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.
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?..."
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!..."
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..."|
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.