Le Parfum de Therese by Frederic Malle ~ perfume review

Parfum de Thérèse

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.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    and some of us got the cards, tried again and SCORED. *hint*

    this is lovely, per usual. especially the “transparent” vs. “jasminish- jasmine” … I love nearly all the Malles I've tried and can't wait to try this one.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi R! I used to love PDT and many FMs and then something tragic happened – I got bored with them. I know they are rather unique and lovely but frankly i do not think I “love” any enough to re-purchase ever.

  3. Anonymous says:

    M, I love Hiver & En Passant, and like Lipstick Rose & Lys Mediterranee. Surprisingly, the JCE ones (Bigarade & Angeliques) don't work for me. I need to try Vetiver Extraordinaire & Une Rose. It is a lovely line…wouldn't you love to have famous noses create whatever they wanted for you? I am surprised no other line has tried to imitate this approach.

  4. Anonymous says:

    N, I hope I never get bored with Therese. I think of it as one of the few “serious” perfumes I own.

    Hope you are still chilling out this week & not working too hard!

  5. Anonymous says:

    The body lotion version of Therese is fantastic. You need to get it if you don't have it already. Therese is the scent I reach for in the morning if I overindulged the night before. It always cheers me up and motivates me to go out in my best clothes, but my respect for its powers are such that I don't like to take it for granted by wearing it all the time. I'm not much of a jasmine aficionado, but Therese is indispensable to me. Cheers!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I've read somewhere that this is what l'Artisan do – parfumeurs approach them with ideas (I can't imagine many houses commissioning Bois Farine, which I adore!).

    I did the questionnaire on the FM site, and they very kindly sent me a mini of l'Eau d'Hiver. But I was kind of hoping they'd send me PdT, as that was the one that really intrigued me! If you do the questionnaire more than once, do they spot that they've sent to you already? And what are the right answers to get PdT? LOL.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I had never heard that about L'Artisan, interesting.

    And I have no idea how to get the PdT! I'd be thrilled to get the Hiver, for that matter. I can't remember what they recommended for me, but I know they were not the ones that are my current favorites. Apparently many have done the questionnaire more than once though, or so I've read on MakeupAlley.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oooooh, I would love to have that body lotion!!! I almost never buy a matching lotion, since I have too many fragrances and can barely use them up as it is. But in PdT, it is tempting. Next time I get to Barneys I'll have to see if they allow you to try it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I liked this one a lot until the melon note came out and that bugged me beyond belief. Such a lovely fragrance and it would be even more stunning if it weren't for that dreaded melon!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Second Atreau's feeling on the melon. Everything else about Therese was perfect, and then suddenly the malevolence of melon. I know, some people love melon. I love melon too. To eat.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Oh, dear, this one sounds like I must try it. My sampling list is already 25 items long!

    From your wonderful description, it sounds like I will like Therese much better than Lipstick Rose. Hhmm, maybe I need to take that little quiz at the FM website.

    R, totally agree about the FM bottles though, they are beautifully simple, but perhaps the Therese could have had more adornment.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I adore this “serious” perfume. Alas, it disappears on my skin! It's not just my insensitive nose. I've asked others, and they can't smell it on me either. Waah!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Funny, but it doesn' t smell overly melon-ish to me, just sort of generic fruity.

  14. Anonymous says:

    That is just how I feel about Dinner by Bobo. I like to eat dinner, not wear it. In this case, it doesn't strike me as overly foody. Maybe my nose is missing something.

  15. Anonymous says:

    25 items is not so many! You have many years of life left on this planet, right?

    Go take the quiz, see if you get the bottles!

    But, you might hate it. I think it is a love-it-or-hate-it scent.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Really? I am surprised, although I have to admit the lasting power isn't stellar on me either — but I do get around 3-4 hours at least.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hello René here:

    The moment when someone tries to “imitate” this approach is not far.

    Just be a little patient

    all the best

  18. Anonymous says:

    René, I can't wait to hear what you are up to!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I really wanted to like this, but it literally makes me sick! Not many perfumes do that to me…Bandit is another one that gives me that “gag” reflex,too.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You are not alone, P! Bandit is too much leather for me, but I hardly notice it in the PdT. Maybe it is the melon that you don't like, like several of the other comments.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I thought I'd successfully tricked them into giving me PdT too, and then I got a recommendation for Musc Ravageur (and also Noir Epices) instead. Luckily most of them sound quite neat as well. I'm going to be in LA later in August, maybe I can wait to sniff them all, although I've had luck with unsniffed purchases.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Did they send you minis or the scented cards?

    Buying unsniffed so rarely works for me, but if it usually does for you, go for it! Or you could always buy the tester kit of 5 ml minis. It is a wonderful set and I think worth the cost.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I am waiting to see on the Minis or the cards. The agony! (My Ormonde Jayne sample set is taking awhile too, as they ran out of bottles. Linda sent me a very nice email…) I will certainly look into the Malle sample set. I'll also try Barneys in LA, and maybe invest then and there.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I can't remember the cost of the set, but I think it is around $100. Very much worth it if you end up liking lots of them, obviously not worth it if you don't, or if you get free minis of your favorites. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Got my Ormondes. Haven't had much of a chance to wear them yet, as I'm in the process of moving. Have you worn the Musc Raveguer at all? I notice the nose is the same as Tocade, which I love, but also Be Delicious, which was too literalist for me.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Musc Ravageur is one of the many fragrances that strikes me as very well done, but I have no desire to wear. It just doesn't suit me.

    Good luck with the Ormonde Jaynes!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Yippee! Got the samples – strangely, no Noir Epices, but Musc and the Therese (Hurrah! Hurrah!) and Eau D'Hiver. I'm trying to be good and wear them on a day when I have time to just wander around all day sniffing myself.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Yay, good for you!! Hope you love them. Therese & Hiver are 2 of my favorites; have a sample of Noir Epices but haven't tried it yet.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I'm a little worried that the Hiver will be too sheer. We'll see. I love nutmeg, so that 's probably the Epices connection. Sniffing the Therese bottle I got *melon* or at least watery fruit, but I quite like the note and am interested in the heart and drydown.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Love Therese!

    No melon or even jasmine on me. I get

    lots of soft leather with prune like feel. When I first tried Therese my first thought was Femme! Yes I

    know Edmond Rousdnitska created both.

    The dry down on me is soft leathers,in a way similar to Cuir de Russie by Chanel.

    Also own Hiver,pretty

    fragrance easy to wear and not as faint as the

    Angeliques sous la Pluie. Heliotrope,honey and musk.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I don't know why I don't love Femme, but I don't! The Therese to me is perfection, though, and love Hiver as well :-)

  32. Anonymous says:

    I loved this in the bottle but unfortunately it induced such a headache that I can no longer wear it. I used to love this one too.

  33. Anonymous says:

    It is very strong & aldehydic, so not surprised it gave you a headache. I do wear it very lightly, as it can overwhelm.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Hmm. I happen to have a small vial of this in a very special collection… and my first impression wasn't great. I'll take another look now…

  35. Anonymous says:

    Hope it will make a better 2nd impression, but I do know lots of people who hate it.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Oh, Robin, I just tried Therese on my lunch break. OMIGOD. What a monumental fragrance. Talk about va-va-va-VOOM!!! It actually reminded me slightly, emotionally, of Rochas Femme, and now I see it's the same nose, so I feel as though I perhaps have the capacity to learn from what my nose is telling me and from what I learn from you and your fans. It's wafting all around me now in this fruity/nutmeg cloud. Yikes!! Thank you so much for leading me to this one. Interestingly, I also love En Passant, which couldn't be further away from Therese on the stylistic spectrum. I can tell I'm going to have alot of fun with FM. xo Robin from Vancouver

  37. Anonymous says:

    So glad you like it! And yes, it does recall Rochas Femme.

    And I adore En Passant as well. It is a really wonderful line altogether.

  38. Anonymous says:

    This is so fun!! My mind is really opening up to all the nuances of these very, very original releases. I may even aquire the sophistication to go ga-ga over l'Hiver in the very near future!!! It's SO much a question of mood, isn't it? I just tried Lipstick Rose and swooned in a cloud of turkish delight candy; got all sexy and feral-feeling with Cassie; calmed right down with Angelique; swooned in a deeper, darker, racier way with Une Rose. And Therese is just one of those Very Important Fragrances to straighten up and respect the second I spray it. Would you please tell me what your desert island scents are — the ones I might be able to find in Vancouver???? Thanks; and if you just don't have the time, I totally understand. I can't believe you maintain such an amazing site.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I'm late, I know, but I am just trying this fragrance. I liked it okay alone, but I felt like it needed a little more. I layered it with a dab of Diorissimo parfum and I really like it.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Ah, you're layering it w/ another Roudnitska scent! I'll have to try that.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I love Femme by Edmond Roudnitska and I will know if I could like this one too. Thanks

  42. Anonymous says:

    Maybe, although I love Therese and don't really love Femme.

  43. sharviss says:

    I just tried this and am definitely in the strongly dislike camp. I think maybe it’s the jasmine or possibly the leather and jasmine together. What I don’t like about this fragrance is the same thing I don’t like about PG’s Psychotrope – if that makes sense.
    I’m still too new to be 100% sure about what exactly I’m smelling. I think I need one of those perfume note kits!

    • Robin says:

      I don’t remember Psychotrope well enough to say what they have in common, sorry!

  44. Joe says:

    Just wanted to mention I’m sampling this for the first time today and it really is lovely, though for me it is more floral (violet-heavy?) than fruity. An amazing composition, and I love your review. I’d love to have a bottle and will at least get a travel size someday, but I think my next Malle will be Cassie. This line is so exquisite.

    • Robin says:

      It is such an incredible line. And I still haven’t smelled the new one!

  45. enidan says:

    I have the weirdest relationship with Th. It is beautiful, it’s complex and unfathomable and very, very potent but not at all heavy, as you said. I really do admire it, and for the longest while I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel the urge to wear it, but I’ve recently understood that it’s because this perfume makes me so very sad. And since I’ve made this realisation sniffing it almost makes me choke up. Certainly the strongest visceral reaction I’ve yet experienced with perfume.

    • Robin says:

      How interesting! Someone commented here w/ a very similar reaction to another perfume recently, wish I could remember which.

  46. sun365 says:

    It is a stunning fragrance. It would have been perfect if it lasted longer. On me it is gone after 2 hours and re-apply it constantly comes out too expensive :((

    I wonder if there is anything comparable to this perfume but cheaper…

    • sun365 says:

      Ok, not cheaper but with a better lasting power. Just read the comments above again. Jasmine-leather – the perfect combination!

      • Robin says:

        Oh my, it lasts much longer than that on me! I can’t think of anything that’s exactly like, but you might want to explore some of Roudnitska’s other fragrances w/ similar themes: Diorella, Diorama (discontinued but in case you happen across some), Rochas Femme, Eau d’Hermes.

  47. sun365 says:

    I have tried Diorella (vintage and new), new Femme. With vintage Femme I had a sad experience on E-bay when the perfume was spoiled to the last molecule… Now I’m waiting for a sample of vintage through swap.
    Diorella is a little too dry for me, new Femme turns unexpectedly sweet after that interesting cumin note.
    I’ll try Eau d’Hermes but i think it would be too “cologny”.

    • Robin says:

      It’s probably not as “cologne-y” as you’d expect — give it a shot!

      But so sorry about your vintage Femme, that’s a shame.

  48. sun365 says:


    I tried Eau d’Hermes today….Not “cologne-y” at all!! Quite the opposite – smell of unwashed for a couple of months body. LOL! The opening reminded me a little bit of Femme, but much stronger.
    Thanks for the suggestion. It was fun!

    • Robin says:

      LOL…ok, that one is not for you. Glad you got to try it though!

  49. turbovivi says:

    I am wearing this today (finally got my little sample size from The Perfumed Court!). So far all I can smell is the melon. Hopefully the nutmeg and pepper set in soon.

    • Robin says:

      How did it end up, like or no like?

      • turbovivi says:

        Thumbs up on this one. The longer it stayed on my skin, the better I liked it. My unusually picky husband did not comment about it (out of over 100 perfumes I tried, he only likes one – Le Labo’s LABDANUM 18 – so no comment is a very good sign).

        Today I’m wearing L’eau d’hiver. The honey scent is insanely comforting on a dark cloudy day like today. It is a very creamy scent, but clean.

        I have three more to go: En passant, Carnal Flower, and Vétiver Extraordinaire.

      • turbovivi says:

        After sampling all for few days now. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will need to splurge for a full bottle (or maybe the travel set) of Vetiver Extraordinaire. It is indeed my most favorite of the whole set that I sampled – closely followed by La Parfume de Therese and L’Eau d’Hiver.

        Carnal Flower smells wonderfully on me, but it created an interesting phenomenon that it interferes with our meals. Not only mine, but both my children and my husband commented about the “flavor” of the perfume during meal – as if they can taste it in their mouths.

        En passant is only ok for me – the cucumber in it killed any thought of ever purchasing it.

        • Robin says:

          A mixed travel set would get you all 3…perfect!

          • turbovivi says:

            Is it possible to purchase a mixed travel set online? Or is this something that I can only do in one of his stores?

          • Robin says:

            You used to be able to get them online or in stores. Then, I think the US stopped offering them online. So, I’m not sure, esp. since I don’t know where you live. If you’re in the US, I would call the boutique in NYC and ask, if you’re elsewhere, I’d see if the website lets you order a mixed set.

  50. lise says:

    In love with this perfume. Wearing it today, and feeling like a million dollar. It is so feminine, classy and beautyful!

  51. dolcesarah says:


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