There’s something uniquely exciting about a collaboration between two artists working in entirely different mediums.
Perfumer Frédéric Malle and designer Pierre Hardy have certainly proved this to be true with their new collection of limited-edition travel sprays, which encase Malle’s captivating scents in elegant cylindrical tubes designed by Hardy.
This collaboration didn’t appear out of thin air—the fellow Frenchmen were friends and admirers of each other’s work long before they became colleagues. “I’m very bad at professional relationships. I mostly work with people I like—it’s my luxury in life,” says Malle.
Speaking of luxury… Only 1,500 of these covetable purse sprays were created, so act fast—they’re sure to disappear quickly, leaving just a whiff of enchantment behind. They are available at Barneys New York in New York City or Beverly Hills. Call 212 833 2652 for more information or to order.
But first, listen in below as they chat about their collaboration and design process.
How did this collaboration come about?
Frédéric: We are friends. And even before that, I had always admired Pierre’s work. I think we both look for the same things—simplicity and non-ostentatious luxury. We became friends through friends in common, and we clicked, so it was very natural for me to ask him to do the purse sprays.
Pierre: I’ve known Frédéric’s work for a long time, and I was in love with his aesthetic. When he came to me with this project, I was enchanted because it was the perfect timing for both of us.
What was it like working together?
Pierre: From my point of view, it has been very easy, probably because we knew a little bit about each other as friends, and I knew and loved his work. The basis of the relationship was there already before starting—all the biggest issues were already solved. We just had to think about the product and the aesthetic.
Frédéric: The difficulty for me was to choose amongst the different things that Pierre drew for me because I liked them all. I’m not just saying that to be cocky or nice. We have this mutual world that whatever he showed, I absolutely adored. Generally, your biggest question when you work with people is “How am I going to twist what he does to fit my world?” But here, I had the opposite embarrassment—it was “Which one am I going to choose?” I felt like a child in a patisserie where you want to eat everything.
Pierre, tell us about the design of the case. Did you approach it the same way you would approach designing a shoe or a bag?
Pierre: It’s quite different because perfume is totally virtual. For perfumers like Frédéric, perfume is a formula. It’s something very mental—he can figure it out in his mind without even smelling it; it’s an abstraction. So I asked, “How can I translate this perfume sensation?” because the object on which I worked was quite solid and plain. It’s a metal-type tube and I wanted to make it as feminine, kind and poetic as possible. That’s why I worked with color—it’s another abstract way of expression. It’s like a cloud—it’s something you feel, but you can’t touch.
Does scent play an important role in your life?
Frédéric: It plays a very big part. I was brought up with a mother who was working in this industry, so it’s always been a part of my life. Then when I started going out, I was falling in love with pretty girls who smelled good. I realized as a customer what good perfume could do in my life. I liked it so much that at one point, I decided to work with perfumers. Since then, perfume has played a huge part in my life. When I work on a perfume, I always have it in the back of my mind. So whenever I’m walking the streets or going out on weekends, it’s always there and everything becomes a source of inspiration. And I still fall in love with people that smell good.
Pierre: I think scent is the deepest part of the memory. For me, the scent is always linked with a place or someone or a moment or something very specific. It can be old memories from childhood or of people that are still there or not there anymore. The scent is really the only way to really keep this memory—this souvenir—of someone you can’t see or something or somewhere you can’t be. It’s the idea of memory. And when you love perfume, it’s probably because it reminds you of something that you loved before. I don’t know if it’s the same for everybody, but I know for me, it really works this way.
Shop the limited edition travel spray by Frédéric Malle and Pierre Hardy at Barneys New York in New York City and Beverly Hills. Call 212 833 2652 to order.
Images of Frédéric Malle and Pierre Hardy courtesy of Brigitte Lacombe; images of the travel sprays courtesy of Jacques Giaume.