Entering a Frédéric Malle boutique has nothing to do with the classic shopping experience, because it’ll make you surpass all the boundaries of traditional retail by actually recreating the corners of the home of the founder of this exceptional brand of artistic perfumery. In Via Verri 2, between Via Monte Napoleone and the Duomo, since last September you can experience what it means to be captured by a story to the point of wanting to be part of it at all costs, even marginally, even trapping and interpreting a single fragment through the fragrance you are wearing. The Milanese boutique is the second one in Italy, after the one opened in Via del Babuino 30, in Rome.
Inside the shop, designed as a Milanese pied-à-terre by Mr. Malle himself, it’s impossible not to notice immediately his taste for art, represented in every detail by the furnishings and the works that enrich the spaces without ever imposing their presence and the wonderful stucco arch on the high ceiling, perfectly in line with the neoclassical style of the building, built during the 40s. A sofa, inspired by those of Villa Malapartea in Capri, welcomes the guests, making immediately clear that it’s best to pass here when you’re not in a hurry or by chance.
Take a seat and look around. The minimalism of the rooms will reveal its complexity to the careful look of the regular visitors: what at first might seem like an elevator, is actually a “Smelling Column“, present in all the boutiques scattered around the globe as well as a Frédéric Malle’s exclusive patent. Do you want to know what is the perception of your sillage on other people? Just select your favorite fragrance, wait a minute and go into the Smelling Column to know what you would think of that scent if you felt it on someone else.
And then the refrigerated showcases for perfumes, the thin aluminum shelves on which they are elegantly aligned with their minimal packaging, the black and white portraits of the twelve Noses, among the best in the world, that collaborate with Frédéric Malle to create unique fragrances, made regardless of any commercial reasoning, with the times and methods dictated by the respect of the raw materials selected by these artists, all linked by incredible and intimate stories to their “publisher”, Mr. Malle himself. Perfumes with unique souls, profoundly different, united only by the fact of making excellence the creative starting point.
The publishing world is also referred to by the packaging, which recalls the aesthetics of a book: the name of the perfume, with relative author and publisher are cited on the cover, while the back shows the biography of its creator. Going upstairs you’ll get even more the feeling of being in a living room, surrounded by wonderful books, and it’s just like that. The pages of a book won’t be the ones to speak, the individual stories told by the 28 fragrances that make up the collection, with explanatory and dreamy names at the same time, will be.
“Music for a While”, for instance, composed as a symphony by Carlos Benaïm, reinterpreting hints of pineapple and lavender and adapting them to a young woman. A woman who one evening walks on the Rive Gauche and decides to enter a room: she is sure of herself, beautiful and elegant. She knows she’s coveted, she knows the effect she has on others and that’s she’s leaving an inebriating trail as she walks by. Or “Carnal Flower”, by Dominique Ropion, based on tuberose, magnetic and persistent, sensual after an initial impression of innocence, so full of charm that you will want to continue to feel it to catch all its nuances. And again “Iris Poudre”, by Pierre Bourdon, with a femininity reminiscent of the Paris of the 20s, a perfume that needs seven years to be created, and “French Lovers”, again by Bourdon, born from a fortuitous meeting with a friend who recognizes, in a bottle still without name, the scent of a French lover, jokes about it, and that’s how the masterpiece was born. Then “Lipstick rose”, by Ralf Schwieger, who will enchant you with its magical delicacy, like that of a mother’s kiss that greets you as a child before going to the theater, an occasion that inspired of the perfume itself.
But to fully understand the essence and the extremely deep creativity of this brand, there’s no need to list them all. At the next visit to the city center, it will be enough to save the time you need to let yourself be enveloped by the charm that the art of these talents creates “perfumes so innovative that they stand the test of time”.