Unassuming Beauty – Review: Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Eau de Magnolia

By Tara

The brand new Eau de Magnolia has a breezy loveliness about it. At first I wondered if it was too understated to make an impact next to its more striking companions in the Editions de Parfums line-up, but now I think not. It’s such a pure pleasure to wear that I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a big hit over the summer.

eau-de-magnolia-frederic-malle-carlos-benaim

The perfumer behind this latest release, Carlos Benaïm, created the magnolia based Jurassic Flower candle and room scent for the same brand. A discussion between he and Malle about the similarity of magnolia’s odour structure to that of eau de cologne (as revealed by headspace technology) was the starting point for Eau de Magnolia.

As you might expect, there are cologne-style hesperidic notes above the magnolia but then it’s anchored from below with weightier materials. You can see this from the following notes list:

The top note is Calabrian bergamot; middle notes are magnolia, vetiver and patchouli; base notes are cedar, moss and amber.

In the opening you have the fizzing, dancing bergamot but I also get lots of lemon in the form of zest over ice. It’s refreshing and tart but not eye-popping sour. This stage lasts on me for the best part of an hour and feels like the perfect way to start the day in late spring/early summer.

When the effervescence fades it leaves a light sherbet coating on the magnolia petals revealed underneath. it’s a very fitting progression considering the flower is said to have a lemony facet. That light citrus uplift remains well into its development.

The magnolia itself has a drenched quality, as if it’s been doused with sea water: A magnolia flower filtered through an aquatic lens. It’s not the marine melon of calone, it’s just very fresh and dewy as opposed to waxy and creamy (the way the magnolia is in Zelda for example).

So don’t expect to encounter a photorealistic magnolia when you lift your wrist to your nose. Eau de Magnolia is an artist’s impression of the flower rather than a nature study.

While it’s very translucent and hazy, its radiance gives it plenty of presence. One thing it definitely is not however, is a Big White Floral. It’s too silken and subtle for that, despite its luminosity.

I find the heart of the perfume so relaxing it makes me sigh deeply, become heavy lidded and long to while away a languid afternoon on a hammock in the shade. It’s also very pretty in a completely unconscious way, like a naturally alluring woman who is oblivious to the effect she has on the men left in her wake.

As time wears on, the gauzy flower becomes surrounded by a good deal of soft green moss and is grounded by very clean vetiver and patchouli. Nothing is allowed to overwhelm this delicate Southern Belle.

olivia de havilland gone with the wind

A delicate Southern Belle – Melanie Hamilton would surely like Eau de Magnolia

Despite the “eau” in its name and the cologne style start, it is actually a mossy chypre in the drydown. Not the older, austere kind but the loose limbed, fruity variety. That’s the beauty of Eau de Magnolia, you get the lightness and sparkle of a cologne as well as the depth and lasting power of a sophisticated chypre.

I think even those who were hoping for a life-like magnolia may well be won over by its sheer charm.

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46 Responses to Unassuming Beauty – Review: Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Eau de Magnolia

  1. WOW Tara,
    Great review. Your nose is so precise, great review.
    Is Eau de Magnolia anything like Magnolia Grandiflora Michel? Just from reading it seems like there might be some crossover.
    Portia xx

  2. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Indeed, a very pretty parfum – elegant in a transparent, easy way. The same as your review, Tara.

  3. janeykate says:

    Lovely review, I’m intrigued by Frederick Malle perfumes, they are beautifully complex, if that makes sense!
    Jane x

    • Tara says:

      Malle has built up a truly exquisite collection of perfumes. I think you’re completely right about them being beautifully complex. That makes perfect sense.

  4. Sandra says:

    Lovely Tara. The perfume is indeed beautiful. Just in time for summer.

  5. Sabine says:

    A great review, Tara. Good job that I’m on my way to town today. I will try it, although I’m not sure it’s for me. Some Malles are just there to be admired, not necessarily worn.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Sabine

      Hope you like it when you try it today, even if you don’t think it’s for you. I’ll be interested to hear what you make of it.

      • Sabine says:

        Hi Tara, I have now tested and re read your review. And you got it so right…especially the doused with water asepct. It is a very beautiful perfume, no doubt. And as expected it’s not for me. Like a dress you very much admire on someone else, but never wear yourself.

        • Tara says:

          That’s a shame Sabine, but I like your dress comparison and know exactly what you mean. You can still admire a perfume even if it’s not your style. Thanks for reporting back.

          I’m very happy you feel my review chimed with your own experience.

  6. cookie queen says:

    Hey Tara. It is really is very beautiful. Luckily I had the chance to have three good wearings. I do have to say how much it reminds me of Thérèse. First I thought I was having a strange reaction, buch each wearing is the same. It´s the effervescent bitterness that does it. Maybe. In any case it is on my extremely short list of perfumes to purchase when I am in town, I cannot wait to be able spray with gay abandon! Big smile. xxx

    • Tara says:

      Val, to get on your short To Buy List it must be good!

      I think it’s the kind of perfume that should be sprayed with gay abandon.

      It’s sometimes surprising how perfumes can remind us of others despite not being similar on the face of it. It can be feel or character rather than the scent itself.

  7. Alice says:

    Lovely review, I’m so glad you liked it. It’s been a long time since a new perfume has stunned me on first try, but I really took to this one. It seemed in a way very obvious, as in not groundbreaking, and quite simple…but you can tell straight away that a huge amount of thought went into creating what seems effortless. I’ve vowed no new purchases for a year, but nearly bought it on the spot. Maybe for my birthday….

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, Alice. I agree that a lot of work probably went into making it seem so simple. It’s very likeable and easy to wear.

      I hope you get your bottle for your birthday.

  8. Suzanne says:

    Tara, I’ll second what Lady Jane Grey said, as your review is just so naturally graceful and that’s how this perfume comes across. I’ll really look forward to trying it – and all the more after hearing Cookie Queen’s comment that it is similar in spirit to Le Parfum de Therese, as that’s a favorite of mine.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. I hope you like though it’s more laid-back and less striking than Le PdT. Though they both have a similar radiance about them and could be classed as fruity chypres. I wonder if it will be a bit too understated for your tastes but I’m sure you’ll enjoy testing it. It’s a very hard perfume to dislike.

  9. Olfactoria says:

    Thank you for this succinct and beautiful review!
    As you know, I blindly bought this perfume on the strength of your word and I am so happy I did. I have been using it consistently since I got it and I think it is a perfect addition to the Malle collection (as well as to my own ;) ).

    • Tara says:

      Ha ha! Thanks very much, B. I was sweating a bit until you told me you liked it!

      It is very suited to your elegant yst relaxed style though and I can well imagine it being gorgeous on you. Lovely to know it ‘s already gotten lots of wear in the heat.

  10. anitathepianist says:

    This review sounds so delicious. I live surrounded by large magnolia trees and know their fragrance well. That flower itself is complex; at first sniff it is almost a citrus note, then the white
    flower blooms slowly, almost as if it had been planned by a good perfumer. Right now I’m enjoying Carnal Flower, but this one goes on the Wish List.

    • Tara says:

      As you know the natural fragrance of magnolias so well I hope you won’t be disappointed by it not being a literal interpretation. It is so pretty though and definitely captures the citrus facet you mention.

  11. Asali says:

    ‘Pretty in an unconscious way’, that sounds like a lovely description for a feminine fragrance. We already talked about this one, and I will certainly have to find a way to test it now :-) thank you for the beautiful review- I’m quite sure I can literally sniff it through the screen of my computer.

    • Tara says:

      That’s a lovely compliment, thanks Asali.

      It is feminine but it’s also so mossy green and citrusy it would be great on a guy too.

      I love how it’s not trying too hard.

      I can’t wait to hear what you make of it.

  12. Tatiana says:

    A lovely review. I cannot wait to try this one as I usually dislike “big white florals” and love chypres.

    • Tara says:

      In that case it really could work for you, Tatiana. I do hope so. The magnolia is lovely in a chypre setting.

  13. This is a beautiful review from start to finish. I have smelled this on one of my friends and was instantly delighted by its presence. I have yet to spritz myself, but my time is coming soon :)

    • Tara says:

      Thank you!

      It is a delightful perfume indeed. I hope you get to try it on yourself soon. I’d like to give it a huge spray myself.

  14. Vanessa says:

    Wow, what a mouthwatering review! Or nose tingling, maybe? I love the sound of every facet of this, and am always up for trying a perfume with magnolia, of which my main exponents to date are Zelda (the more creamy kind) and Kenzo’s take in Eau de Fleur(s) de Magnolia. That is citrusy and bright but lacks the mossy base and I wouldn’t say it smells remotely niche, so I have high hopes of the Malle. Is the gauzy wet impression anything like the way tuberose is done in Carnal Flower or Diptyque’s Do Son? Can’t wait to try it and thanks for upping the lemming ante another notch. ;)

    • Tara says:

      I so want you to try this V! I just hope you’re not thrown if it doesn’t match the Southern magnolias you’re familiar with. Similar to Sabine, I admire Carnal Flower but it doesn’t feel like me so I don’t know it well enough to recall, but from your description it sounds like the treatment is similar.

  15. Terrific review, Tara! I never thought that Eau de Magnolia would be something that I would really like, but I loved it when I tried it. Am looking forward to draining my decant. A FB might be in the future after that!

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, Daisy. Lovely to see you!

      I think Eau de Magnolia is going to enchant people with a wide range of tastes and I’m pleased it so pleasantly surprised you.

      I have a feeling that despite the cost, I may break and buy a bottle by the end of the month.

  16. Natalie says:

    This is a lovely review. Although you make it sound very appealing, you also confirm what I expected from the description, and I’m not wildly impatient to try this. I think I’d prefer something more rich, but it sounds very pretty for the genre that it is.

    • Tara says:

      Yes, you’re spot on. It’s not at all rich, so if that’s what you’d prefer you need not rush to sample this one.

      You’re right again though – it is extremely pretty for the style it is. Very fresh, citrusy and green/mossy but very beautiful and elegant too.

  17. carole macleod says:

    This was a beautiful review-thank you for it! i am curious to try it, and I have the MG-Michel. I love it-I don’t get the rotting fruit that others mention. When I wear it (and i wear it a LOT) I feel like I am in the garden which inspired the scent. I can smell all the scents on the air around the magnolia. I do smell jasmine-even i can tell that this was composed by someone who is descended from the creator of PdeT. It’s been such a cold dark spring here-this is the most beautiful scent in the cold. Can only imagine what it would be like in the heat.

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