Saturday, May 17, 2014

Finding Wall Street Funny - Part 3

Have Nasal Dexterity, Will 'Work'.

They say when you lose one sense the others grow more acute. Nowhere is this postulate more evident than in the case of our perfumer friend Frederic Malle, made famous in Part Deux of our WSJ Magazine deconstruction.

This two-page fairy tale about Monsieur Malle would have us believe his super olfactory powers are genetic in nature and nurtured through the child labor imposed on him by his own mother. But considering he would on any day (let alone the day of his big interview with the Wall Street Journal Magazine) wear that suede Bordeaux and ox piss suit with a black-and-white checkered shirt and a tie as wide as the Seine and as depressing as the winter sky over the shores of Calais, it stands to reason that poor eyesight was the true catalyst for his supposed nasal dexterity.

And it is Frere Frederic's nasal dexterity that has brought him his success. Not as a wine connoisseur can tell at a whiff the difference between a 1986 Chateau Cos D'Estournel Saint Estephe and a 1989 Chateau La Conseillante Pomerol, but as the annoying guy two cubicles down who sticks his nose in the you-know-what of every person up and down the supply chain. That color scheme he wears is a tribute to, he says (and a thinly-veiled marketing ploy directed at, he doesn't say) big-time French book publisher (and, we can assume, heavy wine consumer) Editions Gallimard. Malle also endeavors to create fragrances "inspired by real people, such as his aunt or his father's charismatic best friend." I could never claim nasal dexterity, but I'd certainly bet a perfume that smells like anyone's father's best friend is destined for the personal care section at Wal-Mart.

"Mon frere, que ponce vous a.... Excuse moi, Monsieur Bruno,
why do you take ze perfume on ze tongue?..."
Whatever his father's charismatic friend smells like, something Friendophile Freddie is doing apparently works. Because assuming the rest of the article is fair representation of his professional life, there's not much else that one could call work.

Atop the second page of our expose on Frederic Malle we see him enjoying a light breakfast - Fage yogurt, some apple and English breakfast tea - to "maintain a clear palate" it reads. Pardon my French, but if you want a clear palate wouldn't it make more sense to just have a Perrier? There must be something secret in the way he eats that Fage yogurt.

"Do not talk to me about atmospere, zere is an avocado
in my Matryoshka doll!..."
So he gets his clear palate to his office and Skypes with his underlings in Paris - to make sure they haven't gone on strike - and then whispers with his assistant about his upcoming travel plans.

He goes to a fragrance manufacturer to "sniff scents" - next to a colleague who, evidently, prefers to taste them.

After a meeting with an architect, during which he puzzles over the rotten avocado someone left inside his Matryoshka doll, he heads uptown for a well-earned drink with Alejandra Cicognani, a high-profile publicist whose client list is noticeably devoid of any reference to Frederic Malle's perfume empire.

"No, I... Well, I... Yes, I will hold... Oui..."
On closer inspection we see that the photo of Frederic Malle and his drink is devoid of anyone named Alejandra Cicognani.

I'm no perfumer. Nor am I an expert on articles about perfumers. I didn't even know perfumer was a word until I read this article.

And after all this I still don't know what makes a great perfumer. Yet there's Frederic, a WSJ Magazine demi-god and purveyor of sweet-smelling snake oil.

I should get a publicist. Or maybe I just need to start treating my Fage yogurt like the magic potion it is.

NEXT UP: We (meaning I) will break down the comments of WSJ's six "taste luminaries," five of whom show extremely bad taste by talking mainly about themselves.