Jean Paul Gaultier’s Ultra Male: welcome to the dark side

gaultier ultra maleIt’s hard to believe but Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Le Male fragrance is 20 years old this year. In fragrance years that makes it practically a pensioner since so many modern era men’s fragrances are lucky to make it past their third birthday. So popular has it become that a bottle is sold every six seconds and to date over 80 million products have been sold. Like all great contemporary classics, though, it’s an intensely polarising scent, with some people loving it and others finding it sickly, cloying and overpowering. Personally, I’ve always liked it and respected its boldness but have never actually been able to wear it.

And though Gaultier has never been able to replicate its success fragrance-wise (remember Gaultier² or Kokorico?) Le Male, housed in its memorable flacon, has guaranteed him a place in the fragrance hall of fame. Over the years it has spawned numerous “flankers” (i.e. variations thereof) and this anniversary year sees the arrival of yet another, in the shape of Ultra Male. As I pointed out in my review of it for Men’s Health it’s still a gourmand fragrance but not nearly as sweet as the original, opening it up to a whole new audience.

“I worked on this new version by reinterpreting the sensuality of the original fragrance with the codes of our modern era,” says its creator, acclaimed perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. “Gourmand effects, which Mr Gaultier loves so much, interplay with modern woody notes and lavender aromatic notes, the heart of the original fragrance that was composed in 1995.” Unlike most ‘reinterpretations’, however, Ultra Male isn’t afraid to veer away from the original in its construction. In fact, you’d barely recognise it as a sibling of Le Male, which is why it’s worth checking out, even if you’re not a fan of the  original.

Jean-Paul-Gaultier-Ultra-Male-Fragrance-Campaign-Jarrod-ScottTo my nose Ultra Male is deeper, rougher, darker and altogether more muscular than Le Male and more grown up too. It’s spicer, fruitier and woodier and not quite so sexually ambiguous. Le Male, of course, is now famous for the use of sailor imagery in its ad campaigns and if the original is the sailor who waves to his loved ones from the deck of a departing ship, Ultra Male is more like the sailor lurking in a dark back alley, waiting to press-gang you into joining the navy. And I mean that in a good way. So why resist?

Ahoy there! There’s a new limited edition of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male on the horizon!

JPG_LE MALE_2015 Ltd Ed_IMAGE 6BGenerally speaking I’m very suspicious of limited edition versions of popular fragrances (at the end of the day they’re essentially a way of shifting more units) but I’m always rather excited whenever there’s a new edition of Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Le Male because they’re always such fun and so well executed. And since a new one emerges every spring I can’t be the only one who enjoys them. This year, the fragrance takes on a pirate theme, with a crimson skull and a pair of crossed sabres emblazoned on a sailor’s jersey. If you’re a collector you’ll no doubt want to add it to your swag but if you’re just a fan of Le Male and are running low this is the perfect time to replenish your stock. And I know it has a pirate theme but do me a favour and pay for it rather than just ‘appropriate’ it, ok?

Available from Feb 2nd while stocks last.

Jean Paul Gaultier talks fragrance

I was lucky enough to attend a special Fragrance Symposium at The Barbican centre recently in which perfumer Francis Kurkdjian – the man behind Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male  – and the famous fashion designer himself discussed all things fragrance. An interesting discussion it revealed that the enfant terrible has lost none of this cheeky charm and give a fascinating insight into the creation of his fragrances. Below is a video of the event, so if you get a spare few minutes have a watch. Oh, and make sure you check out the wonderful exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalkof which the symposium was a part.

Coming next year…a brief taster of three fragrances heading your way in Spring 2013


The vibe: Mining the Paco Rabanne 1 Million vein, this sweet, aromatic woody fragrance with its novelty casino chip bottle is clearly aimed at young, single lads looking for a punchy, accessible, not-too-scary, night-out fragrance. And in that respect it ticks all the boxes.

Key notes: Iris, blackwood and juniper to give it a “gin fizz” accord.

Verdict: it’s not going to stun anyone with its originality but has huge mass-market appeal. Expect to see it in The Perfume Shop’s best seller list.

versace-eros-profumo_650x478Versace Eros

The Vibe: Fresh, sweet, woody oriental fragrance with a slightly bombastic Eighties feel (and name).

Key notes: Mint, Green Apple, Tonka bean, Ambroxan, Geranium flowers, Vanilla, Vetyver, Cedarwood and an oak moss accord.

Verdict: with Eros as the name it’s positively tumescent with potential but alas, the juice is surprisingly pedestrian and though appears sexy initially (in a sweet, Thierry Mugler kinda way) it matures into something my nan might have worn. Fab bottle though…

gaultier le beau

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Beau Male

The vibe: Fresh, herbaceous and uber-commercial new Gaultier fragrance created taking a few cues from the original Le Male fragrance and housed in a reworked version of the familiar torso flacon. After the commercial disappointment of Kokorico it seems they’re taking no chances this time.

Key notes: mint, absinthe, lavender, orange blossom, sage, musk

Verdict: Refreshingly different from Le Male (a fragrance too heady for me) the hint of absinthe is lovely, as is icy freshness of the mint and slight soapiness of the sage. The signature Le Male lavender and orange blossom are still there at the fragrance’s core but thankfully the vanilla is barely noticeable in this incarnation. Wearable and not nearly as polarising as Le Male, which is both its biggest asset and biggest drawback.


Have Le Male Flask, will travel

If there’s one thing you can definitely say about Jean Paul Gaultier it’s that he knows how to keep his fans happy. His fragrance bottles are always huge fun and this limited edition travel flask version for his iconic Le Male fragrance is no exception. Cool eh? Collectors, crack open the piggy bank!

The Le Male Eau de toilette 125ml Travel Flask costs £55. A similarly-sized flask version of Le Male Terrible is also available for £57

Take a peek at Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male summer 2012 edition

Fan of Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Le Male fragrance? Collect the bottles? Then here’s a glimpse of this year’s summer variant, with its jungle theme torso. As usual the fragrance itself has been tweaked for summer by making it a little lighter, fresher and generally more sparkly. Cute innit?

Le Male Stimulating Summer Fragrance will be available from 2nd April priced £38.50 for 100 eau de toilette.

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Christmas gift set for Le Male – as much fun as you can have with two fingers

Christmas gift sets can be so dull. You know the type of thing – a fragrance plus a shower gel in a boring old box. Well, here’s a gift set that’s anything but boring. In fact, the first time I got to touch one I was a bit like a five year old with a new toy.

See, this year’s Christmas coffret for Jean Paul Gaultier’s perennially-popular Le Male fragrance is carved from polystyrene and is fitted with two buttons at the sides which create a little snowstorm inside each time they’re pushed simultaneously.

If you’re a big kid like me, once you start playing with it you almost don’t care what the fragrance inside smells like (though it’s a classic so don’t worry). Possibly my favourite fragrance gift set this year. Certainly pushes my buttons anyway (sorry!)…

Available now, priced £39.50. Set includes a 75ml eau de toilette and a 100ml shower gel.