Borrowed Treasure – Review: Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Le Parfum De Thérèse

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

Le Parfum de Thèrèse includes notes of  mandarin, melon, jasmine, pepper, violet, rose, plum, nutmeg, cedar, vetiver, and leather.

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.

Image source:,

About Olfactoria

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This entry was posted in Chypre, Fragrance Reviews, Frederic Malle, Fruity and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Borrowed Treasure – Review: Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Le Parfum De Thérèse

  1. Undina says:

    When I read this perfume’s story for the first time I also was touched by it. I liked notes. I wanted to love the perfume.
    It doesn’t work for me. I will be testing it more but so far no luck. It’s nice, it’s very well made but it’s not beautiful on me.
    From where did you get the list of the notes? On FM’s site pepper isn’t mentioned. But on my skin it starts very peppery and I thought that either I was imagining that or my skin reacts strangely with some other components.

  2. Georgy says:

    How about a name change in the meantime PG is certainly working on l’eau de birgit right now, ….

  3. Tara says:

    B, it makes me so happy that Diorella led you to love Le Parfum de Therese! I can’t believe you wore it for 4 days straight. You are really getting into your jasmines lately and that makes me happy too because its a favourite note of mine. I just adore the plum note in PdT and you describe it perfectly. I wore PdT to a wedding a while back and it was just perfect; grown-up, beautiful but not overpowering. Like you though I wish it lasted longer. It’s a shame there’s not more of the leather that’s listed in the notes but is hard to detect. It’s a stunner though.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Me too! Thank you for the inspiration! 🙂
      The lasting power is really not great, which I find interesting, since this kind of perfume usually lasts quite a bit better on me. Well, layering with the body lotion would probably help with that, but that is not a very economical solution…

  4. IsabelleMi says:

    You describe PdT so wonderfully that I needed to spray a little and I sense it like never before. It sure is sophisticated and elegant. It’s funny but I imagine PdT-woman to be an elegant and warmhearted lady who loves to take outdoor exercise, maybe ride a horse 😉

  5. Suzanne says:

    I’m thrilled to hear that you are loving Le Parfum de Therese! It took repeated testings of it over a rather broad expanse of time for me to finally “get it” — but once I did, I was so thoroughly hooked.

    It’s funny that Tara said she wore this to a wedding; we must be on the same wavelength. I think this would be gorgeous on a bride and had first suggested it to “Another Perfume Blog” when she was initially asking for suggestions for her wedding.

    Bet you smell gorgeous in it, Birgit!

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  7. Vanessa says:

    I am glad to have been present at one of your “confirmatory testing” sessions in Pure Day Spa!

    : – )

  8. jedennard says:

    You make this sound wonderful! I love a perfume with a history. Too bad inspiration seems to be less a reason for creating a perfume than it once was.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are so right, all to often money seems to be the main inspiration. But then there are people like Andy Tauer or Mona di Orio, who work with passion and not only excel at what they are doing, but are able to communicate their love for perfume in the fragrance. There is such a difference…

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  12. May be the best piece around

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  20. cookie queen says:

    Purchase imminent. 😉 xxx

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