Perfume By Personality: Frédéric Malle’s Guide To Fragrance Gifting


“It’s always tricky, buying perfume for someone else,” says Frédéric Malle. As the architect behind Editions de Parfums—a collection of nineteen original scents created in collaboration with the world’s top noses—he appreciates the value of a beautifully crafted fragrance. Still, he insists, when it comes to gifting fragrance for the holidays, it’s not about playing it safe.

“A lot of people give Chanel No. 5  for the same reason they might buy an Apple computer—because they think they can’t go wrong,” says Malle. “But perfume is more personal than that. It’s not about choosing a ‘good’ fragrance. It’s about choosing the one that’s a good match with the person who will be wearing it.”

To tip the odds in your favor, Malle swears by a few simple tricks. First, remember: “Perfume is not an intellectual thing. It’s very primal. You have to use what you already know about someone, but you also need to trust your instincts,” he says. “When I’m smelling a fragrance, I try to really imagine the person wearing it. You can guess that someone who wears white all the time, for instance, might like the idea of lightness. She is going to want something that’s pure and airy and transparent.” Try to envision her wearing a heavy, spicy Oriental fragrance, he counters, “and it just doesn’t fit.” Likewise, it stands to reason that a sportif-chic friend who spends her holiday marathon-training in Montauk and is obsessed with the scent of saltwater-kissed skin may gravitate to an equally fresh perfume.

Something else to keep in mind, says Malle, is the question of occasion. If your sister wears fragrance only for major parties or events, “a squeaky-clean perfume does not make sense.”  In that case, he suggests something with a little more weight. “When you give it to her, you could say that you were thinking it would be something great for evening,” he adds.  (Note: According to Malle, a smooth delivery is imperative when presenting a fragrance. “When you give someone a perfume, it’s sort of telling them how you see them,” he admits with a laugh. “You have to hedge your bets.”)

There is, of course, one fairly surefire way to bypass the hassle of holiday guesswork altogether. “If you know what kind of perfume someone has worn in the past and you go to a specialty store, like Barneys New York or Aedes de Venustas, for example, the fragrance expert there should be able to suggest something similar,” says Malle. “That saves time.”

So does a good cheat sheet, which is why Vogue has assembled a handful of Malle’s best suggestions—along with some of our own—that are guaranteed to satisfy every personality on your list.

THE MINIMALISTperfume-personality-2_145521768190.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Kiehl’s Aromatic Blends Orange Flower & Lychee Fragrant Body Spray, $75;

perfume-personality-3_145524751624.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver Eau de Parfum, $215; “One of the most minimalist fragrances that I know. It is built around only a few notes [of white heliotrope, iris, and honey.]”

perfume-personality-4_14552491711.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Serge Lutens L’Eau Eau de Parfum, $105;

perfume-personality-5_145524382391.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini Cologne Absolue, $165;


perfume-personality-7_14552569488.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Tom Ford Café Rose Eau de Parfum, $495;

perfume-personality-8_1455256249.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Byredo Black Saffron Eau de Parfum, $220,

img-perfumepersonality9_15173140963.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Estée Lauder Youth-Dew Eau de Parfum, $34; “Lots of patchouli with spice, which is quite bohemian. Iconic.”


perfume-personality-12_1455192345.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Heeley Sel Marin Eau de Parfum, $148;

perfume-personality-13_145519963274.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Les Exclusifs de Chanel Bel Respiro, $110; “This perfume has a green transparency, a quiet but brisk [quality] that’s very sophisticated.”

perfume-personality-14_145519549398.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay Cologne, $60;

perfume-personality-15_145519741108.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte Unisex Cologne, $107; “Zesty, sparkling, clean. Preppy.”


perfume-personality-17_145520388703.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Comme des Garçons Amazingreen Eau de Parfum, $95;

perfume-personality-18_145520304251.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Prada Giant Candy Deluxe Parfum, $3,500;

perfume-personality-19_145520784180.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Issey Miyake Pleats Please Perfume, $92;

Marc Jacobs Dot Eau de Parfum Pour Femme, $69;

FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Dior Miss Dior Eau de Parfum, $82; “Lots of lily-of-the-valley and rose.”

perfume-personality-21_145521611125.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Balmain Ivoire de Balmain Eau de Parfum, $115;

perfume-personality-22_145522738780.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Rodin Olio Lusso Perfume, $220;

perfume-personality-23_145522545133.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Chloé Bianca Solid Perfume necklace, $65;

perfume-personality-24_145522889022.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert Extrême, $65; “Sensitive, green, and quite unisex.”

perfume-personality-25_145522323843.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme Eau de Parfum, $77;


FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Rochas Femme Eau de Toilette, $79; “A beautiful prune aspect, which is something not used in perfumes much anymore, but with a patchouli chypre feel. It’s really of another era.”

perfume-personality-27_145523498323.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Aftelier Roses Solid Perfume in Small Sterling Niello-Enameled Watch Case, $225;

FRÉDÉRIC’S PICK: Caron Pour un Homme Eau de Toilette; $45; “A lavender fragrance, which is a slightly old-fashioned base for a perfume. It has a nice musky smell, like something an older gentleman might wear.”

perfume-personality-28_145523766600.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Arquiste Boutonnière No. 7 Eau de Parfum, $195;

perfume-personality-29_145523226779.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2Guerlain Liu Perfumed Shimmer Powder Face & Body, $88;

source by Catherine Piercy/


  1. Pingback: An Evening with Frederic Malle: A Lila Das Gupta Interview | scent bound

  2. Pingback: An Evening with Frederic Malle: A Lila Das Gupta Interview – scentbound

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