Friday, 25 January 2013

Persolaise Review: Le Beau Male from Jean-Paul Gaultier (Francis Kurkdjian; 2013)

Back in 1995, Jean-Paul Gaultier released his first fragrance for men. You may have heard of it. It's called Le Male, it's sold in a bottle shaped likely a finely-toned male torso, and it just happens to be one of the most successful masculine scents of all time. Needless to say, it's inspired several flankers: the woefully underrated Fleur Du Male, countless 'light' editions aimed at summer holidaymakers and, most recently, a supposedly more intense version dubbed Le Male Terrible. Now, the folks at JPG have turned once more to the original's creator, Francis Kurkdjian, and asked him to give birth to a 'fresh' incarnation of their cash cow.

The result of his efforts, Le Beau Male, will do little to convince naysayers that it's worth re-hashing old ideas, no matter how popular they may be. As you might expect, this new iteration shares a key facet with the 1995 original: namely, a prominent herbal, lavender accord, which was itself based on the structure of a classic fougère. But the point at which the two diverge is their temperature: the first version is sweet, warm and musky; the latest one aims for iciness.

Kurkdjian has lowered the level of the mercury by reaching for mint (not especially surprising) as well as apple (think: crisp bite) and absinthe. It's the inclusion of the latter that feels most problematic. Yes, the material's anisic aspect is frosty, but it's also bitter and it lends the whole an air of standoffishness, at odds with the idea of bracing, lung-filling invigoration. This sneering attitude lasts well into the drydown, where the thin musks grant the lavender a few more spurts of life before finally dwindling into nothingness.

It's no accident that the anodyne, nude figure in this perfume's advertising campaign isn't smiling. If he were, he'd reveal teeth made of icicles, a grin only marginally less glacial than the heart of this frigid piece of work. Gaultier's previous masculine, Kokorico, was an entirely different prospect. It may have been somewhat derivative, but it was inviting, enjoyable and it came in a superb bottle. Sadly, it was also a flop. Maybe the great buying public just didn't appreciate the fact that its supermodel promoter, the lithe Jon Kortajarena, didn't bare much flesh in his advert. Who knows? I'm certainly no expert when it comes to predicting success at the till. But I confess I'll be surprised if this slice of shivering bitterness turns out to be a hit.

[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Jean-Paul Gaultier in 2013.]


  1. I can't wait to try this one out since I am big Le Male fan... :)


    1. Juraj, let me know what you make of it. I'd love to find out how it's received by a Le Male fan.

  2. Well to Le Male fans, you are going to be disappointed! but do panic it's ok in a generic crowd pleasing way that has JPGs LE MALE what it is. So the bad news... Davidoff cool water comes to mind off the opening. The good news: As Cool Water is the acclaimed knock off of creed Green Irish Tweed this comes closer in the first half of the fragrance and then goes bit more cartier roadster with the mint. All in all a good fragrance in a mass market sort of a way.
    Think le male fans will hate, so should be interesting as is a knock off of two awesome frags noneheless.

    1. THG, thanks for your thoughts. I can't say I got much of a connection with Cool Water, but that's neither here nor there.

    2. I tried this and really liked it. Fresh, breezy, long lasting, and very different from Le male, even though their are some common threads between the two. A great summer spring scent that doesn't rely on citrus and wood, wearing it made me feel like I was outside taking in a warm breeze, and I happened to be stuck inside all day. Will purchase for sure.

    3. Richard, each to their own :-) I'm glad you enjoyed it. As it happens, I tried it again the other day, and I have to say, I was even less impressed this time around. Never mind.


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