Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Persolaise Review: Dries Van Noten from Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle (Bruno Jovanovic; 2013)

After the phenomenal, double-whammy success of Géranium Pour Monsieur and Portrait Of A Lady, Frederic Malle had to consider his next move carefully. The latter scent in particular - a monumental rose floating on storm-clouds of incense - earned so much admiration from critics and customers that expectations  for the brand's next release were almost unreasonably high. Well, the next release has now appeared and, as has been widely reported, it marks something of a sideways move. Rather than being another entry in the main portfolio, the latest creation marks the first of a series of collaborations with artists in different fields, in this case, the Belgian fashion designer, Dries Van Noten.

The most overt consequence of this venture is the absence of the perfumer's name on the packaging. Perhaps Malle thought that three monikers would be overkill, but personally, I think it's a shame that the very brand which raised the profile of olfactory artists couldn't find a way to give Bruno Jovanovic more public credit for his work here. Because credit is something he certainly deserves. Drawing inspiration from Malle's observation that Noten's work juxtaposes disparate elements, Jovanovic has melded the buttery, skin-friendly sophistication of Mysore sandalwood with the equally buttery, sweet scents of the desserts of Noten's native Belgium (lots of caramelised Speculoos here) and lifted the whole with lemon and bergamot.

The links between confections and sandalwood have, of course, been explored in the past. Not too long ago, Serge Lutens cooked up an especially calorific feast with Jeux De Peau and, more recently, he allowed his sweet tooth to take him to interesting places with the wonderful Santal Majuscule. But wearing DVN makes it clear that Malle's intention wasn't to create a Lutensian monster. This is a scent that's determined to avoid the path treaded by Portrait. The dessert elements provide a modicum of sillage, but in the main, you have to get to know someone pretty well before you can detect this stuff on them. When you do, you're unlikely to be disappointed. Gently bolstered by musks and patchouli, the sandalwood note is a delight: smooth, velvety and effortlessly confident, it proves that no matter how convincing the much-used synthetic substitutes may be, they are crude and garish in comparison to the real stuff.

In much the same way as Malle's own French Lover, DVN chooses to remain circumspect. Like a figure in a Panama hat and crumpled white linen sauntering into an Indian sunset, it doesn't attract excessive attention to itself when it's first encountered, but it lingers in the mind for hours, hovering at the edge of memory with quiet, unavoidable persistence. Bravo to Monsieur Jovanovic... and co.

[Review based on a sample provided by Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle in 2013.]



  1. Dear Persolaise

    An excellent review that his aroused much curiosity here.

    What the Lord giveth with one hand...

    The Dandy is intrigued by the return of true sandalwood, but a little concerned by the prospect of another desert fragrance.

    So the question: just how sweet is it?

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Dandy,

      Thanks very much indeed. DVN certainly wasn't too sweet to me, and I think I'm fairly sensitive to excessive sugariness in perfumes. It is nowhere near Angel territory, and it isn't a Guerlain-esque patisserie either. You know what I'm going to say, don't you? You'll have to smell it for yourself... and then come back and let us know how it fared on your sugar-o-meter.


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