Style | The Aesthete

Frédéric Malle talks personal style

Frédéric Malle has created perfumes for Christian Lacroix and Hermès, and commissions the top noses for his own Editions de Parfums series.

December 01 2009
Maria Shollenbarger

My personal style signifier is my Rolex Submariner. It has a band made of vintage army fabric, which I bought separately from the watch face. I’m told Sean Connery wears something similar in Dr No. Submariner, from £3,740; www.rolex.com.

The last meal that left me truly impressed was at Sushi of Gari in Manhattan. It was very unusual, and terribly creative; there were moments that honoured the omakase [chef’s selection] tradition, and ones that broke with it completely. At one point I think I actually said, “Wow!” 370 Columbus Avenue, New York 10024 (+1212-362 4816; www.sushiofgari.com).

My favourite websites are Christianlouboutin.com, the only commercial website that really looks like the person and not the brand: very human and great fun. I read Lemonde.fr on my iPhone, just to make sure France still exists. And I like Slate.fr, which is a mix of Le Monde and [online magazine] Slate, whose people are also The Washington Post people.

My most recent insider find is my exceptional Pilates instructor, Peter Vaillancourt. The atmosphere in his studio is very democratic, with all sorts; not like the places I went in Paris, where 90 per cent of the class were top dancers – unbelievably lithe, flexible people – and there I was next to them, feeling like Shrek. 1841 Broadway, Suite 11041, New York 10023 (+1212-977 8894; www.courtpilates.com).

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of headphones by Sennheiser with an incredibly pure sound. They’re the only noise-cancelling headphones that actually work. From £102; www.sennheiser.co.uk.

An object I’d never part with is a little bronze sculpture that my father had on his desk for as long as I can remember, which very much defined him. It’s a 16th-century standing nude, a lovely woman. I have had it with me ever since he died.

My favourite room is the corner library in my new flat, from which I can see Central Park. The view is a postcard of New York, one I will never get tired of looking at.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Moscow, last winter. I toured the Kremlin and the Kolomenskoye monastery – both spare, immense, white spaces. You realise how [the Russian painter] Malevich came to his particular form of abstraction, that white-on-white: it was right in front of him. It’s part of their culture; there’s an extraordinary, cold beauty there.

The last music I downloaded was George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, which is very nostalgic for me; I listened to it as a kid. I also bought the entire Cat Stevens oeuvre. It’s man-made music, which I love – a real analogue sound, not at all cleaned up.

The people I rely on for grooming and style include my very good barber in New York, Paul Molé, where you can get a – how best to say this? – a no-bullshit haircut. You see so many men with strange haircuts. A coiffeur who thinks he’s an artist – this is absolutely what a man does not want. A man wants a barber. 1031 Lexington Avenue, New York 10012 (+1212-988 9176).

The book on my bedside table is A Rebours by JK Huysmans; but I am a much more visual than literary person. I’ll look at art, rather than read, most days.

The grooming staples I’m never without include the latest Gillette razor – I’m quite obsessed with having the newest one. They’re always the best, I find. And Kiehl’s shampoo and conditioner, because they are sold in enormous, not-bad-looking containers. www.gillette.com. Kiehl’s, 29 Monmouth Street, London WC2 (020-7240 2411; www.kiehls.com) and branches/stockists.

In my fridge you’ll always find a bit of everything, really. There is nothing more depressing to me than an empty refrigerator. What you’ll always find in my freezer are stacks of sorbet from Sant Ambroeus – it’s the best in the city. 1000 Madison Avenue, New York 10021 (+1212-570 2211; www.santambroeus.com).

The best gift I’ve given recently was a Lanvin denim dress for my wife, which suits her incredibly well. And it pleased her tremendously, which made it an excellent gift. 128 Mount Street, London W1 (020-7491 1839; www.lanvin.com).

And the best gift I have received was the same dress, because I took so much pleasure in seeing her in it – as I knew I would when I bought it.

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Paris, because it’s home. And I think you sort of go full circle in life and end up where your home is. The other city I always think I might live in one day is Los Angeles, because I’m struck by how much fun I always have when I’m there, and I meet very interesting people, clever people, which bucks the stereotype of LA a bit.

See also

People, Interview