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.

Dries Van Noten and Frederic Malle interview

Dear Scent Diary,

Click on the link in the text to see the interview.

Click on the link in the text to see the interview.

Okay, I think the blind buy urge for this scent has passed. But only because I’ve planned a trip to Vancouver this month and expect to sniff and buy. It’s nice to have control over my impulses again. Here’s an interview with Dries and Freddie that’s a bit too long for its own good but definitely worth a watch for as long as it your interest carries you.

Blind buy danger: Dries Van Noten Frederic Malle

Dear Scent Diary,

nd.17481I know it’s not wise to buy online without sniffing first – $200 is a lot to bet on my fickle nose loving this fragrance. But let me make my case, Diary. The reviews I’ve read say it’s a gorgeous sandalwood gourmand that’s long lasting, but not overpowering. You know how much I adore sandalwood, Diary. And you know I love sandalwood for its buttery quality, and this sounds like that aspect has only been enhanced. Here’s a transcript of a conversation I had with someone on Facebook Fragrance Friends who had just received hers (also a blind buy):

Her: “SOTD: The new Malle/Dries perfume came yesterday. Just beautiful!!!!!!!!!!! Warm, spicy, creamy. Def a vanilla perfume but for grown-ups, the sandalwood is gorgeous and does thread itself thoughout the entire perfume start to finish.”

Me: “More vanilla pod than vanilla cupcake? Equal amounts vanilla and sandalwood or more vanilla?”

Her: “More vanilla cupcake but truly not too sweet. I am not usually a fan of goumand let alone gourmand vanillas; ie. I do not like, actually dislike, Guerlain’s SDV or even Luten’s Un Bois Vanille but this one with the citrus, sandalwood and other spices evens out the cupcake type vanilla used in it. The Grain de Musc review mentions smelling something freshly baked vs. a full in your face sweetness and I would say this is very accurate. Mmmm to my nose I get more sandalwood but that may be because this sandalwood is sooooooooooooo good. I can’t think of a sandalwood recently that’s this good. Maybe I notice it more than the vanilla because of that but that may be just my nose. I will say I think the sandalwood as more of a major player in this as it weaves its way from inception to drydown.”

See Diary? I’m dead meat.