By Elizabeth Siegel. Photos: Hannah Choi/Allure.
I can’t smell the difference between jasmine and violet to save my life. I once took a whiff of mint and bought it thinking it was basil (that pasta was bad, but not my worst). But weirdly, I’m a lot like a famous perfumer. Frédéric Malle — the man behind Edition de Parfums Frédéric Malle — and I are both incredibly superstitious. And I hear we’re in really good company.
One of the world’s most legendary designers is a knock-on-wood kind of guy. “Alber [Elbaz] always cuts cloth in one go and never hands scissors to someone,” says Malle. Say what you want about superstition — it just made the world a little better. When Elbaz and Malle bonded over their shared quirk, they decided to create a perfume together. They had the name before they had the scent. They’d call it — what else — Superstitious.
It’s a soft, powdery scent that was born over turbot and frites at Le Voltaire, a cozy Parisian bistro. Technically, Malle and Elbaz were there for lunch. But really, it was a kind of audition. “I was curious to see if we'd be compatible,” says Malle, who'd admired Elbaz's work for Lanvin. “Making a fragrance with someone is such an intimate endeavor, you have to get along. I thought if I liked him, he would probably like me.”
They talked about their failures, their successes, and their philosophies. “Alber said, ‘people should be more superstitious,’” remembers Malle. “We looked at each other, and said, ‘We should call [our perfume] Superstitious!’” With that, they got to work brainstorming their scent.
There were more lunches. More frites. More bottles of wine. “We were laughing at one restaurant on the Rue de Lille where the owner was extremely pretentious,” says Malle. Inspired, Elbaz sketched an evil eye, and they had their flacon.
Somewhere along the way, Malle decided to break with the current perfume convention. “I went back to a classic era. Designers like Mr. Dior and Mademoiselle Chanel never smelled iterations of perfumes — they were offered finished fragrances,” says Malle. “I don’t think Mademoiselle smelled any iterations of No. 5.”
Like No. 5, Superstitious is a floral aldehyde. But it’s got a twist. This new perfume has just enough musk and jasmine to be as warm and cozy as lunch with a confidant.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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