Frederic Malle Dries van Noten

dries van notes par frederic malle

I have two reviews for Frederic Malle Dries van Noten. The first review is the matter-of-fact one. Frederic Malle has stated that he wanted this perfume to capture Flemish desserts, and perfumer Bruno Jovanovic’s interpretation is remarkably literal. Think Jeux de Peau, Serge Lutens’s danish with apricot jam. Dries van Noten is a more polished pastry, a crepe drizzled with lemon juice and sugar. I like Dries van Noten best at the beginning, when the bite of saffron and the lemon note temper those very sweet waffles. The sandalwood dry down is pretty, but no matter how many times Frederic Malle says “Mysore sandalwood”, I find it a little scratchy and thin.

Dries van Noten is $180 for 50 ml. There are very few perfumes that are actually worth $180 for 50 ml, and I personally do not feel that Dries van Noten is one of them. If it had more saffron and creamier sandalwood, I might consider $150. But it’s probably worth noting that I can’t think of any particularly similar fragrances that would be cheaper substitutes.

Now the second review.

I wore Dries van Noten when Drew was visiting from London this past week. It was the right perfume for the polka-dotted dress I wore to impress him on his first day back. It was the right perfume for our sunny walks with the cat stroller under the magnolia and dogwood trees. And it was the right perfume for my inevitable endless crying on his last day, when everything was a last; the last time he would hold the cat that he helped me choose, the last time we would go to a favorite restaurant together, the last time I could reach for his hand and feel him squeeze back.

Frederic Malle writes that Dries van Noten is supposed to convey “the sober warmth” of Belgium, and I really and truly sense that. For such a sweet perfume, Dries van Noten is not particularly light-hearted. Seriousness is a rare quality in modern perfumes, which are more likely to be marketed as “playful” or “flirty!” Drew’s visit was wonderful, but it was also incredibly sad, and Dries van Noten felt somehow respectful of both of those aspects of our time together.


I’m still not paying $180 for it.

24 thoughts on “Frederic Malle Dries van Noten

  1. OMG! I will pay the money ASAP. I just LOVE it so much and on my skin it SINGS!!
    I’m sad you didn’t adore it but glad it was timely, and sad for you, but happy for you too because now you can fly,
    Portia xx

    1. Portia, I’m so happy DvN works so well for you. I haven’t dismissed it completely- I’d really like to spray it (rather than just dab) and see if that makes any difference.

  2. I’m so happy for you that you got to see Drew. I’m so very sad for you that you will not be seeing Drew. I’m glad the DVNpFM worked for you. This was a close to a blind buy as I get. Smelled the sampler on a blotter once and then carried it around with me in a zipper top plastic bag to preserve the smell. When the call came from the SA at Barney’s saying the bottles just came in, while I was just getting on a flight to Houston, I whipped out my wallet and didn’t hesitate for second and bought it on the spot.
    How much longer before finals and graduation?

    1. Oh! I adore your love story with DvN! Thank you for your kind words, Tatiana. Finals and graduation are not far at all now- my last final is May 11th, and graduation is the 23rd. This is much earlier than I said I would be back, but it’s made me so sad to watch the spambots descend on this blog I’ve put so much into!

  3. Oh lord, this so reminds me of my last semester in college. I was going to grad school in Austin, my boyfriend had a banking job in Richmond, so we were breaking up. But we were together until it ended. That’s not an easy thing to bear. UGH. So sorry. But I’m glad you got a last weekend, and that you got to enjoy a special perfume for it too.

    1. Thank you, Susan. Drew only accepted his Ohio State offer in March, a whole semester of knowing you were breaking up sounds like absolute torture.

      1. Oh gosh, well, it wasn’t really a full semester. I think we made the decision sometime around late March or early April when I decided to go to UT for grade school. So similar timeframe. sigh.

    1. James, I was going to put off trying it until I was able to make it to a Barney’s New York, but the blog reviews are exactly what convinced me that I needed to buy a sample. Come back and let us know what you thought of it!

  4. Well, I certainly thought about the price but in the end couldn’t say no to it. 🙂 So now I have it, I must say it went into regular circulation. It’s the perfume I choose most often these days. 🙂

  5. I’m glad you and Drew got that time together, even if it wasn’t a promise of more time. I was in a relationship in grad school and it didn’t continue when I came home, so I can definitely relate.

    I’ve heard such great things about DvN. I’ve gotta try it.

  6. I already tweeted a comment to you about this, but just chiming in that I’m glad you and Drew got to have a visit.

    1. Natalie, I appreciate this comment and your tweet so much. I feel so grateful that Drew and I had this time where we were together and strong, rather than the horrible drift away.

  7. Sending a hug, sweets.

    And it’s always bittersweet to have a vivid memory associated with such an emotional time. Just last week I spritzed on a bit of Poison, which I didn’t wear in college but which was such a part of the landscape there that I was immediately transported back to the amazingly/stupidly/heartbreakingly convoluted relationship I had with a college friend. I still miss him. AAARGGH.

    1. I read that post WAY before you commented. 😉 And found it really beautiful. And totally relate to not being much of a “big hair, menace, and sex” kind of gal.

  8. What a wonderful blend of the informative and the poignant! I am curious to try this scent, not least because of my fondness for Belgium, which gets a bit of a bad rap as the dull cockpit of Europe, aside from its moules frites and rather heavy beers.

    Glad you got to see Drew briefly, even if it was so bittersweet…

    1. Thank you so much, Vanessa. I’m so relieved to hear this post struck a good balance- I was afraid that I was leaning a bit far towards the sappy.

      I have never been to Belgium, but I remember that in Paris, being mistaken for “Le Belge” was not a compliment. 😀

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