Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Male : Fragrance Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The presence of orange blossom in Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Mâle is no more unexpected for a masculine perfume than the presence of Pelé in a list of world’s greatest footballers. After all, the classical eau de cologne relied on the bright sparkle of neroli (steam distilled oil of bitter orange flowers) in order to provide a fresh accent. However, while masculine blends like Yves Saint Laurent Kouros Fraîcheur and Creed Néroli Sauvage rely upon bracing citrusy and woody notes to frame the sweetness of orange blossom, Fleur du Mâle takes this radiant and bright note into a completely different realm—ornate, sensual and languorous. …

Fleur du Mâle was created by Francis Kurkdjian, the creator of Jean Paul Gaultier’s 1995 debut Le Mâle. With its name playing upon Charles Baudelaire’s collection of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil), Fleur du Mâle targets the same urbane and sophisticated male as Burberry London for Men and Paul Smith Story. If the first two take a somewhat more expected route—woody oriental in the case of the former and fresh woods in case of the latter, Fleur du Mâle has more flair.

Building upon its successful predecessor, Fleur du Mâle stakes out its masculine character with a crisp and transparent top accord. It further overdoses the orange blossom present in Le Mâle, while significantly lightening its sweet oriental base. After the woody-citrusy effervescence of the top notes subsides, the composition unfolds into smooth and velvety layers of flowers and woods. The indolic sweetness of orange blossom is supported by the decadently rich base, where a hay-like note of coumarin produces a delicious, powdery macaroon accent. Sensual without falling into the rugged macho bravura of classical fougère*, Fleur du Mâle is refreshingly different from typical masculine offerings.

Traditionally, feminine perfumery has been more open to experimentation and innovation. The new dramatic accords and unexpected twists like those created by some of the most famous fragrances in perfume history were marketed towards women. The advances in masculine perfumery were comparatively much slower, given the more conservative stance of the perceived target audience. Yet, whenever I tally up the innovative and distinctive compositions of the past couple of years in the prestige market, I immediately turn to the ones created for the masculine market–Dior Homme and Terre d’Hermès.

Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Mâle possesses great tenacity and sillage. It includes notes of petitgrain, lavender, orange blossom, coumarin. It is currently exclusive to Bloomingdales.

Fougère (pronounced as foo-jer) is a fragrance family that includes compositions offering an interplay among fresh, herbal, woody and mossy notes, such as bergamot, oakmoss, geranium, lavender and coumarin. Meaning “fern” in French, the name fougère derives from Houbigant Fougère Royale, a fragrance created by perfumer Paul Parquet in 1882 and is known to be the first perfume incorporating a synthetic material. Fougère is a diverse family including fragrances like Ralph Lauren Polo Sport, Davidoff Cool Water, Chanel Égoïste Platinum and L’Artisan Fou d’Absinthe.

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30 Comments

  • Elle: Mention hay and I’m torn between continuing to read or racing off to immediately order a sample (and exhibiting impressive self control in not ordering a full bottle unsniffed). I also need to finally purchase some coumarin so I can play w/ around w/ layering it.
    That really is interesting about the more innovative perfumes being in the masculine market these days. I wonder if it’s due to less financial risk as a result of lower expectations for overall sales. March 26, 2007 at 8:08am Reply

  • Marina: Sounds fantastic! And I mean wearable-fantastic. I am racing off after Elle to find a sample too 🙂 March 26, 2007 at 8:12am Reply

  • March: I keep bothering those ladies and they keep failing to produce a bottle (taps fingers impatiently)… maybe I’ll go by there today. I am anxious to smell this — it sounds lovely and I liked the original Le Male a lot (which to me smells like a slightly more masculine Gaultier2). Did you see the bottle? It looks SO gorgeous; is it frosted glass? Semi-transparent? It looks like shiny opaque glass in the photo, but it’s hard to tell. March 26, 2007 at 8:13am Reply

  • Tigs: I like the bottle, but I actually found this to be closer to the Fleurs du Mal – disappointing for me, since I like Kurkdjian. It had its moments, but there was a pervasive Windex note on the strip that made me hesitant to apply it on myself. I’m not a huge orange blossom fan, but I *love* hay and I didn’t get any. My husband like the heart notes but thought the top notes and later drydown smelled cheap. It was not a big hit around here, unfortunately. March 26, 2007 at 10:00am Reply

  • MarkDavid: At first sniff, I was disappointed because there really wasn’t a tremendous difference between the original Le Male and Fluer du Male. Eventually, the orange blossom really came out, but on me it took a while. Only after walking around the mall for 5 hours smelling my wrist, trying to decide if I wanted to buy it, deciding no and leaving the mall did I wish I had stayed about 15 minutes longer because then I really started to love it.

    Marina – the bottle is glossy opaque white. It is really gorgeous. March 26, 2007 at 10:12am Reply

  • Dusan: Langorous, yes that’s exactly what it is! I already told you how much I love the fact that Kurkdjian has explored different facets of orange blossom, from juicy to delicate to animalic, and I’m so happy to see that you enjoy FdM, too! Great review, Vika! xxx March 26, 2007 at 1:27pm Reply

  • Robin: To March — they have it at the Bloomingdales at White Flint.

    Great review V! March 26, 2007 at 2:01pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Is this just my impression or is Francis Kurkjian the most prolific “nose” of the moment? Just this year, the three Indults, the two MDCI, the two Juliette Has a Gun; before that, two Diors (Cologne Blanche and Eau Noire), not to mention all the Gaultier men’s scents, Narciso Rodriguez and Rose Barbare… He’s definitely on a creative role here. I haven’t smelled the MDCI and the Juliettes but so far, but he doesn’t seem to be stretching himself too thin, does he? March 26, 2007 at 2:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, it does not become obvious until the drydown, but yes, it provides a very interesting facet. I probably would not recommend Fleur de Male to a woman, because of its opening notes. The drydown is much less conventionally masculine, more like a soft powder. March 26, 2007 at 2:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, it is a very interesting fragrance, especially for a flanker. March 26, 2007 at 2:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, the bottle is completely opaque. I loved the presentation, but then again all of JPG bottles are striking. March 26, 2007 at 2:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tigs, do you mean Le Male, the original? March 26, 2007 at 2:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: MarkDavid, yes, the relationship to the original is quite clear, especially in the beginning. The middle accord is where the difference becomes more obvious. March 26, 2007 at 2:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dusan, yes, very much so! Now, I wonder how it will do among its target market. It is not a completely expected masculine, afterall. March 26, 2007 at 2:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, thank you! March 26, 2007 at 2:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I think that Francis Kurkdjian (and this is also the consensus among perfumers who worked with him) is among the most creative and talented perfumers. I very much admire him pushing the boundary and delving further into the artisanal market. Afterall, few young perfumers can boast of successes on par with his Le Male. I cannot wait what he does next. March 26, 2007 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Tigs: No, Victoria, sadly it was definitely the new one, Fleur du Male. There was something really bothersome in the early development (top and early heart notes). Maybe the tester had turned already? I thought it was the lavender – I love lavender, but there seemed to be something sharp and artificial-smelling in there. And, as I say, I didn’t really get the hay, although there was sweetness in the drydown. I generally really like Kurkdjian’s work…. March 26, 2007 at 4:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: E, oh, I just did not understand what you meant when you said, “I like the bottle, but I actually found this to be closer to the Fleurs du Mal – disappointing for me, since I like Kurkdjian.” March 26, 2007 at 4:31pm Reply

  • Tigs: V, I just meant that it was closer to “the Flowers of Evil” for me! Actually, I really like Baudelaire, too. March 26, 2007 at 6:35pm Reply

  • minette: i tried this at NM a few weeks ago and liked it – it would easy for a woman to wear, and i think it might take a very confident man to pull off. i was distracted by other scents that day, and need to retest it, but my first impression was positive. bloomies must be telling folks they have the exclusive, because neimans also has this. March 26, 2007 at 7:02pm Reply

  • Leoness: V, sorry to post this here, but do you think I would like Eau des Merveilles? I have an opportunity to buy it online pretty cheap. I don’t like the Prada advertised recently or D&G Light Blue, and I don’t care for Flowerbomb or Hanae Mori Butterfly. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I like Burberry Brit, Cartier’s Delices, Rock n Rose by Valentino, Narciso Rodriguez for Her (EDT), Coco Madamoiselle (EDP), and CK’s Euphoria. I saw your review of Eau des Merveilles- sounds intriguing. I don’t know if I should go out on a limb and buy without smelling first though. March 26, 2007 at 11:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: E, ok, that makes sense. 🙂 March 27, 2007 at 11:27am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Minette, then it seems that Bloomingdales have (or probably at this point, had) an exclusive on it. I have read about it in WWD, and so far, I have not spotted Fleur de Male nowhere else. Thanks for the information! I will update the links. March 27, 2007 at 11:29am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Minette, then it seems that Bloomingdales have (or probably at this point, had) an exclusive on it. I have read about it in WWD, and so far, I have not spotted Fleur du Male nowhere else. Thanks for the information! I will update the links. March 27, 2007 at 11:30am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, why not buy a sample of it on Ebay first? It seems that you do not like any of the fragrances with patchouli, and patchouli is quite strong in EdM. That is something to consider. March 27, 2007 at 11:33am Reply

  • Leoness: You’re right, I HATE patchouli! How funny. Maybe I won’t like EdM afterall, but good suggestion (although it involves exercising patience, which might be a problem). March 27, 2007 at 4:39pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Then definitely sample first! EDT is lighter on patchouli, but it is still distinct. March 27, 2007 at 4:44pm Reply

  • douglas: I took a chance and purchased a bottle. Initially I liked it, thought that it was very interesting, and after wearing it for one week I truly realize the depth of the fragrance. It has the Le Male base with an orange blossom overtone. A general survey of some women and their opinions have been positive. It would also be very nice on a woman, not that this is a unisex cologne or a feminine edt. I feel that it has a wide audience. It’s really fantastic. May 10, 2007 at 12:52pm Reply

  • parker.: i bought it today and i can’t stop smelling myself. i’m in love. i wasn’t really a fan when the counter girl showed it to me at first, but when i went back later and the intensity had settled i was entranced. it’s amazing. May 16, 2007 at 2:27am Reply

  • BlackRaspberry: When I first tested this, it lasted from early into the afternoon and didn’t fully die down until after I’d woken up the next morning. I loved the fragrance and I immediately went to Sephora to buy a bottle. Since the purchase though, I’ve found the lasting power isn’t nearly as good and the fragrance itself isn’t as strong. Have I just built an immunity to it, or is there a chance I got a bum bottle? January 14, 2008 at 11:00pm Reply

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