Jasmine, Plum and Dr. Pepper: Le Parfum de Therese
I was drawn to Frederic Malle’s line, Editions de Parfums, as soon as I heard of it. Of course, there’s the connection with literature–he calls the perfumers “authors,” and actually puts each one’s name on the bottle of the fragrance he or she created. I even love the black labels with red trim, inspired by the book bindings of a publishing house. Plus, Malle’s fragrances seem designed for a “signature scent” sensibility, rather than the “I need a tuberose to round out my collection” approach that seems to dominate today. I am a would-be scent monogamist, and when the Malle website says that a great fragrance has its “character, its colors, its rightful wearer,” it makes me want to discover which one I am the rightful wearer of. Kind of like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter. In fact, the Frederic Malle folks have their own service in which you answer a questionnaire and they recommend scents for you. I will tell you which they recommended for me when we get there.
Malle himself offered pointers in Elle magazine (May 2017), which I will use as a checklist here. The right fragrance should:
- Suit your personality. This is not as simple as it sounds, as I have loved some scents which were emphatically not “me,” and ended up feeling as if I were wearing someone else’s clothes.
- Feel comfortable to wear. Many scents give me sensory overload when they’ve been on my skin for awhile–even fragrances I love. I plan to adopt a zero-tolerance policy here–even a moment of slight discomfort will disqualify a fragrance. My criterion: If I had to get up early (something I have loathed all my life) and go somewhere, would I be reluctant to spray this perfume on in my frazzled and crabby condition?
- And, of course, smell good to you. Again, seems like a no-brainer, but I tend to overthink things and go for something that I think I should like. This is how I ended up wearing Poison for most of the 80’s.
Which brings us, by way of plums, to our first scent to consider, Le Parfum de Therese (perfumer: Edmond Roudnitska).
Top notes: melon, mandarin, cucumber
Middle notes: plum, rose, jasmine
Base notes: vetiver, patchouli
Edmond Roudnitska created this fragrance for his wife, Therese, in 1961. It was not released to the public at the time, because no one was really doing fruit notes back then.
I should love this stuff. I like the idea of a fruity scent that is nevertheless sophisticated, a “dark” fruity fragrance if you will, like my beloved Mitsouko. Unfortunately, the opening of Therese gets under my skin, as well as on it. I blame jasmine–never a favorite of mine, and plum, which is the main note (the perfume was actually called Prune as a working title). I have occasionally enjoyed some of the sweeter varieties of plum, but basically I find this fruit too spicy. The plum note also unfortunately reminds me of Dr. Pepper, which makes the drydown smell a bit silly to me–especially since I don’t really get rose or patchouli from this.
So, according to our three criteria, my final assessment is:
- Does this suit my personality? Well, it doesn’t not suit it. I’m going to be liberal in my interpretations here, unlike when it comes to–
- Comfort: Zero tolerance, remember. I do find the opening a bit irritating. If I were to spray this on at 7 in the morning, I’d want to hold my breath for the first few minutes.
- Does this suit my scent preferences? After the first few minutes, I like it, but I don’t love it.
Overall rating: 3 out of 5
Final verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Le Parfum de Therese.