‘Portrait of a Lady’ is the latest fragrance by Frédéric Malle, named after Henry James’s famous novel of 1881, which centers on a woman torn between sexual desire and responsibility.
The fragrance was created by perfumer Dominique Ropion, the nose behind Malle’s previous fragrances such as Vetiver Extraordinaire, Geranium Pour Monsieur and Un Fleur de Cassis.
Malle sees Ropion as somewhat of a fragrance maverick, as he “did not surrender to the modern conventions by which a fragrance must include Hedione, Iso E Super, Lilial etc..”
Hence each raw material Ropion selected for the perfume (including the extremely rare Turkish Rose Essence) plays a crucial role in its scent composition.
When first spritzed onto the skin, the top notes provide a rich hit of Incense, which over time mellows to allow the other notes of the Rose Essence, White Musk, Cinnamon and Patchouli to come to the fore. Described by Malle as a “a new oriental rose,” the combination of musk and floral notes create a rich and absorbing bouquet, making this latest olfactory offering destined to become a modern classic.
Perfume notes: benzoin, musk, sandalwood, patchouli, incense, white musk cocktail, Turkish rose essence, rose absolute, cinnamon, clove, red berries accord, blackcurrant.
Portrait of a Lady takes the genre of the deep, dark oriental rose and gives it further asperities, further dirtiness despite using some white musk to make it more feminine; Exploring the limits of both pungency and sweetness and offering one of the darkest rose compositions available on the market.
The patchouli which is said to comprise 1/3 of the formula is perceptible in a smoky guise. It is a subtle, refined patchouli.
‘Portrait of a Lady’ is priced at £115 for 50ml, £175 for 100ml and is available at Liberty.