This is the scent that should’ve been called « Only the Brave »…
After the disconcerting and otherworldly Dans tes Bras, Frédéric Malle once more boldly goes where no perfumer has gone before (it must be the “Beam-me-up-Scotty” cabin effect) by commissioning another amazingly futuristic scent, one that completely turns the traditional fougère family on its head. And a welcome shake-up it is, in a world where cheap, uninventive “aromatic fougères” have practically taken over men’s aisles in perfume shops.
Mint has seldom been successfully attempted as a dominant note, save by Mathilde Laurent, who paired with fresh grass in Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca during her tenure at Guerlain, then with woody/balsamic notes nine years later in Cartier Roadster. The beauty and complexity of the material has been obscured by its myriad chewing gum/toothpaste connotations, and to appreciate it, you must shed all preconceived ideas… And make no mistake: despite its name, Géranium pour Monsieur is a mint fragrance, from the top notes all the way to the dry-down.
Dominique Ropion can boast a distinguished line-up of blockbusters, but to me, the man’s genius shines only through his collaborations with Frédéric Malle: Carnal Flower sits up there with Fracas and Tubéreuse Criminelle in tuberose heaven; ditto for Vétiver Extraordinaire which overtook the Guerlain version after its reformulation; as for Une Fleur de Cassie, I consider it to be one of the best fragrances composed in the past ten years.
It seems that the inspiration for Géranium pour Monsieur came from Frédéric Malle, who hankered after the feel of old-fashioned barbershop lotions and soaps – geranium is certainly an old-school, “daddy-scent” note. But Ropion’s interpretation of doesn’t have a retro bone in its body: his neo-fougère rips out coumarin, lavender and oakmoss from the formula. Yet it somehow retains the rounded, smooth-as-soap feel of classics like Jean Carles’ great Canoe by Dana and its progeny, the once-ubiquitous Brut by Fabergé.
Géranium pour Monsieur’s initial blast of mint is so vivid that you can literally taste its anesthesizing coolness, and so insanely stretched out it sucks up every other note into its ice-blue vortex for hours.
As Octavian Coifan has noted in his perceptive review, geranium and mint share a lot of molecules in common, and Ropion has picked up on that to meld several types of coolness: the jagged freezing notes of two types of mint; the rounded, citronella-tinged geranium, which hooks up with a similarly “round”, but warmer note, that of aniseed oil (anethol); and finally, Floralozone, a material I’m not familiar with, but which its maker IFF describes as “powerful, clean, green, fresh air tone reminiscent of ocean breezes. Gives lift to fragrances without dominating due to its neutral nature”, which fits the bill well enough.
The rosy facet of geranium is hard to tease out. It appears just when you think Géranium pour Monsieur is all about the cool, along with a darker, dry and woody vibe that feels almost like cedar, but isn’t: quite probably the combination of Ambroxan, with its medicinal clary sage accents, incense and sandalwood.
Due to the incredible lasting power of the mint, the musk and cinnamon-tinged benzoin take their own sweet time in appearing, gradually warming the dry, woody frame of the composition. The scent eventually subsides into a good-quality soap note (“Manly, yes, but I like it too.”).
As for the odd Dans tes Bras, it may take you a long time to wrap your head (nose?) around the groundbreaking Géranium pour Monsieur – though Lee of the Perfume Posse was immediately smitten, and pronounced it the Eau Sauvage of the 21st century. I’m not quite sure I’d wear it myself, but, as Mr. Spock would say, raising a slanted eyebrow: “Fascinating”.
Image: This is an airplane vortex. I found it by googling "vortex . Don't ask me more. It just looks cool.
Image: This is an airplane vortex. I found iton various websites
by googling "vortex . Don't ask me more. It just looks cool.
Ahhh... great review. I want to sniff this NOW, but TPC doesn't have samples yet. : (RépondreSupprimer
I can't wait to try this - I adore Dominique Ropion's work. If a mint fragrance can completely escape the dreaded "toothpaste accord" the master will have surpassed himself once again!RépondreSupprimer
::thud:: Must! Sniff! I love the smell of mint and have always wished there were more fragrances featuring it. Oh, please let this be at the Dallas Barney's when I go in two weeks, ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohpleeeeeeeeeeease!!RépondreSupprimer
Dain, c'mon, give'em a moment, the fragrance has been in the Paris shops for less than a week!RépondreSupprimer
Flora, I think the "toothpaste" connotation will really depend on the wearer's perception. But it's definitely masterful.RépondreSupprimer
StyleSpy, report back if it is!RépondreSupprimer
I normally run from the smallest hint of mint in a fragrance. I get either the toothpaste note or an awful "musty dried herb" accord in most of them. But given the reviews, this one deserves a sniff and perhaps more than that. If I love it, maybe I'll share a bottle with the men in my family.RépondreSupprimer
Melissa, at least try it out for your culture! I'm not sure I'd wear it but it's definitely groundbreaking, no less than we could expect from MM. Ropion and Malle working together.RépondreSupprimer
"Fascinating" is great to hear, whether I want to wear it or not. I can't wait to smell it. Thanks for the review!RépondreSupprimer
See, with your expertise (unlike me, enthusiastic amateur, writ large), you pin down this as far more futuristic and innovative than I did. My review could've said, quite simply, 'this smells real good'. Though I did get the citronella, I think.RépondreSupprimer
I'll boldly go and buy my bottle this week - it was released in London the same time as Paris, I think.
Fascinant, mais bien sûr.
Angela, yes, we don't get enough "fascinating"... I was actually inspired by a salon.com article (I think) about President Obama as Mr. Spock -- my childhood hero!RépondreSupprimer
Lee, I'd love to sniff this on you! And your review was great -- I long for that fresh grotto after the blazing sun...RépondreSupprimer
Hello, D. Thanks for the interesting review. "Fascinating" sounds right up my alley (I've just come from seeing the new Star Trek film, in fact). "Géranium pour Monsieur" sounds like just the right sort of fragrance for space-going gentlemen. I'm eager to try it out. The lavender-coumarin accord of fougeres has never quite worked for me (lavender feels so distinctive on its own, and then combined with nutty-bitter coumarin, it just feels very loud and stereotypically "masculine" to me), and so I'm eager to see what it feels like to blow up the geranium part, especially with its minty facets.RépondreSupprimer
Jarvis, you know, I could see you pulling this off (GPM, not space travel... even though...).RépondreSupprimer
Great review! Between you and Lee I am chomping at the bit to try this one.RépondreSupprimer
Popcarts, then Lee and I bear quite some responsibility!RépondreSupprimer
Can you compare this to Derby?RépondreSupprimer
It is indeed available in London. Liberty's had it on Friday, but alas no samples... I did buy a bottle, however. It is very good, elegant and quite dark and almost dank at times- I get a strong swampiness (perhaps this is the smell of the walls of a wine cellar) after the citronella dies down- oh, how I love the citronella. I wish that the geranium smell was a little more prominent. It never quite loses the toothpaste even with the wonderful sandalwoody, musk base. Did you find that it doesn't last as long as you might have hoped? I find it very close after just one hour and I have to apply it very liberally which is odd after the rest of FM's fragrances...RépondreSupprimer
Cait: short answer is no, I can't. They bear no relationship to one another, but I'm curious as to what made you think they had one?RépondreSupprimer
Alexander, actually, I found it extremely long lasting -- I could still smell it the next morning before my shower. I'm not sure about the diffusiveness though.RépondreSupprimer
How odd- thank you for letting me know... I will have to make sure that I am not anosomic to some of the ingredients.RépondreSupprimer
Alexander, I hope it's not the dreaded musk anosmia! :-(RépondreSupprimer
Oh, I didn't meant to criticize. Just impatient. : )RépondreSupprimer
Dain, I know!RépondreSupprimer
fascinating, intriguing... I was shocked by the mint initially but grew to be quite beguiled... I think I could rather easily love a man wearing this. I am imagining a Toby Stephens type in a really good Saville Row suit. I wrote up my initial thoughts on my blog but they were from a spritz while flying to a dinner so I need to try it again.RépondreSupprimer
You know I think I would wear this and it could be very Kathryn Hepburn esque
I also think mint might be the next big thing in perfumery (not that I enjoy the crushes everyone gets but it seems to be on the radar at the moment- I love the Heeley menthe although it too is strange at first)
Rose, I totally agree, we're seeing the forerunning signs of a mint rush!RépondreSupprimer
So do I! my sister-in-law lost her sense of smell falling off a horse- it could be a lot worse even if it is a musk issue. I am pretty sure that I can't smell Mysore Sandalwood either... only the Australian. I have been thinking about getting a kit of the heavier ingredients and trying to work out what I can and can't smell but I keep on using up my scent budget before I get to the individual ingredients. c'est la vie.RépondreSupprimer
Alexander, I'm no scientist, but I do know that sometimes, it's the mind that picks up a smell and focuses on it, obscuring our perception of other materials.RépondreSupprimer
And mint could probably make some people "nose-blind".
For a couple of years I was unable to discern the musks in Narciso Rodriguez for Her. Now I can. Weird.
hey i bought this at Liberty of London as well about a week ago!
I found this very long lasting,and i don smell thoothpaste(mint) at all after 1 hour or so..
its very interesting how different people smell differently.
but in any case, I LOVE this Géranium pour Monsieur!
A bit late to the game here, but I enjoyed this review, and I'm looking forward to my sample from TPC any day now. I love geranium, but I'm a bit apprehensive about all the mint in this (though I enjoy Herba Fresca). I grew to love Dans Tes Bras rather quickly after being surprised upon my initial sampling. I agree that I love being surprised, even if the initial impression is jarring.RépondreSupprimer
Regarding your last comment about NR for Her: I read at least one study claiming that some people could be sensitized via repeated exposure to detect musks to which they had previously been anosmic.
Joe, if you ever find the reference to that study I'd like to have it. That could be an explanation...RépondreSupprimer
Denyse, See page 72 of the book below (you should be able to view that part for free -- "Perception of Androstenone"):RépondreSupprimer
I came across this information when looking up studies related to frequency of "Specific anosmia to 1-pyrroline: The spermous primary odor" (yes, sounds very strange...) See citation.
Joe, thanks! Your line of reseach sounds intriguing, to say the least!RépondreSupprimer