It hates me: Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle

Dear Scent Diary,

I’m a bit stunned. I’ve been anticipating a mutual love affair with this scent from the moment it appeared on Frederic Malle’s website. I’ve even had moments of blind-buy weakness after having Facebook fragrance group conversations with those who adore it.

If this fragrance loves you, it will put its sandalwood foot forward and let its vanilla gourmandiness support, not star.


If it hates you, as it does me, it will try to choke you to death in the car on the way home from picking up your decant at the post office with a cloud of overly sweet vanilla cake frosting/marshmallow/cupcake/waffle cone.

Unknown-1Once sprayed on skin, the sweetness persists, but now buttressed by a burning rubber accord that takes about a half hour to die down. Mercifully, things do settle and I can sense the sandalwood stepping in, as if being the voice of reason and pulling all the other notes by the collar, off my face. From that point on, everything becomes much more civil.

t.33Now that the sandalwood has things under control, the sweet vanilla frosting becomes more sheer and the freshly baked white cake it’s spread on top of starts to dominate. At this point in the development, I’m so olfactorially relieved that I think for a second that I could actually be friends with this fragrance. Maybe just polite acquaintances, we’ll see.

The perfume universe obviously thought I needed to be taught a lesson and decided to do it with this fragrance. I’m clearly overly susceptible to ‘the idea’ of a perfume from a well-respected niche house and the hype that often warrants. I needed a memorable reminder that fragrance preference is supremely individual and is based on a lifetime of perceptions and associations, making it impossible for any two people to have the exact same experience with a perfume. I also needed a good slap upside the head regarding skin chemistry. I don’t recall hearing anyone mention a ‘burning rubber accord’.

As evidence, these bloggers had completely different experiences with this scent: Now Smell This, Grain de Musc, Bois de Jasmin.

I was given a rather ungentle talking to by Undina of Undina’s Looking Glass in the comments of one of my posts where I considered blind buying this perfume. She was so right. Lesson learned.


8 responses to “It hates me: Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle

  1. Oh, I’m sorry it was a disappointment. But, on the bright side, it’s just a decant. If you dare, try it again in a while – it might be different now when you do not expect much. If you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to test it any more, I don’t think it’ll be hard to find somebody who wants to swap it for something else you might like more.

    • I think I must be overly sensitive to the vanilla/baked goods note in DVN because even having the decant in the same room starts to suffocate me. I’m going to have to put it in a sealed bag in a closet I don’t use very often! Maybe I’m pregnant? 😉 Anyway, you’re right. It’s just a swappable decant.

  2. Thank God you didn’t buy it blind. See – it paid off to see our impressions right, I didn’t like it either.

  3. I had the same unpleasant experience with Dries Van Noten, despite my initial excitement about its gourmand underpinnings with scent notes that were right up my alley AND the perfumista love in the blogosphere. I was all prepared to buy a huge 20 mL unsniffed decant but that fell through. A few weeks ago, I went to Barneys and got a generous sample. I tried it several times and each time I used it, I felt like the perfume was suffocating me despite a tiny spritz! The first time, I blamed it on another perfume that I wore the day before (FM Iris Poudre) which I love…then I blamed it on my shampoo/body wash (L’Occitane The Vert), then I blamed it on the weather…finally, I decided that it had to be the Dries Van Noten and so my sample is on the verge of being banished into hajusuuri’s perfume doghouse…

    • Hi hajusuuri,
      It definitely sounds like we had very similar experiences with DVN! Thank goodness your decant fell through. And thanks for sharing your experience – it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  4. Das

    Super bummer! But whew, no giant bottle to deal with.
    Besides beautifully compelling reviews, I’m susceptible to the cheap blind buy from Marshall’s/TJMaxx. But I gave away ~6-10 FBs from that early mistake and the $total could have purchased something really beautiful. So now I force myself to walk away and/or commit to trying a sample before going back for the 50+% off deals.
    Hmm… perhaps we could arrange a swaperoo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: