Earlier this year, at the tail end of Paris Fashion Week, we were invited to the new Acne Studios headquarters to preview and experience their very first fragrance, created in collaboration with perfume publisher Frédéric Malle. Fast-forward a month, and we’re finally able to share our experience of the forthcoming fragrance, which is equal parts fresh, unexpected, and avant-garde.

Both brands meet at the intersection of fashion, art, and perfumery to fuse a shared ethos into one unmistakable scent. Featuring magnetic aldehydes and bewitching orange blossom, the fragrance is light and floral with key ingredients like peach, vanilla, sandalwood, and musk.

The collaborative effort from Frédéric Malle, Acne Studios creative director Jonny Johansson, and Suzy Le Helley, Symrise’s youngest nose. A young perfume prodigy mentored by the likes of master perfumers Annick Ménardo and Maurice Roucel, Le Helley is known for striking a balance between botanical ingredients and synthetics.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Le Helley and discuss the creative process behind this interesting scent.

Sidewalk Hustle: Give us a little behind-the-scenes look at your process. Where do you start when creating a bespoke fragrance?

Suzy Le Helley: There is no proper rule, each project is different and this one was very special. Acne Studios has a strong DNA and the fragrance should reflect this precious quality. Frédéric Malle is the best person to coordinate two creatives minds and guide both Jonny and myself to create such an ambitious perfume.


SH: What did you look to achieve with the Acne Studios par Frederic Malle collaboration?

SLH: We were just focusing on creating something aesthetically and technically beautiful with a neo classical touch. Revisiting the floral aldehydic structure with a radical modern twist. The idea was to offer an intemporal fragrance just like how an Acne Studios outfit can be. There are so many launches today on the market each year, I was personally engaged to design a scent that you would recognize and remember out of all of them.


SH: What was the experience like balancing a singular direction and vision for both brands in one scent?

SLH: Everything was going instinctually in the same direction. We started from a memorable clean laundry accord that reminds us of the Scandinavian light and refined designs. Then we built step by step a more luxurious perfume working on the floral powdery heart and the musky background that gave a soft and comforting feeling just like how the Acne Studio scarfs do.


SH: What were some of the obstacles you found in striking a balance with the two houses?

To be honest there was none, I feel very lucky !


SH: What is your favourite place to find inspiration when creating a new fragrance?

SLH: I love being in my own bubble but it could be anywhere. I am an early bird so I like arriving early at work in Clichy, slightly before 8am when nobody is there. I need a moment for myself in a peaceful atmosphere. We are also very lucky to have a special office 12 rue de Presbourg in Paris with an amazing view of l’Arc de Triomphe. This place is a gift for a creative mind to brainstorm and create.


SH: How was the process for this collaboration different from other fragrances you’ve formulated?

SLH: Every customer has a different working approach but this one was special for me because I discovered working closely with Frédéric and he is absolutely remarkable. He is respectful and understands my way of working step by step. We tried so many ingredients and dosages together and we were honest with each other if we thought they were good ideas or not! I enjoyed every working session with him.


SH: What are some of your personal favourite fragrances?

SLH: I have a lot but I am admiring Déclaration from Cartier, Féminité du Bois from Serge Lutens, Musc Ravageur from Frédéric Malle, Kenzo Jungle…Actually I realized that I love “easy to read” formulas, simple ideas and that are well executed.