Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic and mischievous little sailor, Le Mâle, is 25 this year. If that doesn’t make you feel old, then I don’t know what will (it certainly made me feel rather ancient, I tell you). That’s a quarter century’s worth of men soaking themselves in far too much of Le Mâle’s distinct and devilish minty barbershop beauty. I can say that, because for 15 of those 25 years, I have been one of them. I still wear it now and I still love it, and for me, Le Mâle will never go out of style.
The success of Le Mâle is really unrivalled in the world of mainstream masculine perfumery and it’s due, perhaps, to the distinct nature of the juice, but also to the marketing which managed to be unashamedly queer enough to set the gays into a frenzy (the advertising heavily references the Fassbinder movie Querelle) whilst also butch enough not to put the straight boys off (they weren’t in on the joke, but they loved its macho nature anyway). So the beauty of Le Mâle really is the fact that it has been worn by all kinds of men (and women, actually) whether they identify as femme, masc or neither of these things. Long may this mighty Mâle reign – that’s what I say!
To celebrate 25 years of sailor shenanigans, Jean Paul Gaultier is treating us to Le Mâle Le Parfum, which appears as a richer, warmer and more intense version of the original. If you think of Le Mâle as the fresh-faced rookie then Le Parfum is the weather-worn captain, but like Le Mâle, he’s still buff af (the rock hard abs and pert bottom on the bottle remain as tight as ever) and very, very hot. So, let’s jump on board and take a good look at this incredibly sexy fragrance that definitely deserves his promotion to admiral of the fleet.
Cardamom, Lavender and Vanilla
Quentin Bisch & Nathalie Gracia-Cetto
How Does it Smell?
I’m going to start with the key question you’ll all be wanting to an answer to: does Le Parfum smell like Le Mâle? You’ll be pleased to know that, like all good flankers, the answer is both yes and no. For a flanker to be successful it has to be immediately recognisable as the original, sharing the same DNA, but also somehow new and unfamiliar at the same time. Le Mâle Le Parfum does this perfectly: it is Le Mâle, absolutely, but it’s also not. Let’s explore how.
The top notes have the minty freshness of Le Mâle but the intensity of the mint has been dialled right back, allowing for the more menthol, herbal facets of the lavender to peek through, merging with the masculine warmth of the sweaty (in a good way) spices. So, in summary, up top, Le Parfum smells like Le Mâle, just less minty, and much warmer, and spicier.
The lavender really is the star of Le Parfum and it has a beautifully candied vibe to it that is hard to resist. My favourite treatment of lavender is when the malted, sugary facets are enhanced, allowing it to smell like a really delicious caramel. Balance is important here, after all, we don’t want lavender syrup, and that’s avoided via a soft, leathery aspect that keeps the calories firmly in check, whilst bolstering the masculine, aromatic vibe.
In the base, Le Parfum follows modern trends, showcasing a pleasing blend of vanilla and tonka bean, creating a smooth, warming and slightly gourmand amber effect that feels like a toastier version of the original. The whole thing is seamless and from spice, to lavender, to vanilla – from top, to heart, to base, Le Mâle Le Parfum is an attractive package that is infinitely wearable. He’s aged well in 25 years, I tell you, and he’s just as loud, boisterous and long lasting as ever.
Now for the verdict: as you probably can tell, I love Le Mâle Le Parfum. It does what it says on the tin (and it literally comes in a tin, people): it’s a warmer, more grown up Le Mâle. I have worn it regularly since it docked at my house and jumped ship. It’s been my go to when I don’t really know what to wear, mainly because it has a comforting feel, almost like it’s a warm hug from an incredibly handsome man with muscular arms. Now, please excuse me while I stare off into space and think about that for a minute. Actually, you should probably go now, I might be a while…
Le Mâle Le Parfum is available in 75ml, 125ml and 200ml Eau de Parfum Intense.
Images are my own. Review based on a sample (full bottle) of Le Mâle Le Parfum gifted by the brand. I was not paid for this review and the brand had no say in the content.