How Having Synesthesia Helps Perfumer Frédéric Malle Create Unique Scents

There are difficult, technical phrases that perfumers use to alternate concepts (strive saying “tetramethyl acetyloctahydronaphthalenes” one time, slowly) and simply recognizable (simply pronounceable) ones for notes like rose or vanilla. However there isn’t any actual common language for advanced compositions — one individual’s “contemporary” is one other’s “candy.” As a substitute, we regularly conjure imagery of laundry snapping within the breeze, waves lapping on the shore, or lemons ripening within the solar. 

However these visible clichés aren’t the one manner: “One of the efficient methods to explain scent is with colour,” says Frédéric Malle, founding father of the fragrance home Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. For Malle, associating perfume with colour is second nature. Born with a sensory-processing trait known as synesthesia, he perceives a spread of vivid, painterly strokes when he smells fragrance—or something in any respect. It is an computerized response that performs a key position in his inventive course of. “Once I’m growing a scent with a perfumer, I would counsel making it ‘darker’ or ‘extra purple’ as an alternative of including a particular chemical,” he says. “This provides some path whereas leaving room for interpretation. The consequence usually surprises me.” 

Whereas synesthesia is not precisely widespread (it happens in as much as 5 % of the inhabitants), a visible method to scent would possibly assist to construct a typical perfume vocabulary. “It makes fragrance tangible and extra matter of reality,” says Malle, including, “I consider everybody has the capability to equate colour with scent.” We requested Malle to look past the hyperbole and present us the true colours of 4 new fragrances.

Photographed by Brigitte Lacombe

Photographed Brigitte Lacombe

Estée Lauder Lovely Magnolia Eau de Parfum

Illustration by Samantha Hahn

Illustration by Samantha Hahn

“In fragrance, the violet flower has many alternative, contrasting points — a candy however woody base and a clear, stringent prime, which largely comes from its leaves. This fragrance performs up these distinct results. It’s kind of violet in colour — vivid, sheer, and dry within the again, nearly crisp.”

Frederic Malle Artificial Jungle

Illustration by Samantha Hahn

Illustration by Samantha Hahn | How Having Synesthesia Helps Perfumer Frédéric Malle Create Distinctive Scents


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