Frederic Malle’s Le Parfum de Therese by Edmond Roudnitska (2000)

Frederic Malle's Le Parfum de Therese © Victor Wong
Frederic Malle’s Le Parfum de Therese © Victor Wong

My coworker’s father was a chef at a Chinese restaurant.

“You must be the luckiest girl in town! Your home-cooked meals probably taste like restaurant’s.”

“I don’t remember what my father’s cooking tastes like.”

“How come?”

“He works for a high-stress restaurant. When he is at home, he rarely touches the stove. My mom does all the cooking.”

“He must have cooked for your mom, at least?”

“Yes, he likes to cook my mom’s favourite dish, scrambled eggs.”

“Doesn’t sound too challenging, does it?”

“It’s no ordinary scrambled eggs.”

And this was one of the reasons why I had always wanted to get a bottle of Le Parfum de Therese, by Edmond Roudnitska. He created this perfume just for his wife in the mid 50’s. Frederic Malle had always wanted to hire Mr. Roudniska to create a perfume for his own line, but it was impossible for he had already passed away in 1996. After he learned about Mrs.Therese Roudnitska’s private blend, he sincerely asked her if he could use the formula under her husband’s name, and she obliged.

I’ve always wondered, under which scenario did Mr. Roudniska create this perfume:

1) He knew what his wife liked, and made it just for her;

2) He wanted to create something not to please his clients, but for himself only, and gifted it to his wife; for all artwork needed an audience.

As a video game artist, 99% of my “artwork” are commercial, and I know creating art for others and creating art for myself are two completely different things. There’s a certain romance and mystery imbued in Le Parfum de Therese.

And the scent itself is really “strange”, by today’s standard and yesterday’s standard. The accords in this fragrance are as weird as the ingredients found in the TV cooking show “Chopped”, where contestants have no idea what the secret ingredients are, and at the end you have to make a meal out of them. In this case, you open the basket and you find: a cantaloupe, some plums, a pair of leather gloves, and a set of dumb bells. Le Parfum de Therese is a metallic melon perfume with rose and patchouli as back drop.

When I first smelled it two years ago, I could not stand it; but I was very attracted to it. After I’ve got Le Labo’s Neroli 36 and conquered the metallic accord, I was ready for Le Parfum de Therese. A year ago I gave my only sample to a friend for I knew I would get a bottle eventually. I even remembered what it smelled like. As always, the price of a Frederic Malle bottle is very prohibitive, but recently I’ve found a reason (sort of) to buy it, and there are no regrets.