Le Parfum de Thérèse is a perfume with a history. A romantic history. Therefore I was always drawn to this perfume, but it never really clicked for me until recently. Strangely it took another creation of the master to push me in the right direction - Diorella. I tried the vintage perfume recently, thanks to my friend Tara, who also wrote the wonderful review of Diorella on this blog, and while Diorella was not exactly what I was looking for, it inspired me to take another shot at Le Parfum de Thérèse, both creations of the same genius, both fruity chypres.
Almost every Perfumista knows the story of how the great Edmond Roudnitska created the fragrance in the 1950s for his wife Thèrèse, who was the only wearer until, posthumously, Le Parfum de Thérèse became part, an integral part, of the line founded by Frederic Malle – Editions de Parfums.
“Bright, complex, incredibly modern, Le Parfum de Thérèse was created in the mid 50s, by Edmond Roudnitska, one of the greatest perfumers of the twentieth century. The fragrance was never commercially produced and remained a well-kept secret because Thérèse, Roudnitska’s wife –– for whom it was created –– was the only person allowed to wear it. Considered a masterpiece because its water fruit accord is 40 years ahead of its time, this complex fragrance is also reminiscent of glorious perfumes of the past. Tangerine and melon giving way to a carnal rose and plum heart; the base of cedar, vetiver and leather lends class. A vintage fragrance that epitomizes its creator’s style.”
-from the Frederic Malle website
When I finally “got” Le Parfum de Thérèse, it threw over my entire fragrance testing/blogging schedule, because I could not stop wearing it, for four days and nights in a row it was Thérèse and nothing else. It is addictive in its beauty, I crave the way it makes me feel about myself.
Le Parfum de Thérèse is one of those complete perfumes to my nose. Nothing standing out, not single note to discern, no huge progression, but a smooth, round experience that seems to defy explanation from start to finish. But that does not keep me from trying to make sense of it anyway.
Le Parfum de Thérèse opens with mandarine or tangerine as the only discernible fruit note, the rest is incredibly well blended, so the dreaded melon note is only a part of a wonderfully ripe fruitiness that leads into the opulent floral heart, dominated by a rich jasmine, aided by a little bit of rose. The plum note is what the perfume smells of the most to me, a succulent, ripe, juicy plum, mouthwatering and inviting. A bit of spiciness adds dimension and keeps the sweetness in check. The base of vetiver-accented leather is very soft and mellow, undemanding and almost demure, but never losing sight of a languid sensuality.
Le Parfum de Thérèse is voluptous, but not voluminous, expansive, but not heavy, lush and sensual, but not all out sexy.
Le Parfum de Thérèse sends out a laid-back come-hither vibe. I see a beautiful woman lying on a divan, smiling mysteriously. The warm afternoon light comes in through the open window and a soft breeze carries the scent of the orchard outside. Dust moths are dancing in the sunlight and everything is still and calm.
Le Parfum de Thérèse exudes a quiet joyfulness, it is a warm, incredibly complex scent that feels like an embrace. Le Parfum de Thérèse makes me feel very sophisticated, and mature, very much like a woman, not a girl any more.
Sillage is above average and can be strong in the heat or if applied a bit too lavishly, strangely enough for such a perfume though, and that is my one point of contention, it does not last for a very long time. After about three hours at most, it is practically gone, which is a bit of a disappointment, given that this is no cheap perfume.
Le Parfume de Thérèse is an incredible example of what a fruity perfume can be and puts today’s ideas of what a good fruity fragrance is, to shame. It should be compulsive smelling for everyone remotely interested in perfume.
I am grateful that Frederic Malle had the inspired idea to approach Madame Roudnitska and ask for the release of her perfume to the public.
And until somebody (Monsieur Ellena? Monsieur Duchaufour? Monsieur Guillaume? Anyone?) feels inspired to create Le Parfum de Birgit, I will proudly and happily wear the one meant for Thérèse.