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Outrageous – A thinking person’s un-perfume – March 23, 2017


Outrageous (2017) by Editions de Parfums Fréderic Malle

I stopped by the Frédéric Malle counter in Holt Renfrew last week. I can never resist getting a spritz of one of my favourites from this excellent niche line. The brand, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, was sold to Estée Lauder a while ago but Frédéric Malle is apparently still in charge, and thank god for that!

Malle’s innovative idea to build a collection of fragrances like a publishing company, with respected noses as authors, and notes and styles as story lines, is a global success. Malle gives these noses, the men and women who are the true artists in the perfume world, the opportunity and freedom to create their olfactory visions, and he was really the first to bring perfumers out of the closet so to speak, into the public spotlight and give them the credit they deserve. So many of the fragrances Frédéric Malle curated are now considered modern classics, and we own many of them. Go to our Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle listings on Pages 5 and 6 in our Decant Store, and click on the names of the fragrances to learn about them.

So back to the Frédéric Malle perfume counter last week. ”What’s new?” I asked. I was immediately spritzed with the new 2017 version of Outrageous, and the Sales Rep. whom I know quite well after so many visits, told me the whole Outrageous story while I savoured the little rush I always get when I sniff a new fragrance. Outrageous!, with an exclamation point, was created in 2007, developed for and sold exclusively by Barney’s in New York, so the target customer was young, metrosexual, androgynous. In a word, cool. Sophia Grojsman, creator of Tresor, Eternity, Paris, Calyx, was chosen as the perfumer, and her minimalist style, smooth, silky, clean and linear, was the perfect expression for Barney’s Outrageous!

According to the Malle website, “the idea for Outrageous poured out of a Caipirinha cocktail in Brazil: samba on the beach, bursts of orange and blue in low light, crashing waves and the ecstatic laughs of the young and sexy. It’s dramatic, festive and colorful, what Frédéric likes to call “clean sex appeal”.

The Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail and is made with cachaca, which is sugar-cane hard liquor, sugar, and lime. I’ve never had the pleasure of drinking a caipirinha but it sounds delicious, maybe similar to a mojito, which is made with rum. (Read about Batucada, another fragrance from L’Artisan Parfumeur which is based on the caipirinha.)

The notes for the 2007 and 2017 versions are “bergamot, tangerine and green apple against a lusty backdrop of cinnamon, musk and ambroxan”. I don’t smell lime or orange or apple, I smell fruit but I feel like it’s not real, I’m smelling the idea of fruit from looking at a glossy photo of fruits in a bowl. It smells chilled, artificial, but really interesting. As Outrageous dries down, the fruit “idea” becomes drier and spicier. Is it cinnamon? Could be. And then Outrageous smells like outdoors, the scent of clean cotton in warm sun as the ambroxan wafts up. Now I smell warm skin, which means there are bodies, people wearing that clean cotton, warm bodies in jeans, tees, and shirts. There is definitely “sex appeal”.  

The new issue of Outrageous, without an exclamation point, is different from just about any other perfume I've ever sniffed. It offers no ditinctive notes, no lemons, no roses, no woods, no leather. It’s effect is unexpected, it’s a quiet aromatic scent that smells abstract, but pure and sensual at the same time. It’s definitely outside the norm for what we expect from Frédéric Malle and Sophia Grojsman. Outrageous is a scent that very subtly inspires images and ideas, and I think it’s perfect for thinking people who don’t like wearing perfume, as well as for those who do. It’s Outrageous, and it’s fascinating.  

Outrageous is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.