Henri Rousseau famous “Le Rêve” (1910) … Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle bottle via FRÉDÉRIC MALLE painting via Wikipedia, photo montage by Emmanuelle Varron).
Although I’ve been a perfumista for many years, I have never really ventured into green fragrances mainly because I’ve never found them beautiful on my skin. I have tried Lalique Encre Noire and Vetiver Extrême from Guerlain, but I would always come back to my comfort scents, ambers, leathers and tuberoses. My first foray was barely two years ago when I suddenly fell in love with Chanel N ° 19, for its iris facet and the omnipresence of its bewitching note of galbanum, which I never loved before. Then, a few months ago I experienced Parfum d´Empire Mal-Aimé and Eris Parfums Green Spell two magnificent odes to the genre capturing all its splendor, depth and wild character. Since then, I was on the lookout for perfumes that would fuel my brand-new love. Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle gave me the opportunity today to review one of the most intriguing and ver(t)satile (vert meaning green in French) compositions of Fall 2021.
Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle via the brand
Renowned perfumer Anne Flipo was given the honor to bring Synthetic Jungle to life; you can tell that she took up the challenge with enthusiasm and commitment. It was not an easy assignment as Frédéric Malle wanted his collection to include a ‘green’ fragrance. M. Malle had a very clear vision: this new edition would be a nod to two great classics of perfumery Chanel N ° 19 and Estée Lauder Private Collection, but with a unique and modern twist. A difficult task for any perfumer, including Anne Flipo who has great expertise working with floral and vegetal notes.
Anne Flipo quote on Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle (quote via PR, edited by Emmanuelle Varron).
Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle is a polarizing fragrance that you might love or dislike…but you will not be indifferent. It is necessary to understand that some florals cannot be reproduced without synthetic molecules. Examples are lily of the valley, hyacinth, and carnation which when used in perfumery rely almost solely “synthetic” molecules to create an accord (famously Diorissimo by Edmond Roudnitska). Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle also delivers a message in its bottle with its name… nature is not the only communicator of aromas and scents.
Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle “avant-première” display at Le Bon Marché department store (pictures by Emmanuelle Varron).©
It took many wearings for me to appreciate Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle. I confess; my first impression was I didn’t like it (based solely on my skin chemistry). I took a full week of testing before the complexity of Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle was finally revealed: still a very green opening, intensified by basil, hyacinth and lily of the valley but with a more luminous and tangy quality thanks to juiciness of blackcurrant. And then, that mysterious styrallyl acetate (which I had to go Google). Styrallyl acetate gives body to the gardenia accord and is reminiscent of rhubarb, which is predominant on my wrist: colorful, luscious and intense. An hour into Synthetic Jungle I perceive more “natural” floralcy. I noticed the styrallyl acetate gardenia facet which is accompanied by solar accords of jasmine and ylang-ylang. What surprised me is that jasmine normally disappears on my skin. However in Frédéric Malle Synthétic Jungle, it miraculously unfolds making it sophisticated, chic and seemingly lit from within.
And here is the final touch! When herbs, fruits and flowers have finally found their place, the temperature rises, and the galbanum-patchouli-oakmoss triptych plays a familiar score: the famous chypre accord. A vintage vibe, reminiscent of the flagship perfumes of the 70s, but totally modern. It’s here I find that Nature transcends the seasons with “green” sap as a treasure of life.
If synthesized nature is the common thread running through Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle, I have not forgotten that it was also inspired by two great classics. I had fun wearing it on my wrist while comparing it to Chanel N ° 19 and Estée Lauder Private Collection, the latter two on paper. The parentage is indeed present, undeniably, but without imitation. The powdery facet of these two creations launched half a century ago is not perceptible (or even present) in Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle; the chypre aspect seems almost “dusted” giving Anne Flipo’s creation a modern and unexpected take. It is a scent of patience, of reconciliation with a wild nature that M. Malle artistically links to Henri Rousseau “Le Douanier.” Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle had me rethink my preconceived notions of notes and ingredients and changed the way of how I will wear perfume in the years to come. That’s how we all should think of perfume …and much more.
Notes: basil, hyacinth accord, lily of the valley accord, jasmine Egypt oil, ylang-ylang oil, galbanum, blackcurrant base, styrallyl acetate, patchouli, oakmoss.
Disclaimer: An “immense merci” to Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle for the Synthetic Jungle bottle provided for this review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Emmanuelle Varron, Senior contributor
With Contributions from Michelyn Camen Editor-in-Chief
Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle 7 ml miniature (picture by Emmanuelle Varron).
We have a 7 ml miniature of Frédéric Malle Synthetic Jungle for one registered reader worldwide. To be eligible, please leave a comment on what you feel about Emmanuelle’s review, where you live and which is your favorite “green” raw material in perfumery or your favorite Frédéric Malle perfume. Draw closes 09/4/2021.
Available on Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle website, in department stores and Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle boutiques worldwide.
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