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A peek into the world of Frédéric Malle

In June 2000, with the opening of the first Editions de Parfums boutique at 37 rue de Grenelle in Paris, Frédéric Malle disrupted all the prevailing codes and conventions of perfume distribution. In his characteristic way, at once free, impassioned, and exacting, he reinvented the presentation and sale of perfumes.

Press clippings from the Editions de Parfums Archives

For this perfume publisher, the brand is everything—an ambitious enterprise that goes all the way from the juice to the boutique itself, taking in the design of the bottle and its label along the way. Frédéric Malle himself designed the plain, pure bottle whose aim is to highlight the perfume itself, bearing its title as well the author’s name. For each perfume has an evocative title, a title which, like that of a novel or a poem, invites you on a journey into emotions that connect with and touch your innermost self. Angeliques sous la Pluie, Dans tes Bras, En Passant, French Lover, Portrait of a Lady

Accordingly, the box that protects the bottle is conceived of as a book cover that sets you dreaming as to what might be contained within. As a publisher, Frédéric Malle is inspired by the designs and traditions of French publishing. And as a denizen of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, he turns to the greats, Gallimard and Editions de Minuit, from whom he has adopted a minimalist aesthetic and bold colors—red for the Perfume collection, blue for the Home collection he created in 2009.

In the boutiques, the collection is presented on shelves just as books would be, while on the wall are hung portraits of the authors, either line drawings or photographs by Guillaume Luisetti and Brigitte Lacombe.

Boutique at 140 avenue Victor Hugo, Paris

But just highlighting the perfumes and their authors is not enough for Frédéric Malle. As a lover of perfume, his ambition is to do justice to the masterpieces of his collection. This is why he created the “smelling columns,” for which he holds the patent. A totally new way of appreciating a perfume as a whole, of taking in the full vision of a perfume, as in the test chambers found in perfume labs.

Finally, so as to respect the alchemy and the quality of the perfumes, they are kept safe in refrigerated cabinets which they only leave once they have found their buyer.

For Frédéric Malle, the attention lavished on his boutiques, the places where the perfumes can be discovered, is anything but an added extra. It’s not just a stylistic gesture, it’s a matter of receiving customers in a space thoughtfully designed to make them feel truly welcome. A place made to encourage dialogue with experienced perfume specialists, capable of offering personalized advice to help them find among the different works in the collection those that will be a true echo of their personality.

Interior of boutique at 898 Madison Avenue, New York

Against the grain of mass-market perfumes sold off the shelf, Editions de Parfums was a pioneer of this return to a more intimate experience of perfumes.

A maverick as creative as he is strategic, Frédéric Malle expresses his brand concept in as many ways as there are locations. From Paris to Shanghai, where the brand has just opened its first boutique, the fundamentals of the brand are expressed consistently, in a space dedicated to reception and advice though evoking the professional laboratories with its refrigerated cabinets and smelling columns. But visit each of the brand's boutiques as you travel, and you will soon understand that Frédéric Malle is an aesthete who celebrates and encourages the creativity of the interior designers he works with. In 2000, for the first Paris boutique, it was Andrée Putman who advised him, with Olivier Lempereur in charge of realizing the design. In 2014, Steven Holl designed the second New York boutique on Greenwich Avenue. In 2017, a new sculptural interpretation was proposed by Jakob + MacFarlane for the fourth Paris boutique of Editions de Parfums located in the Marais.

Jakob + MacFarlane and Frédéric Malle by Brigitte Lacombe

Steven Hall and Frédéric Malle by Brigitte Lacombe

Over the years, as most recently with the latest boutique in Shanghai designed by the French agency Ciguë, the brand has created new interpretations of the Editions de Parfums concept in each location, but always with beauty, elegance and creativity—values particularly dear to its founder's heart.