Frédéric Malle x Alber Elbaz

A new collaboration between French fragrance house Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle and Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz has resulted in 'Superstitious'. Black, gold and sexy as hell...

BY AMY BRADFORD

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Alber Elbaz and Frédéric Malle

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Alber Elbaz and Frédéric Malle

When they hear the words ‘grand aldehydic floral’, perfume connoisseurs usually think of one scent: 'Chanel No5'. 'Superstitious' is nothing like 'Chanel No5', but it does belong to the same fragrance family. Intriguingly, it also shares something else in common with Ernest Beaux’s 1921 masterpiece: it was composed in the old-fashioned way, by a master perfumer working alone, and presented almost complete to the fashion designer for whom it was intended to await his final flourish.

The fashion designer in question is Alber Elbaz, known for helming iconic French brands Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin, and the perfumer is the great Dominique Ropion. Fragrance impresario Frédéric Malle has long admired the former, and long worked with the latter. Seeking a way to collaborate with Elbaz on a new scent, Malle decided to show him Ropion’s creation – and it was love at first sniff. We can see why. Its light-as-air opening – those aldehydes, which lend a perfume champagne-like effervescence – is quickly succeeded by an indolic whoosh of Egyptian jasmine and Turkish rose, and fleeting impressions of peach-skin, apricot, sandalwood and musk. It finally dries down to a Turkish delight-tinged softness.

As for the name, Malle’s explanation speaks for itself: ‘In a world where life seems programmed, organised and logical, Alber sees the irrational – neglected everywhere we are and in everything we do – as essential. Beyond words, images and reason, we must let ourselves be guided by a sixth sense – by our superstitions – free from judgment and unsuppressed. We must let ourselves go. We must trust our instincts. If [Alber and I] were to create a fragrance together, we said, it would possess this mysterious element.’ 

Ropion finished his composition with Elbaz in mind and it’s a huge hit, sexy as hell and utterly addictive. The bottle’s pretty fab, too, and like the scent it’s a fusion of creative visions: Malle’s idea of a black bottle adorned with a golden eye, the symbol of superstition; the eye itself sketched out by Elbaz in a style that recalls the work of American artist Alexander Calder. 'I transformed Alber's eye from red pen on white paper to antique gold on deep black lacquer,' recalls Malle. Timeless elegance meets modern mystique...
fredericmalle.com

'Superstitious' from £158 for 50ml. Available from fredericmalle.com and libertylondon.com
Portrait of Alber Elbaz and Frédéric Malle by Brigitte Lacombe