Le Parfum de Thérèse was created by Edmond Roudnitska for his wife during the 1960s, and was not made available publicly until after his death, when Frederic Malle procured the formula for his line. It is an aldehydic floral with notes of mandarin, melon, jasmine, pepper, violet, rose, plum, nutmeg, cedar, vetiver, and leather.
Thérèse starts with sweet, over-ripe fruit, but the sweetness is perfectly tempered by the spice notes, and it demonstrates beautifully that a fragrance based on sweet, over-ripe fruit does not have to smell insipid, as it sadly does in so many recent fruity florals. The top notes are very peppery; later the nutmeg takes over, and the fruit notes slowly become more tart than sweet.
The jasmine is not the spacious, almost transparent jasmine of Eau Sauvage and Diorella, but a deeper, more animalic jasmine, a more jasmine-ish jasmine if you will. I can just barely make out a touch of rose, and the base is woody with a lovely, very soft leather note. It is animalic, but not at all harsh.
It is a lush, languid fragance, but it does not feel in the least heavy, in fact, it has a kind of clarity that is in stark contrast to Roudnitska’s very early work, such as Rochas Femme. To my mind, it is the ultimate expression of his efforts to avoid complicated, muddled perfumes.
Parfum de Thérèse is a simply stunning perfume, and would certainly make my list of desert island fragrances. I rather like the plain, almost utilitarian packaging of the Editions de Parfums line, but Thérèse in particular I would rather see in a more ornate bottle.
For purchasing information, see the listing for Frederic Malle under Perfume Houses.