February 21, 2013
Dries van Noten
Eccentric Belgian fashion designer Dries van Noten has joined forces with distinguished perfume curator Frédéric Malle to create a fragrance that emblematizes van Noten's innovative and eclectic approach to couture. Pairing checker-print with plaid, camouflage against flowers, van Noten threw out the rule book and creates from a place where emotion trumps regulation. Such is the case with his eponymous fragrance from Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, launching this week.
Dries van Noten Spring 2013 RTW
I was lucky enough to get my nose on this much-anticipated new release. Getting to know this fragrance is like getting to know this man, as I was, admittedly unfamiliar with van Noten's style. Remember, I'm the guy in the $300 fragrance and the $30 suit. But wearing this scent was the perfect introduction to understanding his vision and realizing that there really are no rules when it comes to creating art. In a discussion video released by the perfume house (http://vimeo.com/59976119), Monsieur Malle speaks of his new partner, "It is really made as a portrait of Dries and I don't think this fragrance could have been sold for someone else. It fits him." After exploring the world of Dries van Noten, I have found that it certainly does fit him, yet this portrait is clearly painted by Frédéric Malle. It fits them. Using fragrance notes rather than textiles, this perfume models van Noten's eclecticism while the whole is purely Malle.
The nose behind the fragrance is Bruno Jovanovic, known for his fairly mainstream releases such as Abercrombie and Fitch Fierce and Calvin Klein's IN2U. Here, he takes fairly traditional perfume notes such as bergamot, sandalwood, jasmine, tonka, cashmere woods, saffron, vanilla, and musk and creates something entirely unique and completely unclassifiable. Familiar, yet entirely original.
The scent opens fresh and bright, sparkling with bergamot and citron like crisp linen dried in the summer sun. Real sandalwood is threaded throughout the development, upon which layers of saffron and vanilla are applied, changing its style entirely. The vanilla and nutmeg add a warmth and coziness like a perfectly-oversized cashmere sweater. The spiciness of clove and saffron bridge the main components, an unexpected finishing touch, a last look in the mirror. It's a fresh scent layered over a spicy oriental layered over a gourmand. It seems van Noten has convinced the folks at Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle to toss out their rule book as well. To no one’s surprise, it's perfectly unisex and perfectly all-season.
Though this fragrance was created to exemplify the style of Dries van Noten, I believe it has an equal amount of Frédéric Malle's DNA. This perfume smells like walking into a Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums boutique. The cool freshness of L'eau D'Hiver, the musky sweet vanilla of Musc Ravageur, the dark woods of Bois D'Orage. In no way am I saying the scent is a re-hash, no way. It is simply Malle's manifestation of van Noten's polystylism. No one should be bound to one style, one set of rules or one color palette. Just ask: does it look good? Or, in this case: does it smell good? To this humble fragrance-lover (who is starting to rethink the $30 suit) the answer is yes.
Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle has above-average sillage and longevity. A 100ml bottle retails for $265.00, while the 50ml bottle retails for $185.00.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, NYC.
-Michael Devine, Contributor