EXCLUSIVE: Frédéric Malle Is Leaving His Eponymous Fragrance Brand

PARIS — Frédéric Malle is poised to leave his eponymous niche fragrance brand, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle.

“A few words to let you know that today is an important step in my life and in the life of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, as I have decided to part ways with the company at the end of June,” Malle said in a statement.

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“Twenty-five years ago, I started working on Editions de Parfums in an attempt to create a direct link between the best perfumers in the industry and the most demanding public,” he continued. “In doing so, I created a platform where noses could express themselves fully and be so proud of their work that they would want to sign it with their names. I could not have foreseen that what became the first publishing house for ‘noses’ would reveal these artists to the world in such a powerful way, show the public that perfume can be an art form and lay the foundations of the artisanal perfumery movement.

“I owe this success to the talent and generosity of perfumers who followed me then and to the many others who have since enriched our eclectic collection,” Malle said. “I also want to thank all of the other artists as well as our staff, especially the perfume experts working in our stores, who help each visitor find a perfume that will echo their personality. Their daily work makes the total creative freedom that we give to perfumers possible. Last but not least, I want to thank the members of The Estée Lauder Companies, who have developed and protected Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle since 2015, and who I know will continue to implement the founding principles that make the company I created unique.”

Stéphane de La Faverie, executive group president, The Estée Lauder Cos., said: “When Frédéric launched his brand in 2000, he disrupted the fragrance industry by giving a voice and platform to the world’s greatest perfumers. Frédéric’s avant-garde approach to restore freedom and creativity to perfumery resulted in the creation of a true luxury brand of fragrance masterpieces.

“We are proud to have grown Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle alongside Frédéric and will continue to honor his inspiration and uncompromising dedication to perfumery into the future,” continued de La Faverie. “We are so grateful for his collaboration, creativity and vision, and wish him much success.”

Malle indeed pioneered the niche fragrance business, which today — a quarter of a century later — drives the red-hot perfume category.

In 2000, when he decided to open a fragrance store, Malle didn’t just create another luxury brand emporium. Instead, he conjured up a new idea: a fragrance publishing house. Rather than selling books, the boutique carried scents blended by some of the world’s best-known perfumers, and he put their names on each of his namesake brand’s fragrances. Prior to that, perfumers were kept behind the scenes.

The first, 670-square-foot Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle boutique was located in Paris on Rue de Grenelle. From its name to the tomes of Proust and Wilde lining the walls, the publishing theme could not be missed.

Malle gave carte blanche to seven perfumers, including Pierre Bourdon, Jean-Claude Ellena and Michel Roudnitska, to design their dream scents. No one contacted turned down the offer to work with him.

In-store, Malle made choosing a perfume a real experience. Customers could try out the scents the same way professionals do while creating a juice. After being asked about their fragrance preferences by young perfumers employed as sales staff, they can sample scents in columns designed by Malle. Those were hollow, with air jets into which his fragrances can be spritzed.

In June 2000, Malle told WWD, “there is a real market for real perfumery.”

He was right. Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle became a trailblazer.

The brand’s allure was not lost on the Estée Lauder Cos., which announced in November 2014 it had signed to acquire the brand. At the time, the Malle collection had grown to comprise 21 fragrances created by 12 master perfumers worldwide. The brand had just opened its second New York store and counted three in Paris.

“Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle represents the epitome of elegance,” Fabrizio Freda, president and chief executive of Lauder at the time of the acquisition’s announcement, told WWD in November 2014. “Malle’s uncompromising dedication to pure perfumery has established him as the most sought-after collaborator by the world’s most talented perfumers. He has created a true luxury brand that augments our portfolio of prestige beauty products.”

The Acne Studios par Frédéric Malle fragrance.
The Acne Studios par Frédéric Malle fragrance.

In the niche segment, Lauder had just purchased Le Labo in October 2014. Two years later, it added another French label to its coffers — By Kilian — expanding the group’s collection of luxury fragrances.

Malle, whose creative tie-ins have included ones with the late Alber Elbaz and with Pierre Hardy, was granted the 2018 Game Changer award by The Fragrance Foundation in the U.S.

In 2020, to help celebrate the first two decades of his brand, Malle came out with a book of his various inspirations and creations, called “Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle: The First Twenty Years.”

Most recently, in another first, Acne Studio’s debut perfume was created with Malle. The fragrance, Acne Studios par Frédéric Malle, which launched on April 17, was a meeting of minds — and aesthetics.

As Malle leaves Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, he join the ranks of others who have exited the niche perfume brands they founded. Among them are Eddie Roschi and Fabrice Penot from Le Labo, and Sylvie Ganter-Cervasel and Christophe Cervasel, from Atelier Cologne, which was acquired by L’Oréal in 2016.

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