One of Malle’s more recent releases (2007) French Lover is a sophisticated masculine fragrance, “A hyper sensual aroma without being vulgar, showy”. The name French Lover came about when someone joked during the creation phase “Oh, it smells very French lover”. The original title was Bois D’Orage; the name that was used in the US market due to strong concerns America would not react well to a perfume called French Lover. Inviting world-renowned noses to create a scent for his collection, Frederic Malle’s catalogue tally currently stands at nineteen different perfumes. Although diverse, there is a definite aesthetic to the brand. I was trying to put my finger on what this was and it came to me recently: the absence of vanilla! In comparison to Guerlain, which is built on vanilla pods, Frederic Malle is more entrée than dessert. Pierre Bourdon who authored French Lover described it as having ‘a kind of plant based animal quality that immediately evoked the smell of a man’. This is Pierre Bourdon’s second fragrance for Frederic Malle, the first being Iris Poudre. Bourdon began his career in 1971 under the tutelage of arguably one the world’s greatest noses Edmond Rouditska. Some of Bourdon’s commercial successes include Yves Saint Laurent’s Kouros in 1981 and Davidoff’s Cool Water in 1996.
It’s this vegetal quality which Bourdon speaks of that gives French Lover it’s understated elegance. Had he used the usual synthetic animal notes of musk and castoreum the fragrance would have lost its contemporary sophistication (Juicy Couture Dirty English is a good reference if you want to smell an elementary French Lover). Instead he employed the use of increasingly popular IFF designer molecule Trimofix that has a wood/amber character. This is combined with cedar, oakmoss and vetiver. The vegetal theme is enhanced with leafy green galbanum, spicy pimento and frankincense. Florentine iris, angelica and musk soften what are otherwise very sharp ingredients.
French Lover may have been intended for the sophisticated man, but it is a good all-rounder and wearable by most types of men. The wood amber notes are similar to many of the more commercial woody fragrances available so most conservative males would not find this too far a departure from what they were accustomed to using. Its perfect for the office, the aromatic notes are not overbearing. It is also a fun and adventurous scent for the weekends. Iris is a wildcard choice for a younger male. Paired with spice I highly recommend French Lover for men in their mid 20s. Ladies, this could also be one for you. The compact 3x10ml travel size is great for business travel and ensures you arrive at your destination smelling fresh.
Gucci Pour Homme, Annick Goutal Mandragore Pourpre, Six Scents Series 2 No 2, Juicy Couture Dirty English, Kenzo Tokyo, L’artisan Piment Brulant, Hermes Paprika Brasil
Perfumer: Pierre Bourdon (Fragrance Resources)
Bottle designer: Frederic Malle
Release date: 2007
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Mossy Woods