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Are You Trying To Seduce Me?

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The Violet Files

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With the introduction of a luminous new fragrance, Rose & Cuir, Frederic Malle reveals the secret to smelling irresistible.

Written By
April Long
Are You Trying To Seduce Me

No one knows sexy like Frédéric Malle. With Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, the fragrance impresario has worked with the world’s most esteemed noses to create many of the most devastatingly seductive scents ever spritzed. You know them: Carnal Flower, that voluptuous vixen of a tuberose; Musc Ravageur, that powerfully hot-to-trot musk; Dans Mon Lit, that romantic rosewater linen spray that makes going to bed a sensory delight, even when you’re solo. “Some people have a sense of balance, I have a sense of what makes a perfume sexy,” Malle says. “It’s like a compass. That's why perfumers want to work with me—because they know I have that in me.”

Now, meet his latest must-have masterpiece: Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Rose & Cuir. Created by former Hermès perfumer—and industry legend—Jean-Claude Ellena, Rose & Cuir tells a tantalizing story as it unfolds on the skin. First, a gorgeous bloom of rose, which is in fact constructed from a rare geranium mingled with timut pepper, a bright, fruity note never before used in perfumery. Then a radiant, warm glow of leather (or cuir, en française), courtesy of a forgotten molecule last used in some of the best fragrances of the 1940s, provides a slow-burning, sensual sillage. “Jean-Claude is renowned for making very understated, very pared-down perfumes,” says Malle, “but this is more expressive. It’s more colorful, more sensuous, and a bit more extroverted. It’s a new period in his art—true to his style but a new variant of it.”

Rose & Cuir’s refinement is partly what makes it so alluring—and even though it’s supremely elegant (an Ellena trademark), it’s just as erotic as a more ostentatiously vavavoom perfume. “There are so many ways a perfume can be sexy, just as there are so many ways for a person to be sexy,” Malle says. “It can be musky, it can be woody, it can be even crisp. Musc Ravageur is sexy because it’s warm, ambery, and quite animalic, like raw sex. Portrait of a Lady, for example, is more subtle. It romantically takes you in its arms with rose notes. And Lipstick Rose could be right for cuddling. It has a sensuous, soft feeling, like the filling in a marshmallow.”

The perfume one chooses speaks volumes about their personality, says Malle. “It's a language that people speak without really knowing what it means. Boring people wear boring perfumes—they always ask for the best-seller. People who are very loud often wear loud perfume, and so on.” The ultimate secret to securing a signature scent that says come-hither? Finding one that resonates most perfectly with your true character. “You might put on a perfume that smells amazing on your best friend, and find it’s totally wrong for you,” Malle says. “I believe it's all about pairing a potentially sexy perfume with the person who is right for it. Some perfumes may be sexier than others, but I think the real magic is getting the right match.”

In the end, this might be exactly why fragrances from Editions de Frédéric Malle are so exquisite, and so adept at whispering sweet nothings to those who smell them: Throughout the creation process, he and the perfumer are thinking of the wearer as much as the scent. “Whenever I make a perfume I want it to be deeply sexy and deeply magnetic and deeply, profoundly addictive. I want the person who wears it to become addictive to others,” Malle says. “I create scenarios with perfumers, and the perfume is part of the scenario, but in a very well-studied, specific way each time. I always think, would I want to have dinner with that person? Would so and so fall in love with that person? It's like writing a love story. It's got to be different each time, but the end always has to be torrid.”

 Whenever I make a perfume I want it to be deeply sexy and deeply magnetic and deeply, profoundly addictive. I want the person who wears it to become addictive to others.