Ivory Soap Plus Ma’Moul Cookies Equals Love: Gaultier’s Fleur du Male
Francis Kurkdjian designed, and Gaultier launched, Fleur du Male back in 2007. It was a talked about launch because it was quite floral and rather sweet for a modern man’s fougere. But this was before the Recession of 2008, and perhaps men were feeling more decadent and innovative than austere and traditional. I remember trying it back then, along with some male friends. We all liked it, but most liked it better on me than on the guys. I’m glad it wasn’t released as a unisex fragrance, though, because the marble-white male torso bottle is one of the most charming and collectible I’ve ever seen. I suppose they could have released it in two bottles, an abstract female to match the male? Ah, well, time passes, and suddenly last month, I wanted a bottle to call my own.
Fleur du Male is technically a fougere, in other words, a balance of herbal/cool notes and coumarinic/warm notes. In this case, petigrain and straight-up coumarin battle it out while orange blossom warms up the center. It’s a sweet concoction, but not overly so. Some men get an animalic note when they wear it, but I do not. There is a hint of lavender or “fern accord”; it’s very subtle. I also get some nice hints of soapy/white musk/washed laundry notes in the drydown. But notes and categories aside, Fleur du Male smells to my nose like Ma’moul cookies (from Lebanon and Armenia), and Ivory soap! Ma’moul are delicious round cookies filled with buttery-sweet semolina, dates or ground nuts, drenched in honey and orange-blossom water, and dusted with powdered sugar. They are indescribably fragrant and tasty. I can’t help but think Francis Kurkdjian was thinking about these cookies while he composed Fleur du Male, maybe he was really hungry in his lab and started reminiscing about them? The basic theme of FdM was further worked out and elaborated upon in his beautiful APOMs for Him and Her, which feature similar notes and focus on sweet orange blossom..
I can’t say this is my favorite fougere on a man, but I have been wearing it with abandon. There have been rumors that Gaultier might discontinue this gem, but I can’t find anything substantial to back that up. Just in case, I’d recommend that interested ladies grab a bottle soon; it’s found in all the usual places for under $70 for 2.5 ounces. FdM is strong, so those 2.5 ounces will last quite a while. And do beware, there is a Cologne version in a frosted white bottle with a silver sprayer which is supposed to be very different from the original. For purposes of this review, make sure you have the Eau de Toilette.