Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle

dries van noten par frederic malleNotes: sandalwood, gaiac wood, tonka bean, vanilla, saffron, jasmine, musk, bergamot, lemon, nutmeg, cloves, patchouli, woody notes, and Peru balsam.

I was excited when I first heard that Dries Van Noten was getting a fragrance, but I assumed it would be along the typical mass market lines of something like Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb. But Monsieur Van Noten himself has apparently long been a fan of Frederic Malle’s Editions, and this collaboration between the two men (plus the nose of the fragrance, Bruno Jovanovic) is a somewhat unique product. It is part of Frederic Malle’s line, while also reflective of Dries Van Noten and his designs.

Dries Van Noten is a Belgian designer who is notable for his use of rich prints and textures. There is also his cerebral, yet somewhat relaxed approach to fashion. He doesn’t show haute couture, instead preferring to stick with ready-to-wear collections for men and women. I look forward to his collections because he always shows interesting and well thought-out work, even if I wouldn’t personally want to wear each and every garment.

Sandalwood is the focal point of Dries Van Noten the fragrance, automatically putting this composition in the warm and woody category. In other reviews, people have found this fragrance overly sweet and might classify it as a gourmand. For me, this is not the case. I’m the self-professed queen of gourmand scents, but Dries Van Noten reads quite dry on me. Despite the vanilla and tonka bean, this is not a creamy, dessert-like sandalwood scent for me. Obviously your mileage may vary!

Even though I don’t find this fragrance to be particularly sweet, I do still find that it gives a lot of warmth. It’s a rich fragrance in that the sandalwood and other woody notes (helped by patchouli) have a lot of depth and staying-power. But the dryness gives a somber effect, which I actually find appropriate since this composition is based around a Belgian winter. Don’t worry, the somber mood doesn’t mean that this is a dreary perfume, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a bright or lively affair.

The citrus notes ensure that there is a much-needed touch of lightness in this composition. The bergamot and lemon together give the impression of coming in out of the cold for a cup of earl grey tea with lemon. It’s nicely warming without being too heavy. Indeed, for a scent with a lot of depth to it, Dries Van Noten wears in a surprisingly light manner. This might be a good time to talk about the projection, which is low. This is a quiet scent that stays close to the skin. I find that makes it very wearable and approachable, but if you’re looking for a scent with more projection, cross this one off the list.

There is some development in this composition, as the dry down ushers in a musky effect, layered with hints of jasmine. But the development is subtle, and the dry sandalwood remains noticeable all throughout wear time. In the end, Dries Van Noten is a lovely, but slightly odd fragrance. It’s a little bit sobering, and content to stay mostly quiet on the skin. But in this quietness, it is perhaps a nice reflection of Monsieur Van Noten’s own cerebral approach to design. And of course there is an elegance in the perfume’s subtlety, and it’s probably one of the most wearable fragrances for cold weather. I don’t yet own a full bottle of any of the Frederic Malle line and, because of the wearability factor, I could see this being the one for me.

Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle is available from Barney’s New York. Samples are available from The Perfumed Court, which is where I obtained mine.

Image and info on the notes are from Fragrantica.

4 thoughts on “Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle

  1. I didn’t give Dries Van Noten a proper chance: I smelled it on paper but wasn’t enticed enough to try it on skin at the store or seek a sample later. I didn’t think it was bad, I thought it was nice. It reminded me of SL’s Jeux de Peau. Since I haven’t even smelled them in parallel – let alone tried – I have no idea how close or how far they actually are. It was just an impression.
    My main complained was that Malle had stepped out on his own idea of putting a perfumer’s name on the bottle. But now in light of the recent events (selling out to Estee Lauder), I can’t hold that small thing against him. So I might give it a try the next time I come across it in a store (though with my 2-3 trips/year to Barneys there might be too many other tempting perfumes to try – so we’ll see).

    1. I can definitely see the similarities between Dries and Jeux de Peaux! I think the Dries is a little more dry to me, and the Lutens it initially reminded me of is Five o’clock au Gingembre. In any case, the Dries definitely has that Serge Lutens warm wintery scent vibe.

      I felt a little bad putting Bruno Jovanovic’s name in parenthesis in my write-up, as though he’s an after-thought, especially since he isn’t even on the bottle’s label. I watched a video on the Frederic Malle official site with Malle and Van Noten discussing the perfume. It would’ve been cool to see the perfumer chime in too and have all three of them talk, but I guess I see why it’s more marketable to have just Frederic Malle/Dries Van Noten.

      There’s so much to sample and take in on the Barney’s beauty level, I totally understand having other priorities. But the Dries is pretty appealing I think, and especially cozy around this time of year!

  2. this one gets a lot of love too and have been curious about it as well…I have been a bit apprehensive about exploring the Malle line because it is a bit out of my budget and my fear is falling in love and not being able to own a full bottle….

    1. I know Frederic Malle is definitely on the pricey side. I still don’t own a single Malle full bottle. All of the scents from this line have so interesting though, it’s worth seeking out a sample just to experience it.

      I know Monsieur Malle has another designer collab coming out soon with Alber Elbaz. I believe that one is supposed to contain patchouli so it could be of interest to you.

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