Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male

What can I say that hasn't already been said about this classic fragrance for Men, US 2011 FiFi Award Hall of Fame winner Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male (1995)? It's unique, groundbreaking, every bit as iconic as the famous torso-shaped bottle the fragrance is housed in. I've seen this bottle on countless shelves, only to walk right past it, imagining it must be another orange blossom like Fleur du Mâle and Classique for Women. Well, it is an orange blossom scent, but it comes disguised as something else. It arrives on the scene smelling like Brut, Chanel Bleu, maybe even Axe deodorant, although I have yet to smell that. If I didn't exercise patience, I'd write it off as being too aggressively bracing, traditionally masculine Fougère, too "locker room" or at worst He-Man Woman Hater in its absence of delicacy, but wait for it - those aromatic pine notes morph and reveal the true self beneath. If you thought Fleur du Mâle (2007) was the definitive masculine Floral, here is a similar musky floral accord, only a bit lightened up to something akin to Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier (2004). There's even a softly creamy, buttery touch, something I've smelled in Guerlain Metallica (2000 - aka Metalys) in combination with sharp, green violet top notes. Now, I understand the evolution of these types of masculine fragrances, and Metallica finally makes sense.

So, to summarize, this is a musk fragrance - specifically, a musky orange blossom Floral Oriental juxtaposed against a very interesting counterpoint in seemingly contrary motion, the classic Fougère accord. I wore it on and off all through last month in order to finally "get" it, and I think I do, and I can move on now without a bottle for myself. Among perfumer Francis Kurkdjian's creations, my favorite is still MaDame followed by APOM pour Femme, but because the traditionally feminine floralcy in Le Male is relatively quiet, Le Male is a good alternative for those times when the other JPGs seem a bit too in-your-face intense.