese gave Frederic a "secret recipe" so that the scent would be remembered forever. Since Frederic is not afraid of innovative and different scents - Le Parfum de Thérèse was gladly accepted for the initial FM line-up!

Melon, plum, vetiver, a little rose and leather and a lot of cucumber in the opening.
Although the name states that it is exclusively for women - it is not.

Sillage: around you, near to skin
Longevity: on the skin 8+ hours, on clothes 24+ hours

The tale of Le Parfum de Thérèse (2000) is quite fascinating. The legendary Edmond Roudnitska composed this on his own, and originally offered it to Dior in the 1950's, where it was rejected for being too different from current market concepts, then Edmond continued working on it through to the 1960's where it was submitted to Guy LaRoche for release as Fidji (1966). The creative director for Guy Laroche felt it was also too futuristic and not in tune with the island theme of the scent, and the idea submitted by Josephine Catapano (later to work for Estée Lauder) was chosen. Thereafter, the composition which would later be named Le Parfum de Thérèse would be used exclusively by (you guessed it), Edmond's wife Thérèse Roudnitska. It was she who released the formula into Frédéric Malle's hands for a launch perfume in his then-new Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, and so here we are. Smelling Le Parfum de Thérèse now is like smelling what could have been, knowing this was offered to not one but two houses and rejected both times for being too different. As a member of the Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle collection, it is the only perfume the existence of which predates the collection and wasn't specifically made for the collection or with Malle's direct involvement. Frédéric merely curates this creation, albeit admittedly also profiting off of fans longing for a piece of former Roudnitska unobtanium.

You can see aspects of Le Parfum de Thérèse cannibalized by Roudnitska for releases, but most notably the jasmine hedione later used in Dior Eau Sauvage (1966) and the molecule calone 1951, which has a melon-like scent on its own that was abused by perfumers in the 90's, but was used extensively by Roudnitska way back in the 1950's with Le Parfum de Thérèse. In fact, he reworked much of the top and heart of this perfume for the masculine market Mario Valentino Ocean Rain (1990), which would be his final composition. Calone and hedione open Le Parfum de Thérèse, smelling almost like a mix between Ocean Rain and Sauvage, with none of the green aspects of the latter and added pepper. Some mandarin orange sweetness moves into violet and rose with the novel plum accord he fashioned for Dior. From there, the dry down gets much more period-correct with oakmoss, vetiver, cedar, and isobutyl quinoline leather in typical chypre fashion for the time. This is a beautiful window into an alternate reality where modern aromachemicals merge with traditional bases and unconventional thinking, but for hardcore long-in-the-tooth vintage purists, Le Parfum de Thérèse won't do, which is ironic because it is not a new design, just one several decades ahead of its time. Le Parfum de Thérèse is relatively light considering its ingredients, but long-lasting, and unisex enough by accident due to the fresh fruity top, floral heart, and woody base, that anyone open-minded can pull it off. Some may call this the ultimate quintessential Roudnitska kept hidden from us all, but I don't see it that way because it also lacks his penchant for sensual, fleshy, virile animalic accords.

This was and still is mostly an experiment in pushing creative boundaries, and was/is pretty extreme even compared to some of his other far out-there works (most of which are discontinued), and thus never really "had a home". Christian Dior let him more or less get away with whatever he wanted in that golden era, which is how something like this even happened, because outside that, Roudnitska was still beholden to making money no matter how irreverent to all that he may have seemed. In the hands of Malle, it exists as it probably should have in the 50's or 60's: as a limited niche perfume with a price tag which separates the serious from the casual fans. You've got to test, then save up, and make a point out of visiting a Malle counter to get this perfume, and somebody who has will likely cherish it all the more knowing how special it was to him, his wife, and the fans of his artistic legacy. I won't say this perfume is specifically "worth it" for the price performance-wise, and stylistically it's a strange retro-futurism piece that contains elements both popular in the 1950's and 1990's, but since we're decades removed from the latter, may just feel "old" now to some people. Whether owning this fresh, fruity, floral, aromatic blip in history is worth the luxury-tier price is up to you, but I still suggest giving it a sniff if only for the experience, as there's really little else like it in the world, which also holds true for many Roudnitska perfumes. Thumbs up.

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