"It's quite addictive, that thing," says Frédéric Malle, founder of legendary fragrance house Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. He's referring, of course, to Uncut Gem, a new outing in the olfactive arts that takes its name from Uncut Gems, the Safdie Brothers' 2019 masterpiece starring Adam Sandler and Julia Fox.
The fragrance, available online, is a careful configuration of perfumer Maurice Roucel's personal scent — a formula he created just for himself. "I always thought, 'Hm, this would be good for me; thank you very much,'" Malle says of Roucel's signature smell. "[He] wouldn't give it to me."
But after five years, Roucel agreed to lend his special juice to Malle. Tweaking and retuning Roucel's bespoke formula for Editions de Parfums, the pair retained the juniper, angelica, and mandarin of the original fragrance while adding in frankincense, musk, and a heaping of a new molecule called Ambrocenide Crystal — a powerfully woody, amber-y synthetic that Malle describes as "nuclear armament."
Brash yet delicate, hard yet soft, rough yet refined, Uncut Gem is a paradox, a dialectic between extremes. "Maurice is a very masculine guy and because it started from his perfume, I see [Uncut Gem] as very rugged, very manly," Malle says. But like all the entire Editions de Parfums collection (and fragrance in general), Uncut Gem is for everyone: "We've never labeled perfumes masculine or feminine... People [are] free to see themselves wearing them or not."
And now, the question you've all been waiting for Malle to answer: how does Uncut Gems, the movie, relate to Uncut Gem, the fragrance?
"I love the film," Malle says, clarifying that the scent's substance has "nothing to do with the theme of the perfume" — just its name.
"I was trying to call it [something like] Diamond in the Rough, which was not great. And then I got Uncut Gem. It's a little bit like Carnal Flower — the name was inspired by Carnal Knowledge, the film — or Portrait of a Lady, which is directly inspired by the book."
Still, there's something about Uncut Gem that, at first whiff, hooks you like the frenetic energy of a Safdie Brothers film. As haunting as Howard Ratner's demise, Malle and Roucel's latest will lodge itself firmly in your mind.