Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle French Lover

French Lover (or Bois D'orage as it is known in the US) was one of the first fragrances I sampled from the Frederic Malle line. In many ways I had only recently become addicted to the whole perfume thing and Frederic Malle was about as niche as could be, for me, and in many ways still is. I admire quite a few perfumes from the line, but I would say that in general, they are not easy perfumes to like; they require a bit of perseverance and even then, there are some you might not grow to like. French Lover is one of those for me. For some reason I have never taken to it, although I do acknowledge that it has a certain something about it. The notes include pimento, galbanum, iris, angelica, cedarwood and vetiver. Other sources list incense, patchouli, mosses, musk, clove and bergamot. What I do know is that French Lover opens with a crackerjack shot of pepper/pink pepper, that reminds me almost of gunpowder, which I think might be the initial burst of galbanum. It is dry, dusty and almost cough-inducing, but as the top notes fade a more recognisable galbanum note seeps through, greener and sappier. Alongside this I detect a very definite clove note and some musk and cedar. There is a floral vibe going as well, or I thought it was floral but perhaps it is angelica. After about fifteen minutes or so I detected a vaguely sour note, slightly spicy and citrusy, which I thought is bergamot. That strange gunpowder note lingers. 

French Lover kept on reminding me of another perfume. At first I couldn't put my finger on it and then it struck me: Isfarkand by Ormonde Jayne. Isfarkand is all about pink pepper, musk and cedar, not a huge leap from pimento, musk, spices and cedar, it must be said. Thinking about it a bit more, I also detect a similarity to Cartier Declaration, without the cumin note. Into the heart and early dry down French Lover softens considerably, with a sweeter mossy note that strengthens and takes this into less austere territory. I must say that I don't detect any iris or patchouli, but that's not to say they aren't there. 

Writing this, I still can't quite say why I don't like French Lover more. It is a good perfume and I know it has lots of fans out there. Perhaps it's the association first of all - I don't personally think French Lover is a very apt name for it. I don't find it a particularly sexy fragrance. If anything it is quite austere and severe, particularly in the first third of development, but that's just my personal take on it. I think it is definitely one of the more masculine fragrances in the Malle line, but having said that, it would be interesting to smell this on a woman. I think a lady who enjoys the style embodied by Ormonde Jayne in particular would quite possibly enjoy this.

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  1. Michael, I think we share a partial perfume brain. Yesterday, I spent the day thinking about Malle's French Lover; not because I was wearing it, but because I was wearing Dirty English, by Juicy Couture. Sounds weird, but DE is a lighter, brighter version of French Lover to my nose, especially in the drydown. They share notes of bergamot, cedar, vetiver and musk.

    I know you're not much into mainstream perfumes (I have despised all of the Juicy perfumes marketed to women) but you may want to check out Dirty English, just for comparison sake.

  2. Josephine I think I have tried Dirty English before, quite a long time ago. I'll give it another go. It's true that I don't write much about mainstream perfume, but I assure you it isn't because I think mainstream is worse than niche.

    Do you like French Lover?




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