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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Perfume Review: Frederic Malle French Lover

As they said in Bull Durham, nobody on this planet ever really chooses each's all a question of quantum physics, molecular attraction and timing. Same with perfume. You go to a store for a bit of lighthearted sniffing, you try this and that, Le Labo Patchouli smells like the inside of an army boot AND like cotton candy, Avignon and Zagorsk are fantastic but you are not ready to abandon the sinful ways of the world and join a monastery just yet, everything by Lutens smells like sweet tobacco, Musc Ravageur is pure honey, Vetiver Extraordinaire is too sharply-green, Bigarade is boring, Noir Epices smells like your mother's this point you are pretty sure you will stay happily loyal to your three current favorites. Then, while they are ringing a gift you bought for somebody else, you absentmindedly pick up and spray Bois d'Orage.

And molecular attraction happens. They can say whatever they want about skin chemistry not existing. When a perfume really works on somebody's skin ...well, you just know it. You know it, your companion knows it, the sales assistant knows it... Barney's goes quiet for just a second to honor the solemnity of the moment. What it smells like on you... It smells like the morning after the night spent frolicking in the woods or the beach or the fields...somewhere NATURAL. It smells of plants that might seem green and fresh but really are dirty little things that are up to no good. It smells of wet earth, which might be one of the sexiest scents ever...on you, anyway. There is a striking, brooding note there (perhaps incense) that is very you, there is no other way to describe it. And there is an unexpectedly sweet accord softening the sharp angles of the composition that is also You, a happy you, a relaxed you, perhaps you in love. It smells rustic but also tres sophisticated... a fragrance of a very urban person spending a romantic weekend in the country. (And here is some more in defense of skin chemistry theory: on your companion, the fragrance smells of...watermelons and cedar, in fact bizarrely similar to Hermes's new Un Jardin Apres La Mousson.)

When you learn that it so happens - talk about timing - that it is actually possible to have the perfume with the original name, French Lover, which amuses you to no end on so many levels, you are completely sold. New perfume love is born.

Bois d'Orage is available at Barneys, $190.00 for 100ml. If you too prefer it under the name French Lover (and I do think that the two smell a little different, Bois d'Orage has a sharper, more resinous top accord, and French Lover has a subtle tobacco-like undertone), Gustavo, the Editions de Parfums counter manager, might be able to help you.

Image source,

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Blogger tmp00 said...

Or you can do what I did, damn the torpedoes and the exchange rate and order it from the Malle site in France..

I'l glad you liked this one!

9:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I remember ordering something from them, it wasn't much more expensive actually, no?

9:29 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Actually if I remember correctly, no, it wasn't. But it was about a year ago and the exchange rate is worse. But the prices at Barneys have risen with the rates

The good part is that I will refill it from Barneys

9:40 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I like either way of buying Malle. Their counter at Barney's is invariably great experience.

9:41 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ну какие уж там могут быть "perhaps".

А что это за товарищ на фото? )

10:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

А это товарищ Olivier Martinez, в кинофильме Неверная.

10:17 PM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

OK, I think I had issues w/ timing w/ this scent. Tried it during one of my periods of deep olfactory cynicism and boredom. Should never try anything new during those times and, if I do, should retest everything once those grim moods pass. This is one of those scents I must immediately retry. Will go on a serious sample hunt first thing tomorrow morning.

10:18 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Вспомнил. То есть буквальный Французкий Любовник ) А вообще интересный выбор кинофильма.

10:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I tried it first during MY period of deep olfactory cynicism and boredom :-) It was nice but not thrilling. The right circumstances are everything. Timing!

10:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Я знала, что Вы оцените мой буквальный выбор.

10:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

Oh......I must.I have a friend who wears this one. It turns him into the rugged pirate of his fantasies, which is pretty impressive given that he's an uptight banker from Manhattan. I love it!

11:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That picture splendidly captures this scent! I love this review because what you mention really does happen when a fragrance really speaks to you. It's like those moments in movies when the protagonist realizes a great truth and is spun into a vortex of realization and the camera focuses on the person and revolves around him so that the background becomes and out of focus blur... or something... hahaha. :) I've been wearing French Lover off and on lately and it always reminds me of the scent of a man in nature, maybe after a soccer game in a big field. Or maybe like the guy in your picture :)


11:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

clearly the trip to barney's, which i've been putting off, needs to happen. i have long been wondering about this one, and your description makes me want find out if it would work the same sort of magic on my skin. - minette

12:52 AM EDT  
Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Now I need to revisit this -- I haven't since I wrote the first review for you. I remember liking it quite a bit, but now that mention of wet earth... Makes it sound like Bois d'Orage is a pretty good name for it too. But I see you've come round to the French Lover name, initially I seem to remember much doubt (maybe not yours?)about its cheesiness.

3:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I love it that an uptight banker dreams of being a pirate :-)

6:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That's exactly how it is! One of those big moments in movies. The guy in the picture is Olivier Martinez and he is so hot :-)

6:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I hope it will work its magic on you too!

6:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I love that review of yours.
I changed my mind about the name, "French Lover", after the renamed it, for the US market, into this fairly boring "Bois d'Orage". :-)

6:23 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Wonderful review (and picture)! As I mentioned, this is also great on Mr. Lily (but not so great on me). As I also mentioned, he "lost" the bottle we purchased from France. So glad to hear that we can still get the original!

6:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am still shocked at that loss and how it happened! I hope you can replace the most favorite stuff very soon.

6:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fantastic review! I was right there with you in the store as everything went still...

"...maybe a you in love..."

*happy sigh*

9:08 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad you liked!

9:10 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, what a lovely review! I did not care for this fragrance, but now I want to go and try it again!


9:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! I was kind of indifferent to it before, but now it's love :-)

9:47 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first got a bottle from the Paris boutique, a blind buy, and was sorely disappointed with the sillage and drydown, that sweet amber note at the base is really non fitting to the wonderfull medicinal dryness on the opening, then 2 weeks ago, the concentration of the scent went up from 7% to 9%, and I thought I would give it another try, it does have a stronger presence, but not an hour later that annoying sweet note came through..but all was not lost, I was later at aedes, and smelled Escentric02, this is FL like, but dryer, much more presence, and a wonderfull sharp drydown, I returned FL, and anxiously await E02, lt should arrive at aedes at the beginning of june. BTW the main component of the scent is Ambroxan, which is also in FL. also 190. for a Skinscent ?? Escentric02 is 135. for what seems like a much stronger concentration.

10:12 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Um .... I would like to say something pithy, but my mind cannot quite tear itself away from that photo. Surely that is not Kevin Costner? If that man up there is in a movie, I need to rent it. :-) Clearly I have overlooked a masterpiece.

3:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I don't remeber how much sillage it used to have, but this one is quite sillage-full and long-lasting. It does have a bit of a sweet note there true.

3:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Kevin Costner?! :-)
It's Olivier Martinez, in a still from movie Unfaithful.
He is not bad looking, right?

3:29 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marchlion, this is a shot from the movie "Unfaithful" and yes go rent it right now! The whole movie is a feast for the eyes, it has Richard Gere too, but the hottie in the photo is Oliver Martinez.

The sex scenes are pretty erotic, not for what they show, ie they are very well thought out and convey the sensuality of attraction between two ppl, rather than just the sex act inself. (Maybe I should say "in addition to" instead of rather, LOL) Watch it with your hubby or SO, cause it will put you in the mood!

French Lover was very meh to my nose. Maybe if I smelled it on Oliver......

6:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have a feeling that on fair Olivier even Secretions Magnifique would smell, well, magnifique. :-)

6:06 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Marina, if there is any chance at all that this scent will attract Olivier Martinez then I will order several gallons of it! :-D

It sounds really good, and I love all the Malles I have tried so far, so this one goes on my list!

2:17 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yes, but imagine Him wearing it :-)

8:02 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Love it in the bottle, on paper, and other folks.

We can dream of it on the right skin, LOL....

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Mmmmm, yes! :-)

8:29 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to laugh and nod when you wrote that the store fell silent. That is the experience I had in December at a Guerlain trunk show at King of Prussia. Take a seat, blah blah, try this. Nice, blah blah. Now this one, nice, blah blah and I think this will nice for you...spritz of Quand Vient Le Pluie. KOP fell silent except for the choir of angels,I developed tunnel vision, and nearly had a...well...a "moment" right there in public. The first time a scent had become one with me, totally and completely and I just know it was developed with just me in mind. I snatched the edp and ran. I'm too terrified to try the perfume version. But those moments are so rare!

12:36 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh, I love Quand Vient La Pluie!

1:24 PM EDT  

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