Blog post by Gwen

Le Parfum de Thérèse – carnal and elegant and iconic

If I were asked which fragrance has the most romantic backstory, it would be Le Parfum de Thérèse from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. People are fascinated by the love story behind its creation.

Love inspires musicians to write love songs, painters to paint portraits and perfumers to make fragrances for the woman they love. Well, romantic ones like Edmond Roudnitska do.

Born in 1905 in Nice, Roudnitska began to study perfumery when he was 21, working on creating new bases. During World War II, he moved to De Laire, where in 1942, he met Thérèse Delveaux, a bright, young chemical engineer. They fell in love, and Thérèse became Roudnitska's wife, muse, and collaborator.

Like many creative geniuses, Roudnitska had an idea noodling around at the back of his mind: a fragrance with plum as a base. He gave it a working title, 'La Prune' or 'plum' in English, and worked on it for years, refining and modifying it until the mid-fifties when he was satisfied with it. La Prune was original and bold, and Thérèse was taken by it. She began to wear it, and people noticed it. La Prune became so associated with Thérèse that Roudnitska decided it would be her perfume alone. Over time, the fragrance became the stuff of legend – Was there a formula for it? Did anyone else ever wear it? Did it ever exist?

In his book, ‘On Perfume Making,’ Frédéric Malle says he knew it existed, and when he started Editions de Parfums, he asked Ms. Roudnitska if he could produce the fragrance as a tribute to her husband. She agreed, and Malle named Le Parfum de Thérèse as an homage to her.

Great story and a great perfume.

Le Parfum de Thérèse opens with a soft note of sweet tangerine, flanked by melon and cucumber notes. Together they create a fruity aquatic accord that gives the opening a watery-airy freshness that’s unique and alluring. It ushers in a floral-fruity heart of jasmine, rose and plum. I get the jasmine first, erotic, fleshy and heady as it wafts up to my nose. The jasmine is joined by a rich, voluptuous rose in a proportion I've never smelled before. It’s stunning. The jasmine then deepens, drawing out a note of lush, sensuous plum. The base is woody from cedar and vetiver, which also contributes a gentle greenness to the scent. A soft leather note smooths it out, so the drydown is carnal yet elegant. On me, Le Parfum de Thérèse is like a languorous cat, sitting on my wrist and purring.

Malle writes, "When smelling it today, one believes that Le Parfum de Thérèse is a vintage perfume encapsulating the delicate and ladylike Parisian chic of the 1950s, a sharp contrast to the futuristic impression it generated back then." After all this time, Le Parfum de Thérèse lives on like any great love story.

Check out Le Parfum de Thérèse in our Shop.