In case you think that the new perfume is a tutti-frutti concoction, you can relax. "I hate fruity fruity!"she declares. Malone looked at thousands of submissions before solving the puzzle by adding spice notes to create the core pomegranate aroma that she says people will find so addictive. Malone likens her latest creation to having a child. It took two years to make, far less time than Nectarine Blossom & Honey (inspired by the aroma of a crate of fresh nectarines), which took her nearly 11 years, and more time than Verbenas of Provence (inspired by the citrus scent of a restaurant in Hong Kong), which she mastered in just one month. Although Malone says that she could probably "turn one out every week,"she admits that that doesn't interest her at all.
Every time Malone completes a new fragrance, she has a few small rituals. First she lets her husband smell it. Then she'll have a glass of wine and go out for a lovely dinner. (For Pomegranate Noir, she and her husband went to Baccarat's Cristal Room, where she wore an Alice Temperley dress and, of course, her new fragrance.) And finally, Malone makes up 50 tiny bottles to distribute to a changing group of friends and acquaintances.
Before joining forces with Estée Lauder, Malone had the luxury of deciding who would wear her fragrances. "In the early years, I wouldn't sell a bottle of fragrance to someone I didn't like. I don't think I can do that anymore!"she says, laughing. "But I do want it to be perfect, so I have complete creative control and I won't release a scent until it's ready, no matter what the marketing people say!"she adds. Her nose is insured, but does she ever worry about losing her gift? "If it goes, it goes,"she says matter-of-factly. "Last year, I did eight months of chemotherapy, and I couldn't smell a thing during that time. And then for two months after that I thought I had lost the ability to create. And then it came back. My sense of smell is even more acute -- and my hair actually grew back thicker than ever!"
Photo courtesy of Norbert Mayer